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Health of Shops Buckhead Atlanta retail mecca called into question

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“People don’t come here,” shop owner tells website, but not all are worried

A glimpse of the Shops Buckhead Atlanta retail attractant around Christmastime in 2015, a year after its opening.
A glimpse of the retail attraction around Christmastime in 2015, a year after its opening.
Photos: Curbed Atlanta

Unless you’re waiting in line for a ShackBurger and hand-spun shake, it’s not likely you’ll encounter a crush of people at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta these days.

In fact, some proprietors are likening their high-end retail mecca to a finely landscaped ghost town. But others—both retailers and outside observers—don’t see a cause for alarm.

That’s according to a recent deep-dive on the shopping district’s health by Bisnow titled, “Is Luxury Losing Its Luster At The Shops Buckhead Atlanta?” It published on the heels of upscale Corso Coffee’s closure this month, which marked the latest business to bow out since shops started opening about three years ago.

The owner of women’s apparel boutique Hottie + Lord, Tutu Longe, had this interesting observation regarding Shops Buckhead Atlanta foot traffic: “People don't come here ... It’s not the store's fault. It’s not [developer] OliverMcMillan’s fault. Atlanta’s a tricky city.”

Retail casualties in the last couple of years have included Denim & Soul, Urban Wellness Spa, Thirteen Pies, American Food & Beverage, and now the coffee shop. But as OliverMcMillan reps have pointed out before, some of those closures didn’t necessarily reflect on the Buckhead district, as they were part of broader corporate decisions to scale back.

Curbed Atlanta

Lawsuits remain unsettled after OliverMcMillan claimed the majority of those departed tenants had failed to pay all monthly rent.

On that subject, Bisnow reports that rents among those former tenants had ranged between $50 and $90 per square foot, while the average for all properties across Atlanta is $12 per square foot. Another active Buckhead developer, Robin Loudermilk, told the website he’s grossing up to $50 per square foot from his retail tenants in the neighborhood.

Despite the closures, The Shops Buckhead Atlanta has managed to open and operate an extremely luxe roster that counts Jimmy Choo, Brunello Cucinelli, Dior, Etro, and Hermès, among others. And a different women’s apparel place, Joie, is doing quite well with walk-ins, its owner told Bisnow.

Ben Carter—the developer behind The Streets of Buckhead vision that cratered on this prime acreage during the recession—weighed in with an interesting point: Ultra-upscale retailers such as Hermès aren’t necessarily reliant on foot traffic as much as a core of wealthy, devoted customers. One shopper, Carter told Bisnow, “... can come in and ... make a day."

As for the coffee-shop space, it’ll soon be filled by a venture from the people behind Revelator Coffee Co. called “The Mourning Dove.”

The goal is to open that concept by October.

The Shops Buckhead Atlanta

3035 Peachtree Road NW suite B100, Atlanta, GA 30305 (404) 939-9275

Buckhead Atlanta

Peachtree Road at Buckhead Avenue, Atlanta, GA