Thursday, December 12, 2013

Avalon Insider Scoop, Conjecture, Facts and Figures

Mark Toro, known at times to count his eggs before they've hatched and one of the least modest developers in town, seems to be keeping a few recent signings close to the vest.

Avalon, currently under construction off Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta, is scheduled to open next October, and will encompass 86 acres and feature restaurant, retail, residential and office space.

According to multiple sources close to the project, Lacoste, Burberry, Kate Spade , Tiffany & Co. and Michael Kors are all opening at Avalon's Phase 2, slated for completion spring 2016.

In the case of Kate Spade, Burberry and Tiffany, an Avalon outpost for each will be only their second in the market, with Spade and Burberry at Lenox Square and Tiffany at Phipps.

Homewood Suites by Hilton is also reportedly planning a hotel on the property in conjunction with the planned convention center.  Stormont Hospitality Group has been named as the hotel's developer with the hope that both properties would be open spring 2016.  Homewood Suites is not a full-service hotel as had been promised by North American, so there may, in fact, be two hotels in the works.

There is no doubt that Toro and friends have assembled a serious roster of restaurants, retailers and amenities, but comparing Avalon to the likes of The Grove in Los Angeles and The Domain in Austin is a stretch.  North Fulton county is a completely different environment than either Los Angeles or Austin.  In addition, as I've visited both The Domain and The Grove, both have anchor department stores, a key component Avalon lacks.  In the case of The Domain, Neiman Marcus, Macy's and Dillard's each have stores at the project, and The Grove has a Nordstrom and the added coolness of an onsite Farmer's Market.

Below is a list of tenants reportedly committed to the project as of last week:

Whole Foods Market, Regal Cinemas, Orvis, Anthropologie, Paper Source, Athleta, Banana Republic, Everything But Water, lululemon athetica, Ted's Montana Grill, a Ford Fry concept, Destination Maternity, C. Wonder, Marlow's Tavern, Gymboree, Flywheel, Free People, Dry Bar, Kona Grill, Luxury Nails, Pinkberry, Fab'rik, Janie & Jack, Van Michael, Aveda Salon, Arhaus, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, PNC Bank, Bocado Burger Bar, Francesca's, L'Occitane, Bantam + Biddy, Cru Food & Wine, Tommy Bahama, Kinnucan's, Antico Pizza Napoletana, Exhale Spa, Vineyard Vines, West Elm, Marmi, Gap, Sage, Oak Steakhouse, Kendra Scott, Pottery Barn Kids, Fuzziwig's Candy Factory, American Threads, The Cosmetic Market and Giovanni DiPalma's Caffe Gio.

North American is reportedly in "final lease negotiations" with Crate & Barrel for Phase 1 and Lilly Pulitzer for Phase 2.

Among the more notable openings restaurant-wise, are Kona Grill, CRU Food & Wine Bar  and Oak Steakhouse, all of which are firsts in Atlanta market.

Missing from this new list are Yard House and YEAH! Burger, both previously announced as confirmed, but seemingly no longer involved in the project.

With both Gap and Banana Republic opening in Avalon, their existing stores in North Point Mall are sure to close.  Interestingly, when the project was known as Prospect Park and being developed by Stan Thomas, local government insisted that their be no "poaching" by Prospect Park of existing tenants of North Point. When Toro was presented with this stipulation, he threatened not to develop and local authorities caved.  Many see the removal of this clause as the first government-supplied nail in the coffin of North Point.

In terms of office space, I've heard no "sexy" or "exciting" names coming to Avalon.  According to a release, Wakefield Beasley and Associates, Integrated Care Management and Dental Town have all committed to the project.

OliverMcMillan,  on the other hand, has already announced that Atlanta-based Spanx will relocate their headquarters to its Buckhead Atlanta project, and Jamestown recently inked Atlanta-based MailChimp to 100,000 square feet of office space at Ponce City Market.

There is no doubt that a housing recovery is underway, but Toro's claim that there is a 1000+ person waiting list for one of Avalon's 100 or so single family homes is hard to believe.

Are you a neighbor worried about the incentives being provided for the sake of economic development? 

Are you a local concerned about added traffic congestion? 

Do you fear the popularity of the "new" Avalon project will lead to "old" North Point becoming the next Gwinnett Place or Northlake Mall?

Please weigh in below.


Anonymous said...

