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Should Others Take Note Of 'Shops Around Lenox' Redo?

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The strip-mall overhaul that became Shops Around Lenox was certainly a pithy move from a business standpoint, but should other retail centers around Atlanta take note, or was the Lenox venture simply a right-place, right-time scenario? Built in 1979, the 125,000 square-foot retail center next to Lenox Square underwent a $20 million redo during the Recession. The joint venture by Alex Brown Realty Inc. and Healey Weatherholtz Properties transformed the struggling, big-box anchored center into an open-air, boutique shopping district, landing an Urban Land Institute "Development of Excellence" award for creative reuse. Brands like Crate and Barrel, Paper Source, lululemon, Cosabella and Suit Supply flocked to the revamped shops. And then the redevelopers cashed in.

Shops Around Lenox recently sold for a reported $71.8 million — or an eye-popping $575 per square foot. "The (project) proved to be a terrific value-add opportunity," Quill O. Healey II, Co-CEO of Healey Weatherholtz, said in a press release this week. "Being adjacent to the Southeast's dominant enclosed mall and within walking distance of 10 million square feet of office space and seven premier hotels gave us a terrific canvas from which to work." Sure, the demographics were strong for the Lenox venture, but could other tired shopping centers succeed with a similar approach?

Healey Weatherholtz has plans to replicate their success on the other side of Buckhead with a project called "Howell Mill Shops." The company describes it as such: "Seven acres of street retail between Buckhead and the Westside, Howell Mill Shops is a collection of restaurants, shops and boutique services located at the corner of Howell Mill and Collier Roads." The residential component of the project, Crescent Howell Mill, is under construction.

Could the Shops Around Lenox approach work at, say, Murder Kroger? How about those shopping centers along the Briarcliff Corridor? Cheshire Bridge?

If Yelp reviews are any barometer, the open-air shopping center appears to have hit its stride in the customer service department as well:

"Last night, I enjoyed a great evening at Shops Around Lenox," one Yelper writes. "I love going to Shops because it allows you to get out of the hustle and bustle of being inside the mall and enjoy walking from shop to shop. Parking was easy and close to all the shops and restaurants I visited."

Adds another: "The new Shops Around Lenox has friendly Parking Ambassadors (in uniform under a clearly marked booth in the parking lot) in lieu of grumpy patrol — that means they don't like to boot! Instead, they'll give you a friendly reminder that parking is for Shops Around Lenox customers only, and for customers, they always have bottled water and umbrella assistance if it's a rainy day!"

· Things Are Looking Up, Literally, Around Lenox Square [Curbed Atlanta]
· Shops Around Lenox sells for stunning $575 a square foot [ABC; subscriber]
· More Shops Around Lenox coverage, discussion [Curbed Atlanta]

[Above renderings via Healey Weatherholtz Properties and The Preston Partnership.]

Shops Around Lenox

3400 Around Lenox Road NE, Atlanta, GA