Monday, August 11, 2014

Lots Going on at Phipps Plaza, Just Not Where We Thought

Phipps Plaza is getting hundreds of apartments and hundreds of hotel rooms, but not in the locations previously announced

Indianapolis, Indiana-based Simon Property Group plans to partner with Atlanta-based Noble Investment Group and build a 164 room AC by Marriott hotel near the corner of Peachtree and Wieuca Roads.  Simon also intends to partner with Columbus Realty Partners Ltd. to build a 319-unit apartment complex towards the back of Phipps Plaza, near Phipps Boulevard and close to the fire station.  

Incorrectly attributed previously as Peachtree and Wieuca Roads, this sketch is actually of Phipps Boulevard at Wieuca Road
Additionally, a sketch of Phipps Plaza I obtained seems to show a dramatic remodel and enhancement to the Peachtree Road facing side of the mall.  Reminiscent of the colorful signage at The Shops At Crystals at Aria Las Vegas, the rendering of Phipps Plaza shows branding for existing retailers Jeffrey and Valentino but also for YSL (Yves Saint Laurent.)  Some could say this suggests that a YSL store is coming to Phipps Plaza, but as any fashionista would know, the "YSL" branding has been phased out in boutiques and for the brand's ready-to-wear lines.  (This controversial move was made in 2012 by then newly-hired creative director Hedi Slimane.)  

Rendering of enhanced Phipps Plaza looking south on Peachtree Road
As shown in the rendering, it would seem as though the mall entrance between Yebo and Twist will be become the mall's "grand" entrance.  The rendering also seems to reflect increased mall branding and area landscaping.

Interior renovations and enhancements such as lounge areas are underway while other changes such as stairway repainting and increased lighting have already taken place. 

Rendering on interior "lounge area" and lighting enhancements 
Real estate sources indicate that Yebo signed a short term deal when it opened in the mall in the summer of 2012. Chicago-based Prasino is one restaurant that has reportedly expressed interest in opening at the mall, possibly in place of Yebo (likely requiring additional space, perhaps from Elie Tahari.)  I have never had the pleasure of dining at Prasino, although I did get to experience their short-lived fast casual Mediterranean eatery Covo Gyro Market.  I gather that Prasino is a Mediterranean influenced and slightly more upscale version of True Food Kitchen. 

Another seemingly standalone and unnamed restaurant is shown on the map as being located adjacent to the AC hotel, basically on top of the Nordstrom parking deck.

Click the photo to view the locations of proposed additions to Phipps Plaza
A single "luxury storefront" is also reportedly part of the project. 

Simon Property Group making use of what is sees as underutilized space is nothing new.  

In 2010, the 20-story Phipps Tower office building was built on Simon property adjacent to Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, close to Lenox Road.  Before Phipps Tower, the space was greenspace and parking.  

While renovations are nearly complete at Lenox Square, some 440 apartments are still in the works for the small parcel of land behind Bloomingdales overlooking GA 400. Lenox Square is also getting a Diane von F├╝rstenberg (DVF) boutique, over 15,000 square foot, two-level Topshop store, Bantam & Biddy restaurant, wokdragon eateryTesla showroom and more to be announced.  

One of the oldest malls in Atlanta, Lenox Square opened in 1959.  Phipps Plaza opened ten years later in 1969.  Updates and enhancements are surely needed to keep the malls fresh and popular but the amount of congestion and traffic these "enhancements" are likely to add is worrisome.  

The congestion is my biggest concern and it seems many readers of this blog agree.  The area around Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza is already a nightmare at rush hour and with the holiday season fast approaching, things will only get worse.  To build so much, so densely, could be a good idea, IF conceived in conjunction with alternative transit options.  This doesn't seem to be the case around Lenox and Phipps.  

As I detailed last week, Buckhead Atlanta will reportedly see the opening of about a dozen restaurants and retailers next month.  After reading that update, several readers re-ignited the debate of Atlanta versus other cities, as did Phipps Plaza and its offerings and traffic.  

What are your thoughts on the plans for Lenox & Phipps as opposed to the upcoming offerings at Buckhead Atlanta? Does the idea of no "pedestrian only" streets at Buckhead Atlanta make sense?  What transit or pedestrian friendly enhancements would you like to see at either project?  

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

I get the apartments at Phipps but do not get them at Lenox. Again, that section can have brutal access during the weekends. It doesn't make sense to build apartments there. Just because you have the land and can build it, doesn't mean you should. So stupid. Highest and best use but what about common sense?