It sounds exciting but I hope it doesn't ruin Northpoint. The mall is not that old. Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Don't know much about this particular project but certain retailers tend to hang together. Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel and Container Store are three that come to mind. If WF, C&B are going in there, Container Store might follow.

J Leeds said...

I'd be a lot more concerned if Avalon was snagging any of the anchors from North Point. The Gap isn't that big of a loss. (Although I would have preferred that Abercrombie and Stench be the one leaving...)

Some of the dining establishments are interesting at Avalon. And I'm hoping that the Whole Foods is one of their showcase locations (like the one my brother works at in Chicago). But the retail selection so far doesn't interest me, which tells me that I'm not their target audience.

It wasn't just Discover Mills that killed Gwinnett Place. It was also Mall of Georgia. And Gwinnett Place was an older, smaller mall.

Anonymous said...

North Point is toast. Malls in general are toast, but this is a classic situation that retail built in a way that can only be supported by people driving to it from all over will fade away when someone builds a better mousetrap for people to drive to. Sorry North Fulton, your mall is on the way out.

Anonymous said...

The blogger just wants to see Toro fail. That's all there is to it.

Anonymous said...

Signs are already up at Gap that they will close all of their operations inside NP mall (Gap, GapKids, GapBody) on December 28. No signs up at Banana Republic. Yet.

Anonymous said...

Your constant digs at Toro read like those of a scorned lover. It's unbecoming of your blog, which otherwise is very well done.

Anonymous said...

I have commented previously that you seem to experience schadenfreude as others struggle in the businesses you write about. I am certain I am not alone in feeling awkward by that. I agree with the earlier comment (1:41) regarding your dissing of Toro. Both things I mention are very off-putting. Did you ever watch Dragnet, the cop show? Remember Sgt. Joe Friday's signature line, "Just the facts, ma'am"? Those words transcend.

Anonymous said...

If Crate & Barrel is opening there, then you can be sure that their store on Northpoint Parkway is closing as well. That lease was up last year and they are not doing very well at that location.

Atlantan99 said...

@various anons RE: Toro,

This post was (IMHO) one of the calmest, most neutral posts on Avalon I have composted to date. I stated various facts, some speculation and my thoughts on the project. Avalon may very well be the success Toro claims it will be. One thing I've learned from working in hospitality for over five years is that you never want to over promise and under deliver. Toro has set an extremely high bar for himself and for the project and I'm just doubtful it will be able to live up to all the hype.

As always, thanks for your feedback and comments.

Anonymous said...

While the project and location aren't my style I think it will be a success because it is right up the alley of the residents up that way.

Anonymous said...

If C&B is not doing well in Alpharetta why would they move? Wouldn't they just close?

Anonymous said...

My take is that if Avalon is attractive, upscale, safe and convenient, they should do well in the area regardless of the exact store mix. If they miss on any of those, all bets are off.

Any speculation on what will become of Northpoint Mall? To me it's always had a cheap look and feel relative to incomes around it, even from the day it opened. They've mixed in more low end stores over the years. Last time I was there it was filled mostly with just teenagers wandering around. Seems like a waste of retail space given there are plenty of households with significant disposable income in North Fulton.

Anonymous said...

People in the Upper 400 area are dying for Avalon to be built. They can't stand having to travel to Buckhead for specialty stores like lululemon and Orvis. The retail portion of the project is a slam dunk. Not sure about the residential component/mix.

Big and growing bigger companies there, high paying jobs, better than average public schools, Country Clubs, new and old money. It's a pretty ripe market for a project like Avalon right now.

I could be wrong... but I think it's the largest or one of the largest projects of its kind in the US right now.

Tres said...

I've brought this up before (when Bloomingdale's closed at Perimeter). Call me crazy, but I think this would be a good place for Lord & Taylor to set up shop. They've been slowly but surely opening new stores (and extensively renovating existing ones) and even re-entered South Florida this past fall with a new store in West Palm Beach. It's a bit of a stretch, I know, but it would be a hoot if they made a return to Atlanta via Avalon.

gabluebonnet said...

Why can't they get a high end department store to come to Alpharetta? We are tired of driving and fighting traffic to shop. A Nordstrom would do really well here. If Avalon becomes more like a Lenox/Phipps it will do well and Northpoint will remain. If Avalon becomes what The Avenues is in Cumming (a 10 min drive)
we can kiss the Northpoint area good bye! A large "Gaylord" type hotel would do amazing things here as well.

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