Tuesday, November 26, 2019

[EXCLUSIVE] New Plan Emerges at Former Doraville Kmart

The former Doraville Kmart site has new owners who are pitching a new redevelopment plan.  Previously known as "Nexus," new ownership has rechristened the project "Lotus Grove," with plans to add restaurants, retail, hotel, and multifamily housing, among other things, to the site.  Kmart, which opened along Buford Highway in 1971, closed its store in 2010.  Since then, there have been several ideas floated about a possible redevelopment of the 13.5 acre site.

The new "Lotus Grove" development would consist of two phases. The first phase is a mixed-use development fronting Buford Highway. The second phase (which could be constructed concurrently with phase 1) is a multifamily community containing 350 units to be located on the back portion of the site. The commercial phase is expected to contain approximately 73,200 SF of retail, 20,300 SF of office and a 22,000 SF “food hall.” The project would also include a 97 room, five story select service hotel, reportedly to be Tru by Hilton flagged property.

Macauley Investments, the firm behind "Nexus," had in 2015 proposed a redevelopment of the site similar to the current plan.   Nexus would have brought a mix of 350 apartments, 140 senior living units, a 140 key hotel and 44,000 square feet of retail space to the parcel.  Demolition was to have started in early 2016 with completion slated in late 2017.

Both phases will require structured parking to accommodate the respective building programs. The site plan prepared for Lotus Grove, LLC provides for 266 surface and 243 structured parking spaces in a two level structure.  
Chaz Lazarian, developer and the principal of Insignia, LLC, purchased the former Kmart property earlier this year for $11 million, according to DeKalb County property records. Lazarian previously developed the Global Forum shopping center at 7130 Buford Highway.  He has also proposed “Orchid Grove,” a similar redevelopment of Gwinnett Prado, a largely vacant shopping center along Pleasant Hill Road near Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth.  Orchid Grove, a reported $250 million project, would bring a mix of restaurants, retail, office, hotel, lofts, townhomes, multi-family, and two central parks, among other things, to the largely vacant 32 acre site.  Anchor Great Wall Supermarket, which occupies a former Target, would reportedly be the only existing tenant to remain.  Several outparcels, including a long vacant former Rio Bravo restaurant, would also be demolished as part of the new development.  The project, first proposed in 2016, was to be at least partially completed by 2017, but as of today nothing visible has been done.  Sources familiar with the project tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Lazarian now hopes to begin construction in early 2020. 

The planned inclusion of a food hall in the Doraville project is a bit of head-scratcher when you consider the cornucopia of worldly affordable options already available up and down Buford Highway.  Additionally, as many developers have decided, food halls are not as easy to fill and execute as one might hope.  Simon has abandoned plans for a food hall at One Phipps Plaza, replacing its allocated space with Pinstripes, an upscale bowling concept.  North American Properties is again without a food hall operator for its Colony Square redevelopment following the recent departure of Oz Rey, its third food hall partner.  Elsewhere in metro Atlanta, sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that things are not going as well as many had hoped at Marietta Square Market, while Fuqua Development continues to press forward with their food hall at their upcoming project, The Exchange at Gwinnett on Buford Drive in Buford.

Launched in early 2016 and designed to compete with Comfort Inn and La Quinta,  Tru by Hilton already has more than 50 properties open and more than a dozen more coming soon.  In Georgia, Tru has properties open in Savannah, Kennesaw and McDonough, with others coming soon to Lawrenceville and Northlake, among others.

"Doraville is committed to quality redevelopment that not only benefits future generations but also plays into the qualities that make our community unique. It is important to get it right, and I am ecstatic about the prospect of the former K-Mart site being redeveloped. Lotus Grove is a $116-Million mixed-use redevelopment that will feature a food hall, multiple restaurants, office, residential, and a vibrant national brand hotel that is new-to-market and will be a centerpiece for the new site" said Donna Pittman, Doraville's Mayor since 2011.  
"I have worked tirelessly for many years with our Planning Staff to work through the challenges the site has - I am excited to see it finally come to fruition. This project will set a new foundation for Buford Highway and many projects to come" Mayor Pittman added.  

