Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Changes in Store at Toco Hills

Signage on North Druid Hills for the collective Toco Hills shopping center 
Major changes at historic intown center 

Edens, the Columbia, South Carolina owner of Toco Hills Promenade, has signed a 35 year ground lease on  Toco Hills(s) Shopping Center

Toco Hill(s) shopping center was built in 1956 by notable Atlanta developer Clyde Shepherd, Jr.  Shepherd reportedly named the center Toco Hills in homage to the word "Toco," to which he was introduced in Brazil, and which he said translated to "more luck than you can imagine."

Shepherd, a graduate of Druid Hills High School, built a number of "Hill" shopping centers including Sage Hill on Briarcliff Road and Skye Hill, at Clairmont Road and Buford Highway. 

Shepherd died in 2010 at the age of 96, but his family through various subsidiaries maintains ownership in a number of his properties.  

Toco Hills Promenade 
In doing research for this post I learned that the "Toco Hills" shopping district I knew as two centers, was in fact three.  "Toco Hills Promenade" extends from Uncle Maddio's Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe past Publix to Jimmy John's.  
The separation of the two centers occurs here 
The second center starts at the alleyway beyond Jimmy John's and extends from Famous Pub and Office Depot (formerly Linen Loft and before that, A&P) to the strip including Bagel Palace and the UPS store to Matsuya, the Japanese restaurant.  The center also includes the freestanding clock tower property.  
The wall extends beyond the roof-line to separate the second and third portions of the center 
The final portion extends from the acupuncture facility to the right of Matsuya, including Kroger, on to Pike Family Nursery.  

The Shepherd family ground leased the Office Depot-anchored portion to Edens, retaining the Kroger-anchored portion in their portfolio.  
Office Depot anchors the second portion of the center 
The freestanding out-parcel property (in front of Kroger) on LaVista Road that up until a few years ago had a home on it, is not included in any of the properties and is actively being marketed for redevelopment.  (A Cabana Grill was proposed for the property in early 2014, but those plans failed to materialize and the concept has since exited the Atlanta market.) 

In a press release, seemingly incorrectly stating that the company had "acquired" Toco Hills Shopping Center, EDENS seemed to indicate they plan to merge the two centers.   

"EDENS envisions bringing a cohesive feel to the shops and restaurants facing North Druid Hills Road through design and a diverse retail mix."

One of many issues that could arise in the combination of the two centers is that Goldberg's ("Goldbers,"according to the Edens website,) is located in the Promenade portion, while Bagel Palace is located in Toco Hills shopping center.   Bagel Palace opened in 1993, whereas Goldberg's Bagel & Deli opened in Toco Hills Promenade in 2010. There may very well be lease issues in having the two similar businesses in the same center, should the two centers be joined under a single umbrella.  

Edens purchased Toco Hills Promenade in January 2006 from then-owner Brandywine. The 154,000 square foot center, anchored by a 52,000 square foot Publix Supermarket, has changed hands a number of times over the years.

Although the most recent transaction occurred last month, the Edens website does not yet reflect the new property. 

In addition to Toco Hills Promenade (and now Toco Hills shopping center), Edens' Atlanta area holdings include Tuxedo Festival, Andrews Square, Brookwood Village, Buckhead Market Place and Lenox Marketplace in Buckhead, Fountain Oaks in Sandy Springs, Merchant's Walk in East Cobb and Alpharetta Commons in Alpharetta.  

Edens is also the developer trying to build a new Publix-anchored center near the intersection of Moores Mill Road, Bolton Road and Marietta Boulevard.  The project has been tied up in bureaucratic red tape and politics for nearly a decade.  

What are your thoughts on this development?  What is your earliest memory of the collective Toco Hills shopping centers? (My first job was at Kroger Toco Hill.)   What would you like to see open in the Toco Hills centers?

Please share your thoughts below.  


brian said...

My first job "official" job was also at the Toco Hill Kroger. I worked there for about a year and a half in the mid-80s. Started as a bagger and moved up to the deli. Seems like teenagers don't take these kinds of jobs anymore.
The strongest memories I have of the job are the shoplifting incidents I witnessed. I remember being asked to help hold down a large man who'd been caught stealing cigarettes. It took 4 of us to keep him on the floor until police arrived. Another time I saw managers quietly confront a little old lady who'd been stealing canned food. She was bawling like a baby. Sad.
The other memory I have is of the wonderful smell of coffee from the place next door (I think it's still there). I didn't drink coffee then, but I sure liked the smell of it.

Anonymous said...

I think Toco Hills is a pretty good shopping center now. I hope this change doesn't force out some of the current businesses like Ace Hardware. Shoe Center or Liquor Store.

Eric said...

The oversized and boldface type used for hyperlinked text embedded in this story is extremely annoying, to say nothing of unprofessional.

Unknown said...

Blackbird13, teenagers don't take these jobs because adults need them now. Hell, I got out of college and worked at the Toco Publix for 5 months while I looked for work. I remember a few young guys - maybe teens- working as baggers. But most of the employees were there for a long time because there aren't as many jobs as there used to be for inexperienced or unskilled workers.