Anonymous said...

Because everyone wants to be stuck in traffic for hours just for the privilege of living next to a schizophrenic mall that thinks LEGOLAND is a good match for designer stores.

Amy said...

traffic at the malls is so bad all hours of the day and gridlocks. Phipps is drab and I go to Saks and leave as you would think it is its own store separate. And funny a grand entrance to a mall that sits so far away from ALL parking lots is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

The arguments about traffic and parking are silly to me. Traffic is going to be bad regardless. And there is no sign that our city will improve public transportation infrastructure any time soon. If we use the traffic argument against every new development, we won't have any development at all in this city. Accept the traffic and move on or move to somewhere that doesn't have traffic.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the traffic between Lenox and Piedmont on the weekends? Yesterday at 3pm it was straight up gridlock like snowmaggedon just without the snow. It's like that every. single. weekend. I know because I live right there and get held hostage where I live. It sucks.

Anonymous said...

If you feel like a "traffic hostage", i have a 4 letter word for you... B I K E.

Biking is a huge part of the solution. Even with Atlanta's crappy bike infrastructure, I can get anywhere around Buckhead, Ansley, Brookhaven in less time and with less stress than in a car. Its, fun, almost free and you get a health benefit.

Anonymous said...

Um, yeah, I do bike but sometimes you just can't get to where you want to go on a bike. And biking in Buckhead is a death wish. I did it on Sunday for some reason and it was a constant reminder of why I don't do it more often.

Anonymous said...

People MUST be seen in the motor vehicles they cannot really afford, and heaven forbid they bike around in those haute threads they cannot really afford either.

Anonymous said...

Not at all a deathwish... Ive been 90% on bike now for a year and had one minor incident.

I have people say to me all the time "i wish I could bike everywhere".. And I reply" you can"... And likely in less time than driving. Rain is my only bogeyman but I manage around it.

Anonymous said...

I think we can all agree that the traffic is bad. But using that as the primary reason to put a moratorium on development is not a good idea. We would just stifle all development because no matter what, traffic will be bad.

Imandy said...

When will they focus on long term lease improvements. That Macys store for instance is disgusting right out of the Brady Bunch. And I love Macy's!

Anonymous said...

I gave the correct location of the AC Marriott hotel and new housing at Phipps weeks ago in your comments. :)

Seems awful strange to worry about building density in one of the best-served-by-transit parts of the city.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person that doesn't think the traffic around buckled is all that bad considering were in the middle of a city of 5 MILLION people? Has anyone ever spent a Friday afternoon around aventura mall in miami or Tyson's corner in DC or Roosevelt field in NYC? Its not pretty. Big cities have lots of traffic, especially near malls, no matter what kind of public transit they have. NYC has the best public transport in the US, but it can take three hours to drive from manhattan to LI on a bad day. Now that's traffic. If you are ready for a city with less traffic, you might try out Tifton. The cracker barrel is hiring.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

A city of 5 million, with an infrastructure built for 2.5. What you're seeing is development with privatized profits and socialized costs.

Anonymous said...

B I N G O!

Grease the pockets of politicians... Legally and illegally. Build, Build, Build... Y'all can tax, tax, tax... It's a big circle jerk.

Anonymous said...

A city of 2.5 million? That's Charlotte's size. I don't think Atlanta's current infrastructure would be necessary in a city like Charlotte. Could it be better in Atlanta? Sure, but I don't think the infrastructure is THAT bad. Philadelphia, Washington, etc. are worse.

Anonymous said...

The traffic is all about the grid, or lack thereof. No grid, super blocks, very limited public transit, on top of high growth and you get bad traffic.

We also tend to cluster our development instead of filling in the gaps. There are several areas on Lenox between E Paces Ferry and Peachtree that would be great for development but nothing is being done there (lots between Houstons and the Marriott)

Anonymous said...

I totally understand the privatized profit and socialized cost aspect of roads and traffic, but unfortunately that's the way a lot of business works in the US. Obesity and smoking, health insurance, property insurance, the list goes on...I think it isn't fair, but it's definitely not just limited to transit.

As far as cities with truly amazing transit I think you really have to look at Asia , places like hongkong, Singapore, Tokyo. But the densities there are crazy, and the cost of car ownership is off the charts, so unless Atlanta hits 20 million people and then puts a 300 percent tax on cars, we're gonna be sitting in traffic on peachtree. No matter what.

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