Above: renderings of North Point Mall renovations
Time was, indoor shopping malls were the hot hangouts. Where else could you get a makeover, put in a game of Galaga, and nab the latest cassette tape of your favorite band?
Gulp. Showing our age?
Well, many shopping malls across the country are, too. In a time when online sales prevail, successful IRL shopping venues need to be about a lot more than retail. These days, we want to stroll from our homes to the pharmacy, the park, and the pizzeria, and for all of it to feel like part of the same community. (Interestingly enough, community-focused development was what the father of the shopping mall, Victor Gruen, had in mind when he envisioned malls way back in the day.)
Here’s a look at six metro Atlanta shopping malls (and similar large developments) that are being reinvented for the mixed-use age.
North Point Mall
The words “shopping mall” don’t tend to conjure up images of parkland and outdoor community gathering space, but that’s the vision behind the planned redevelopment of North Point Mall in Alpharetta.
The new iteration will swap out a former Sears building for apartments, new retail and restaurants, while a lot of old parking lot space will become greenspace, bike trails, and a playground. The plan is part of Alpharetta’s North Point Livable Centers Initiative (LCI), a land use and transportation plan funded by a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Timeframe: Not announced
Scroll through below to see North Point Mall back in the day, and renderings of its planned future.
City steps up effort to revitalize North Point (Alpharetta-Roswell Herald)
Smyrna’s Belmont Hills Shopping Center opened in 1954 with great fanfare that included an appearance by Miss America. But in 1995, the badly aging shopping center was shuttered.
Two decades later, Halpern Enterprises transformed the former strip shopping center into a walkable mixed-use development, with single-family homes, apartments, retail, offices, and even a public elementary school. The surrounding network of streets, trails and sidewalks connects the development to nearby Smyrna Market Village, the Chattahoochee River, and Kennesaw Mountain.
The Shops at Belmont
Smyrna’s Belmont development nearing completion (Marietta Daily Journal)
When it comes to mixed-use, Colony Square is kind of the O.G. of the Southeast. Long before anyone ever uttered the phrase “live, work, and play,” its three modernist Midtown skyscrapers housed offices, hotel, and exercise space connected by an underground shopping center.
Its new iteration will open the space up to Peachtree Street, with sweeping changes including “curated entertainment, retail and fitness concepts, chef-driven restaurants and an experience-driven food hall known as Main & Main,” according to the Colony Square website. Owner North American Properties says the redevelopment is inspired by the street-life of the world’s great public squares.
Timeframe: First phase: Holiday season, 2019
More on the redevelopment
Midtown’s Colony Square redo has landed Georgia’s first iPic Theater -Curbed Atlanta
Seeking some mouth-watering pollo a la parrilla or a gown for your daughter’s quinceañera? Look no further than Brookhaven’s Plaza Fiesta. The former Buford-Clairmont Mall is much more than a shopping center. Catering to north Georgia’s Hispanic and Latino population, it functions as a town square (sensing a theme?). You’ll find Spanish-speaking pediatricians, chiropractors, dance lessons, and insurance companies here, as well as community events on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, when families come to spend the afternoons.
More on Plaza Fiesta
The Mall of the Future…on Buford Highway? -WABE
It was the mid-1970s when the Mall at Peachtree Center first opened — part of architect John Portman’s grand, interior-focused vision for his landmark development’s collection of towers and hotels. Peachtree Center even featuring a series of pedestrian bridges so that people could avoid the sidewalks outside. (Note: For a fantastic indoor sight-seeing walk, stroll from building to building using these bridges.)
What a difference a few decades make.
Today, we prize open connection between indoors and out, and the Mall at Peachtree Center is getting a face-lift. Its new name? The Hub. The overhaul will convert its courtyard into, yes, a new town square for this bustling workday neighborhood, with design elements such as a glass-enclosed staircase connecting Peachtree Street to the restaurants and shops below—as well as a reflecting pool and new artwork. The Hub will also feature new eateries and shops.
Timeframe: Spring 2019
More on this project, including a frame-by-frame view of progress, here.
Peachtree Center’s development through the years
Facelift coming for mall at Peachtree Center -Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett Place Mall
Perhaps no development traces the shopping mall’s rise and fall better than Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth. Opening in 1984, it became a regional shopping destination before slowly fading as malls fell out of favor.
Much of the mall is closed, but that may soon be changing: Luxury apartment management and development company Northwood Ravin has purchased the old Sears anchor store. In recent months, the shopping center has been the site of filming by the 1980s-era period show Stranger Things. When we tune in next season, it’ll be nice to get a final glimpse of what used to be.
No timeframe or renderings yet released.
In the meantime, take a stroll through Stranger Things’ Starcourt Mall, shot at Gwinnett Place Mall.
Gwinnett Place: The Long, Slow Death of a Suburban Mall -Curbed Atlanta
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.