Toco's a good spot.

Unknown said...

Ive lived next door to the Toco center since 2008 and my roommate who is a very active quadriplegic with an assistance dog motors next door to kroger almost daily for over 10 years. This is a wonderful neighborhood with all our needs from postal service through thrift stores and historic bagel places and coffee shops. We have several fine restaurants from french to indian to thai. It has been ideal and culturally diverse and I hope it stays that way. If they want to maintain it more uniformly that is what I would expect. I love the definition of toco.

brian said...

Ryan, Good point, and from what I understand many of the retailers/fast food places demand open availability now, which makes it tough for kids in school looking for part time work on a limited schedule.

Anonymous said...

Which landlord owns the "stand alone" stores (Toco Giant, for example)?

Anonymous said...

My second job was at the A&P across the street. I grew up in that shopping center....from Hickok's Sporting Goods, to Cosmos Arcade, German Bakery, Ben Franklin's, McDonald's, Uncle Alfred at the shoe store, and everything in between.

My first job was at the Chick-Fil-A right down the street at N. Druid & Briarcliff. Our manager at that first free standing CFA store is now the Senior VP of operations for the company.

Anonymous said...

A "historic" sprawling shopping center? LOL What's next a historic porta-potty?

Anonymous said...

Edens should abandon the shopping center at the end of Moores Mill Rd and Bolton. They will have to spend a fortune in security to keep from being robbed thus extremely high prices. The people in that area have a very nice Kroger near Vinings and a Publix and Kroger only a few miles away. Be ware Edens.

Anonymous said...

In the mid-sixties, Toco had a great hobby shop with amazing slot car tracks. It was right in the middle section, near where Publix is located. Upstairs was a large barber shop. That section was anchored by a movie theater on the end, facing the parking lot. I saw the movie "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte",(Betty Davis) which was a controversial thriller at the time.At the other end of Toco where the Health Food faces Lavista, was a convenience store named "Pot 'O Gold". It had a big colorful neon sign on its roof: a pot overflowing with gold coins under a rainbow. I loved going there with my dad.

Across North Druid, on the corner of Lavista where the Sambo's turned Skeeters turned Longhorn is and the LA Fitness behind - was DeKalb elementary school W.D. Thomson. It was a feeder for Druid Hills High, and later for Briarcliff High I believe. I do not remember what year it closed. Anyone?

Unknown said...

I have wonderful memories of the movie theatre from the late 70's to the mid 80's. I saw many great first-run films on that giant screen, one of the last holdouts. Just before the space was renovated and subdivided for the bagel restaurant, you could still see the remnants of the lobby through the dusty glass doors. I guess the actual auditorium is still back there behind all of those shops...

Unknown said...

Funny.... My 1st job was at That Kroger , also in the mid-80's. I also had dance classes all my life at Druid Hills Dance Centre that was at the alley split next to Famous Pub .... It was below the shoe store to the left. Haven't been by in years but I know the dance center owner moved to LaVista at Oak Grove due to rats that took over the building. I am still in contact with her. Wonder if we worked together at Kroger.....

brian said...

It's quite possible we worked together if you were a cashier or worked in the deli.The store manager when I was there was a very short, balding man. I think I was there in 1985 and part of 1986. I was a skinny tall guy and sort of a metal head.

Unknown said...

I believe I was there in 1986 as well.
I don't remember the management team - only the front end supervisors.

Ray Rogers said...

I opened my Ray Rogers/State Farm Insurance Agency at Toco Hill Shopping Center in 1958 and operated there continually for over 57 years retiring and closing my agency Oct.31st, 2015. I was actually in three different locations in the center during this time. I am sure that I was a tenant at Toco Hill longer than any other. My first office there was upstairs over the Pot-O-Gold. I remember when John Kennedy ran for president that the line of voters came out the door of the W D Thompson school and went almost down to the Presbyterian Church. Since I have retired I have been busy writing my 2nd book. My first book was Depression Baby sold through Amazon.com. Being at Toco Hill all those years was a pleasurable experience!

Anonymous said...

My earliest enduring memory of this shopping center is of the Taffy's that was there for a time in the '80s (and perhaps earlier - I'm a bit too young to remember anything before the early-'80s). Taffy's was a store that sold dancewear for dancers and dance students. As a youth, I was infatuated with ballet and dance for a time - and I was an enthusiastic dance student for awhile - so seeing a Taffy's at that time was almost like a sugar-addict spotting a candy store. If memory serves, the Toco Hills Taffy's was located on the upper-level (in the part of the shopping center that has an upper-level).

Given how things can change so much over the years - I wish that I had really taken in the other businesses that graced Toco Hills over the years, so that I could have stronger memories of what all was in this shopping center. I suppose that my 2nd-earliest memory is of the Georgia Department of Labor - which has been there since at least the late-'80s or early-'90s. I can't exactly remember if my memory of being inside of this place comes from my own solo visits, or from accompanying my cousin to this place during his job searches. Perhaps both?

Anonymous said...

Do you remember where Davis brothers cafeteria was?

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