No other Atlanta area Kmart store has seen this kind of redevelopment.  Several former Sears stores, however, are slated for significant redevelopment, most notably the former Sears at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, which is being reborn as mixed-use development "The Point."  

Are you excited to hear that there is renewed interest in redeveloping the former Doraville Kmart store?  What would you most like to see open as part of "Lotus Grove"?  Do you think a food hall makes sense along Buford Highway?  

Please share your thoughts below.  


Disneypal said...

I am excited about this but am optimistically cautious, since there have been promises of redevelopment of this site before, only to see nothing proceed. Other KMart locations have had redevelopment. For instance, the former K-Mart site on Clairmont Rd, is now a Sam's Club and the former K-Mart site at Lindburg Plaze, has a Target, Home Depot and several other retail/restaurants. Both of those have been very successful.

I would love to see a grocery store in this area in addition to the other proposed additions, since Doraville does not have a major grocery chain within the city limits.

I think the food hall will work depending on the type of places that open there.

Anonymous said...

The food hall concept works great at the Super H market in Doraville, though it is more of a traditional food court. Also, the food court at Chinatown shopping center on New Peachtree is a destination spot with outstanding food.
That said, the food hall at the Battery that is opening soon had problems filling the space, and it is a head scratcher that folks going to a ballgame will stop for bubble tea or ramen. Different crowds, for sure.
Don't underestimate Chaz Lazarian, however. If anyone can make it work, he can.

Unknown said...

A food court could make sense--not so much when view through the lens of"along Buford Hwy.," but when viewed through the lens of "apartment dwellers to the east of Buford Hwy" (& in the new development), many who are walkers, lack access to inexpensive food.

Anonymous said...

At least this developer actually owns the property unlike the last poser. Any city that accepts a meeting with Macaulay is foolish and wasting their time. The city will have 4 and possibly 5 new (younger) elected officials next year with great optimism for the city.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the new food hall in Alpharetta, the Daily? Has that been scrapped? I think with all the food options in Marietta Square that people have many other options than going to a food hall

Anonymous said...

I live near this Doraville location, but I'm really not sure I see this being a successful venture. The nearby vicinity is not that dense with upscale residential, or nice apartments, or the sort of 'community spirit' that exists in some other areas. I supported the Krispy Kreme, but it failed after a year. The Chick Fil A nearby does okay I think, but not as mobbed as many other CFAs. The shopping center with Burlingtons(?) is mostly pretty dead. This stretch of Buhi outside 285 is just not much of a hotbed of excitement. Maybe this development will help change that...

billb said...

This Doraville project to redevelop the KMart property is exciting. And as one anonymous said, a grocery store would certainly be welcomed-not a Publix or Kroger, but Trader Joe's, Aldi, Lidl, maybe. Apartments or condos to create a community that could support this effort are a must. Many "walkers" would make the success more likely. The Buford Highway is a 10 mile food mall. A food mall in this project would need to have some very unique tennants.

Doraville is a quite a changing community-from very industrial to whatever it is becoming-younger, hipper, affordable-check real estate prices, accessible-285,85,Buford Highway, Marta. Also, forward thinking elected officials. Best of luck to Chaz Lazarian and his comrades.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if we could attract a Trader Joe's or Aldi.

twombomb said...

I have lived ITP in Doraville for 4 years. The Assembly should be well on it's way by now along with this former K-Mart property. Needless to say, I'll believe it when I see it.

Booger said...


"I would love to see a grocery store in this area in addition to the other proposed additions, since Doraville does not have a major grocery chain within the city limits."

Seriously? You must not know very much about the Doraville/Chamblee portion of Buford Highway with it's current grocery shopping choices. To those that don't know, with the offerings already in place, who would shop at a Kroger or Publix in this immediate area? Traditional chain grocery retailers don't have a chance.

For example, once upon a time there was a Publix at N. E. Plaza. Care to venture a guess as to why it didn't last long?

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