Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

WINNER – The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta; Outlet mall to tap bustling I-575 corridor

March 1, 2013

By Martin Sinderman
Atlanta Business Chronicle

WINNER – The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta

A new outlet mall in a bustling north metro Atlanta suburb is enjoying leasing activity strong enough to convince its owners to open it sooner than originally planned — making the project the Retail Deal of the Year award winner in Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2012 Best in Atlanta Real Estate Awards.

Located at the newly constructed exit off Interstate 575 at Ridgewalk Parkway in the Cherokee County community of Woodstock, The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta is a 350,000-square-foot outlet center featuring retailers including Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Bose, Brooks Brothers, Columbia Sportswear, Cole Haan, White House|Black Market, Guess, Fossil, Michael Kors, Under Armour and Talbots.

The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta is a joint venture of CBL & Associates Properties Inc. and Horizon Group Properties Inc. They are co-developers, and Horizon is also responsible for leasing and managing the center.

Ground was broken for the center in May 2012, with an original planned opening slated for August of this year. But in December, its developers announced that it would be opening one month earlier than previously scheduled.

The property will be well over 90 percent leased at opening, according to Gary J. Skoien, Horizon’s president and CEO.

“Strong tenant demand, ongoing support from the city of Woodstock officials, and the speed of the construction permit accelerated the opening date of the center,” Skoien said. “We appreciate the efforts of the city and county officials who helped make this development a reality.”

“The sustained demand we are receiving from retailers interested in joining in the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta demonstrates the tremendous strength of the project,” said Michael Lebovitz, executive vice president of development and administration for CBL & Associates. “The outstanding retail names we have already signed up will deliver a shopping experience that everyone in the family can enjoy.”

According to a statement from Horizon, the center is expected to draw more than 4 million visitors annually. Designed by Charlotte, N.C.-based Adams & Associates, it will feature covered walkways and landscaped courtyards; a children’s play area; and a center court with fountains. The site can accommodate an additional 30,000 square feet of outlet shops, along with seven outparcels for restaurant, services and other retail uses.

Based in Chattanooga, Tenn., CBL & Associates Properties is a publicly traded (NYSE: CBL) real estate investment trust that owns an interest in 163 retail malls and shopping centers totaling 91.7 million square feet, including 9.4 million square feet of properties managed for third parties.

CBL’s portfolio in the Atlanta area is headed by Arbor Place, a 1.2 million-square-foot regional mall that opened in Douglasville in 1999, and is anchored by Bed Bath & Beyond, Belk, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears and an 18-screen Regal Cinema. It also includes The Landing at Arbor Place, a 162,985-square-foot strip center that also opened in 1999 in Douglasville, whose tenant roster is led by LifeWay Christian Store, Michaels Arts & Crafts, Shoe Carnival and Toys “R” Us.

Norton Shores, Mich.-based Horizon Group Properties is an owner, developer and manager of shopping centers, as well as the developer of a master-planned community in suburban Chicago. In addition to The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, its portfolio includes centers in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Cherokee is a fast-growing suburban county in the Atlanta region, trailing only Henry County. Its 2010 population of 214,334 represents a more than 51 percent increase over the level in 2000, according to statistics from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). By way of comparison, the population of the 10-county core Atlanta region grew by 19.78 percent. The median household income here in 2011 was $66,717, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, compared with $49,736 for the state of Georgia as a whole.

On the employment side, major employers in the county include poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride (825 employees), and Chart Industries Inc., maker of a variety of products for biomedical applications, such as oxygen therapy and the storage and distribution of biological tissue (552). According to the Cherokee Office of Economic Development 47 percent of the county’s residents have a post-secondary degree, while nearly 80 percent of the workforce commutes to other counties for work each day.

Real estate experts expect the outlet center to do well.

“This will be tremendous,” said Bilijack Bell, an industrial real estate specialist with Wilson, Hull & Neal, whose business includes land deals in this portion of the metro area.

The center will be opening its doors at about the same time as the new Cherokee County Aquatic Center, an indoor/outdoor facility located at Gresham Mill Parkway at Sixes Road, not far from the newly completed I-575/Ridgewalk exit, Bell said. It is also near a growing residential base in Woodstock.

This location is attractive for a number of reasons, according to Skoien.

“There are five major outlet malls around Atlanta, all of them pretty far removed from the population and tourism base of the city, so finding a ‘closer in’ location like this was a strong consideration,” he said. The demographics of the I-575 corridor reflect a strong market, he said, “in an area that is currently underserved by outlets.”

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