Thursday, May 3, 2018

[CLOSURE ALERT] Sears Shuttering Store at North Point Mall

Struggling retailer Sears quietly began liquidation sales at its store at North Point Mall in Alpharetta this past weekend.  The two level store, one of the mall's original anchors, was spared from recent closure lists [the most recent of which was released on April 20] but corporate apparently decided at the "last minute" to close the store, according to an employee at the store.  Liquidation sales started this past Friday with 10-30% off all in-stock merchandise including Lands End.  The store is expected to close no later than July 8.


Sears [and sister chain kmart] has closed a number of their more rural stores in Georgia and elsewhere in recent years.  This past January, Sears closed its store at The Mall at Stonecrest in Lithonia, marking the first metro Atlanta store to close in a number of years.  the retailer continues to operate stores at Northlake Mall in Tucker, Cumberland Mall in Smyrna, Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Town Center at Cobb, Arbor Place in Douglasville and Southlake Mall in Morrow, among others in Georgia.  

Homart Development Company, once a division of Sears, developed North Point Mall, which opened in 1993. Homart was purchased by General Growth Properties (GGP) in late 1995, although real estate sources indicate that Sears retained ownership of its "box" (the Sears store). 

The mall's original anchors were Rich's, Lord & Taylor, Mervyn's, JCPenney, and Sears.

North Point Mall has already gone though several significant anchor changes since it opened in 1993.  Mervyn's vacated its anchor space in December 1995 and then new-to-market department store Dillard's, based in Little Rock, AR, filled the sixth pad site on the east side of the mall in 1996. That same year, Birmingham, Alabama-based Parisian opened in the former Mervyn's space. In 2005, New York-based Lord & Taylor pulled out of the Atlanta market, closing their stores at Mall of Georgia, Phipps Plaza and North Point Mall. The Parisian space was vacated in September 2007, as the company had been purchased by Charlotte, North Carolina-based Belk, which opened in the former Lord & Taylor space around the same time.  Belk closed its store at North Point Mall in September 2009. 

The Cheesecake Factory opened its third Georgia location at the mall in June 2004.  The first southern location of American Girl boutique & bistro opened in the mall in 2007, and despite being only 12,000 square feet in size, acts as an anchor of sorts, given its tremendous popularity that drives traffic to the mall.  Davenport, Iowa-based Von Maur opened in the vacant Belk in November 2011.  Originally opened as Lord & Taylor, the store was heavily renovated and even enlarged from about 115,000 square feet to about 140,000 square feet.  The former Parisian store was demolished in 2012 with AMC Theatres opening a new state-of-the-art 12 screen theater there in October 2013. 

Early last month, GGP filed plans with the City of Alpharetta to convert some vacant retail space in the mall to office space.  In the filing, the mall owner "proposes an interior renovation to convert existing in-line retail space within the Mall to leasable office space consisting of both private offices and common areas for collaborative working."  The filing goes on to say that "The Applicant proposes only the internal renovation of a portion of existing in-line retail space that has remained vacant for some time.... While most of the Mall's retail space is currently leased, the areas proposed for office use have been vacant for some time, evidencing the need for a new use."  "The proposed change to the site includes a conversion of 27,000 square feet of retail area into flex office space," says a traffic study prepared for the project by consulting firm Kimley-Horn.  Diagrams show the space at North Point proposed for office space include a 12,748 square foot area on the lower level near AMC Theatres and 12,556 square feet on the upper level of the same wing.

The filing includes a number of "illustrative images" of shared office business WeWork in Oregon's Pioneer Place in downtown Portland.  WeWork opened in a 30,000 square foot space in the GGP owned mall last May.  The company currently has three Atlanta locations open: Tower Place in Buckhead, Colony Square and 1372 Peachtree Street in Midtown, with at least two more - Coda in Midtown and Terminus in Buckhead - coming soon.   

While it's easy to point to the success of nearby mixed-use development Avalon as a contributing factor for the closure of Sears, that's not really a fair conclusion to draw.  Sears is struggling all by itself, nationally, and North Point is actually performing quite well despite the narrative that "malls are dying."  GGP has repeatedly reworked, replaced, renovated and reimagined the mall to keep it going in the right direction.  Losing Apple and Pottery Barn to Avalon were tough pills to swallow, but the mall has managed to backfill those spaces, notably leasing the former Pottery Barn space to local boutique Sugarboo & Co.  

A real estate source familiar with the mall operator's plans tells ToNeTo Atlanta that GGP may be planning a hotel and or a multi-family development as part of the likely redevelopment of the Sears property.  

Other current and former Georgia Sears stores are slated for and/or being pitched for replacement tenant(s) and redevelopment.  

The approximately 80,000 square foot one story Sears at Valdosta Mall in Valdosta which closed this past January is being marketed for lease by The Shopping Center Group, while the firm is also marketing the approximately 179,000 Sears at Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah, which is still open and operating, as a redevelopment opportunity.  The Shopping Center Group previously marketed the upper level of the Sears at Cumberland Mall, where Kroger was in talks to open in 2015, but its listing has since been removed from the firm's website.  

What would you like to see open in place of Sears at North Point Mall?  Do you still frequent North Point Mall or have you moved entirely to Avalon, if so, why? What restaurant would you like to see open in or around North Point Mall?

Please share your thoughts below.  

7 comments:

CloseOTP said...

I will say GGP does what it needs to do to keep that mall successful. I don't live near Northpoint, but it sounds like they bounce back. It does show that malls aren't dead if they have committed owners. Sears on the other hand seems to be holding on for dear life. No idea how they messed up the opportunity to sell/lease half their store to Kroger at Cumberland...

Anonymous said...

Marta station

Anonymous said...

North Point has seriously regressed the past 5 years or so. Needs a remodel inside as it is old and dated. If you compare it to Perimeter Mall it is horrendously old and dated. All of the decent kids/baby clothing stores have closed and some replaced by cheap clothing stores. No moms really shop there anymore. It reminds me of North Dekalb mall when it started to decline.

Anonymous said...

I primarily shop at Sears for Lands End but we've bought some great household appliances there over the years. We frequent the North Point store as it's much better than Cumberland despite living a little closer to Cumberland. I am sad to see Sears go. I wish they could find a way to reinvigorate their business. Their downfall is the same as Toys R Us - failure to update stores, and in certain parts of the stores, lack of customer service (though never an issue in appliances or Lands End).

Anonymous said...

Poor Sears and Kmart. Old stores that failed to keep up with the times. Tried to reinvent itself via commercials but walking in the stores never match the commercial. I remember shopping in my hometown in both stores with my Mom,Dad and sisters. Good memories. I do hope they survive somehow. Competition is always good.

Anonymous said...

I bought a lawnmower from the Cumberland store about 14 years ago. Still works great and always starts on the first pull.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to see sears go out of the space in The North Point mall but at the same time excited to see what will go in. I would like to see a Bass Pro Shop go in that space. Update the look and feel. Avalon is nice but too expensive. and now getting too crowded. How about an upgrade with an inside water fall and pond with a really nice store for pond lovers. Could add a Belks as well.

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