Monday, September 17, 2018

[EXCLUSIVE] Apple Reportedly Eyeing Larger Bite of Lenox Square

Well-placed sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Apple plans to relocate and expand its store at Lenox Square in Buckhead to the front of the mall where it will occupy two levels.  The store, which would occupy the former Prime, Sprinkles, and Sperry TopSider stores, could open by holiday 2019.  The Prime space has largely sat vacant since its abrupt closure in late 2015, while a portion of Sprinkles will soon be occupied by Daily Dose by The Merchant, a coffee shop.  Sperry TopSider closed late last year and is currently occupied by Rak Outfitters, a local outdoors retailer.

Local retailer Elk Head "popped-up" in a portion of the former Prime restaurant space last year, but has has been gone from the mall for months.  ToNeTo Atlanta has confirmed that both Rak and Daily Dose signed short-term leases that only go through March and April 2019, respectively.  Given that preliminary work could very well be going on in the Prime space even while Daily Dose and others are open, there is good reason to believe that the new Apple store could open in time for the 2019 holiday shopping season.

The Apple store, if it moves and is as large as anticipated, would join a pair of other large format retailers at the front of the mall.  Nike occupies a two-level, 23,000+ square foot space (12,386  upper and 10,797 lower) and Anthropogie operates a 14,866 square foot store adjacent to the Prime space. 

Apple's current second level store at Lenox Square opened in 2002, and after an expansion a few years ago, is currently 8,183 square feet.  The Lenox store was one of the first expansion stores for the chain following the concept's debut in Glendale, California in 2001.  The space created by the combination of Prime, Sprinkles and Sperry/Rak would be 11,549 square feet.  The former Karen Millen space where Bettino Leather will soon open on a short-term basis, could also be part of the Apple store and would add an additional 2,100 square feet.  The new Casper "sleep store," scheduled to open October 31 in the former 2,000 square foot Vince Camuto/The Shoe Box space, was likely signed to a lease longer than Rak/Daily Dose, and likely signed due to their awareness of and hope for the halo affect that a large new Apple store will bring.

When asked in August about plans for the prime vacancies at Lenox Square [Prime, Sprinkles, Karen Millen, The Shoe Box etc.],  a representative from Lenox Square said  “Simon has a strategic leasing plan in place for Lenox Square. We will share information as leases are finalized.”  Representatives from the mall declined to comment when asked last week about the potential for a large new Apple store at the front of the mall. 

Simon already has the Prime space marked as "Retail" on internal documents.


In 2012, ToNeTo Atlanta reported that Apple was in talks to take on a larger space at the front of the mall, but the space in question - the former Crate & Barrel - eventually became the giant new Nike store. 

If the Apple store in the front of the mall  does come to fruition and in the size it appears, it will still be be dwarfed by its front of the mall neighbor Nike with a two-level space spanning over 23,000 square feet. The iconic Nike store opened in late 2013 and was essentially a replacement for both the small format Nike at Lenox, as well as the former Niketown at Phipps Plaza.  The store provides the Nike brand with great Peachtree Road facing visibility with a giant swoosh across the store's exterior.

Apple, famous for their use of glass and modern aesthetics, will likely also make use of their Peachtree facing visibility to create an eye-catching store.  The electronics company early last month surpassed $1 trillion in market capitalization and definitely has the funds and creativity needed to make the front of Lenox a flagship-like store.  We say flagship-like, as the store will be bigger than its predecessor and perhaps the largest in Georgia, but still far smaller than the company's largest U.S. store on Fifth Avenue in New York.  The store, located near the southern tip of Central Park, is in the midst of a huge expansion and renovation that will see it swell from 32,000 square feet to 77,000 square feet when it reopens this coming November.

Apple's multi-level store in Hong Kong 

If Apple does open a larger store at Lenox, it would be a coup for mall owner Simon Property Group as some industry observers has surmised that Apple would opt for a location in The Shops Buckhead Atlanta.  The upscale mixed use shopping and dining development has been plagued by weak traffic, slow sales and a rash of retail and restaurant failures.
  
The Lenox Square Apple store was the company's first in metro Atlanta but is no longer its only one.  In addition to the Lenox outpost, Apple added additional locations in North Point Mall in Alpharetta (2003), Perimeter Mall (2006), Mall of Georgia (2007), Augusta Mall (2009), and Cumberland Mall (2014).  Apple relocated and expanded its store in Perimeter Mall in late 2016, while it relocated its store from North Point Mall to Avalon last spring.  The Perimeter, Avalon and Cumberland Mall stores are about the size of the current Apple at Lenox. 

This past April, 9to5Mac, a popular Apple news and information website, published a very cool piece highlighting the later lives of former Apple stores.  

As a retailer, Apple is the king when it comes to sales per square foot.  According to industry data provided by eMarketer, Apple generated a staggering $5,546 per square foot in 2017.  By comparison, lululemon athletica was the leading clothing retailer in the 2017 report with sales of $1,560 per square foot. 

Current Apple at Lenox Square 

Based on these numbers and conversations with local real estate professionals, it's believed that the current Lenox Square Apple store generates about $50 million in annual revenue. 

There have been rumors for years that Apple is also looking to add an additional store or two in metro Atlanta. The idea of an Apple store at Colony Square is likely just another Mark Toro pipe-dream, but there is a strong possibility that an Apple store opens along the Beltline, potentially at Ponce City Market.  Another potential landing spot for a new Apple store is West Midtown, where there are a number of mixed use projects underway or planned.  

Are you excited at the prospect of having a bigger new Apple in Buckhead?  Do you plan to purchase one of the new Xs or Xs Max iPhones?  Where would you like to see Apple open their next Atlanta area store?

Please share your thoughts below

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The upscale mixed use shopping and dining development has been plagued by weak traffic, slow sales and a rash of retail and restaurant failures."

No...it hasn't. Quasi-national restaurant and retail chains that had a location in BA closing all their stores? Yes.

Otherwise, SoBA maintains its original retail tenant lineup and features two of the most popular restaurants inside the perimeter (La Bibloquet & Gypsy Kitchen).

Quit with the narratives that are purely speculation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update NEGATIVE NANCY....

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 1&2

This is Eli's blog if you don't like it then move on!!

Nasty a**!!

You be you Eli!

Unknown said...

SoBA is an absolute joke. The retail that does remain is likely paying dirt bottom rent rates.

It is an abysmal design. Has crazy tenants for Atlanta ... a French ski clothing company? Who thought that would be a big hit in the Dirty South?

Eli has been way ahead on SoBA from the jump.

Anonymous said...

Apple needs to open a retail location in the CoA. Colony Square would be awesome, but somewhere along the Beltline would be fantastic.

Anonymous said...

The first 2 posters must work hourly waged jobs at BA.

Unknown said...

Apple already has a store in the CoA...it's at Lenox Square

Anonymous said...

Apple's store at Lenox is looking extremely dated compared to their locations at Avalon and Perimeter. More than anything I hope to see a store at Ponce City Market. A large, glass-walled Apple store taking the place of the central courtyard and some of the parking lot in front of PCM would be the cherry on top of that development.

But they need to update the Lenox store too, and this would be a great move. It would also really help out the aesthetics of Lenox's front facade. I don't think any serious person actually believed Apple would open in Shops at BA or Colony Square.

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