Thursday, October 7, 2021

[UPDATE] A Peek Inside the Progress at Northlake Mall

When Northlake Mall opened on October 6, 1971, the mall was home to exciting new locations of Sears, JCPenney and Davison's.  Wednesday October 6, 2021, the mall, along with its new owners, the Tucker-Northlake CID, and several other politicians, business owners and one lucky millennial who grew up shopping it regularly, celebrated the mall's 50th anniversary!  Many would consider Northlake a "dead mall," and they're not wrong.  The new owners realize this and have plans to significantly reduce the space dedicated to traditional mall services.  

It's worth noting that Northlake Mall has now outlived the Georgia Dome by 25 years, the "Roswell East" SuperTarget by 42 years and the East Cobb Pollo Tropical by about 49 years!  That said, to ensure that the mall is still around 50 years from now, the mall's owners ATR Corinth Partners, in collaboration with the Tucker-Northlake CID, has put plenty of time, effort, resources and money into what ATR partner Frank Mihalopoulos called the mall's "evolution."  

Following the closure of Kohl's (2016), Sears (2018) and JCPenney (2020), the mall's only remaining anchor is Macy's. (Kohl's opened in the former Parisian which had been added to the mall in 1994, while the Davison's banner was replaced by Macy's.)  Emory Healthcare has leased both the former Sears and former Kohl's spaces with plans for the two-level JCPenney space to be dedicated to office leasing, too.  

As usual, ATR partner Tony Ruggeri was tight-lipped about what deals were "in the hopper," as he is not so much superstitious but does not want to over-promise and under-deliver on would-be new tenants.  Mihalopoulos was a bit more open, hinting that the firm is engaged in discussions with both local and national restaurants and plans to split the former Ruby Tuesday/Crescent Moon/Fork in the Road space into two restaurant spaces that leasing documents indicate with be about 3,500 and 2,600 square feet, respectively.  Both restaurants will also have patio seating with plans for the current porte cochère to largely be eliminated making way for the patio seating and upfront parking.  The classic "Northlake Mall" marque will remain in place, but be significantly updated.  

Aside from Emory Healthcare, the only "done deals" are a new "state of the art" branch of the CDC Federal Credit Union that is under construction as a new outparcel along Briarcliff Road and a relocated Foot Locker store that will open in what was formerly Men's Warehouse, near the mall's main entrance.  The roughly 6,200 square foot new Foot Locker, which Mihalopoulos indicated is expected to open in time for this year's holiday shopping season, will consolidate existing lower level locations of Foot Locker and Kids Foot Locker as well as elements of Ladies Foot Locker and Champs Sports.  

Stamp & Coin, the mall's longest tenured tenant, has been in the mall since it opened, and is expected to be part of its evolution.  Other businesses around Stamp & Coin such as a phone repair shop and GNC could also be part of the mall's next phase, with ATR indicating the hallway and immediately surrounding spaces will be the primary retail/service area of the mall.  Service-wise the development company is looking to bring in cycling, fitness and other related businesses to enhance the appeal of the mall, which, oh by the way, will soon be known simply as "Northlake."  

A special coin created to commemorate Northlake Mall's 50th anniversary 

The three most noticeable changes we noted on our visit Wednesday were the removal of the escalator that was once positioned to the left of the main entrance, opposite the elevator.  The escalator and other 70s era decorative elements have been removed to bring in more natural light and modernize the interior.  Also, on a sentimentally sad note, the fountain at center court, in front of JCPenney, was not just off, [it had a platform covering it, the last we knew], but completely gone, with plans for a new staircase to bring patrons from the mall's main entrance to the former fountain area below, in the coming months.  

Lastly, a few spaces down from Great American Cookies, tarp covered spaces where a new walkway is being constructed.  One space was completely removed (exposing the floor beneath) while two adjacent spaces will reportedly eventually become both a walkway and office space.  The removal of the entire space was quite surreal but did remind us of a similar but more dramatic move made by Simon Property Group (the former owners of Northlake Mall) when they added a second floor to their Lenox Square "Luxury Wing" in 2007 and relocated both Brooks Brothers and American Eagle to accommodate the expansion. 

It's been more than five and a half years since ATR purchased Northlake Mall.  ATR, their partners, the Tucker-Northlake CID, existing tenants and countless area residents are no doubt eager for Northlake to once again be a vibrant, active center, to again be the neighborhood and regional amenity it was for so many years.  Unfortunately for everyone, retail was already hurting before COVID, and retailers are taking even more time now than ever to vet sites and approve expansions.  Add to that labor shortages, production delays and this little component called steel that is kind of vital to commercial construction, and you get a perfect storm of issues causing  delays.  

To be clear, ATR is committed to the project and contrary to some comments from ToNeTo Atlanta readers, they have not "abandoned their plans,"  "run out of money," or "given up."  Northlake of the future may be sans Sears, JCPenney, GAP, Sanrio Surprises, Social Expressions, KB Toys, Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, The Disney Store, Structure, Blockbuster Music, Express, Britches, Spencer's, Ruby Tuesday, Gadzooks, Wolf Camera and Victoria's Secret, among others, but it promises to have a new crop of retailers, restaurants and service providers for the community to love and enjoy.  

What types of businesses would you most like to see open in Northlake?  Are you excited to see the changes happening at Northlake?  What is your fondest memory of Northlake Mall?

Please share your thoughts below  


scgirl said...

Sure hope that Macy's stays open.

Anonymous said...

What a SHAME they removed the fountain. Why can't anything sacred be KEPT???

Anonymous said...

Extremely excited! Yes, it has been frustrating how long it has taken for them to get things moving. However, I don't think it's a coincidence that as soon as that property was incorporated into the City of Tucker, things started happening. Yes, it is still frustrating to not have specific names mentioned for new tenants. But, I do understand that leases should be signed before announcements are made. Just seeing the construction that is going on there now is exciting. There is no way bringing 1600 employees into that area is not going to bring good changes.

Mike said...

Where are those on the east side of town supposed to go clothing shopping now that Kohls and JC Penney have closed? Walmart? Target? No thank you. Some clothing dept store needs to open on the east side so we're not always going up to Alpharetta to get clothes

Anonymous said...

I buy clothes at Target all the time! What's wrong with Target?

Ham said...

I think this is a good strategy and probably about all they can do at this point. Office workers can provide plenty of foot traffic for the right mix of businesses. However, as good as it sounds, I wonder why I would go there instead of Lenox, Perimeter or any number of more attractive places.

Anteus99 said...

How about trader Joe's or Lidl

Kat said...

I worked at both Wolf Camera stores there for years. it's sad to see both Northlake and North Dekalb Malls deteriorate.
one reason I would go there over Lenox? I prefer not to dodge gunfire when shopping. I couldn't tell you why Lenox is a magnet for gun carrying patrons right now but I don't feel safe there anymore.

Anonymous said...

I agree we need more shopping, especially for clothes. I liked JC Penney, but at least Macy's is staying.

Anonymous said...

Macy's told me they were not going anywhere

DoodleGirlGa said...

Isn't it time for Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour / Restaurant to make a comeback in malls?!?!

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