In 2009, Shops Around Lenox was a nondescript strip center near a mall in Atlanta with a hulking Comp USA and a sea of parking. A few short years later, it has been transformed into a high-end center with upscale tenants, happening restaurants and memorable urban design.The renovation of Shops Around Lenox is a great realestate story, a tale of how a smart developer with a vision managed to turn a major profit despite the Great Recession. It’s a story about design, place-making and curating the right tenants.
And it’s a story about landscape design. Our landscape architecture firm Site solutions was part of the collaborative design team, and we are proud of the significant role our design played in the rebirth of Shops Around Lenox. We also believe there are lessons that landscape architecture firms—as well as investors, developers, architects, marketers and leasing agents—can learn from the turnaround.
Healey Weatherholtz Properties, Atlanta, with partner, Baltimore-based Alex. Brown Realty, paid $24.5 million for Shops Around Lenox next door to Lenox Square mall in 2009. Healey Weatherholtz Properties is led by Eric Weatherholtz and Quill Healey. The pair had a vision of an upscale, artsy place with great restaurants and retail. People would go there not just to buy but to spend time. Healey Weatherholtz Properties spent $20 million upgrading the property with the help of a design team that included public artists (local muralists Hense and Peter Ferrari); architecture firm ASD, Atlanta; and Site solutions. Meanwhile, the leasing team at Healey Weatherholtz Properties worked to re-tenant the property. Crate & Barrel replaced Comp USA. Other big-box stores were split into small specialty retail spaces for leading national brands, such as lululemon athletica, Cosabella and Paper Source, and independent fashion retailers, like Deka and Swank. Local restaurateurs opened Bhojanic and Seven Lamps.
In 2011, Healey Weatherholtz Properties sold the 125,000-square-foot property for a whopping $71.8 million, or about $575 per square foot, to Chicago-based RREEF America LLC, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. It was the highest price paid per square foot for any in-town Atlanta shopping center in the past year, according to Databank.
The property won awards, including the Development of Excellence in 2011 from the Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C. ULI’s Development of Excellence award recognizes successful execution of creative and sustainable real-estate projects. Shops Around Lenox, with its focus on design, art and reuse of an existing structure, fit the bill.“Shops Around Lenox stood out as a clear winner this year, as they took a gamble to renovate an aging 40 percent leased strip center in a year where risktaking wasn’t encouraged,” ULI awards co-chair and executive producer Tara Makarechi told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “The renovation is the perfect example of how modern design and fresh tenancy can revitalize existing infrastructure. With premium closed-air shopping all throughout Atlanta, Shops Around Lenox fills a void for a premium open-air retail destination.”
The Role of Landscape Architecture
Our client Healey Weatherholtz Properties gave clear design direction: Create something urban and edgy and make it feel different from the typical suburban look in Atlanta.
PHOTOS: Site solutions