By Monetha Cobb, Managing Director of Franklin Street and CREW Board Member
It’s no secret that mixed-use developments are incorporating an increasing amount of entertainment uses and experiences. Gone are the days of retail-only destinations. How consumers want to spend their free time has changed; shopping isn’t considered an experience anymore. Instead, people want to spend quality time with their family and friends, and crave new experiences to share together. People are seeking out activities, not just things to buy or places to eat. To accommodate this growing desire, developers have adapted and are creating properties that are entertainment and experience driven, with shopping as a secondary piece.
The South has an abundance of developments popping up, possibly more than anywhere else in the country, thanks to its climate and land availability. The milder climate enables developers to incorporate more outdoor elements, like amphitheaters and TopGolf, as well as experiences, like free yoga or movies being displayed in gathering spaces. Additionally, these developments tend to require a lot of room, something that a big city like Boston or Los Angeles doesn’t have, or if they do have land, it’s usually not the property’s highest and best use.
Below is a look at three projects in Atlanta that are incorporating these elements in interesting and unique ways:
Atlantic Station is considered the first example of experiential retail in the Southeast. In 2010, North American Properties purchased the ailing property (which sold to Hines in 2015) and added in a variety of entertainment uses and experiences. Now, Atlantic Station is home to BODIES…The Exhibition, the BB&T Atlanta Open and Cirque du Soleil, as well as weekly events in the property’s Central Park, including Improv in the Park, and Movies in the Park.
The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park
The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park, currently under construction, will be Atlanta’s first mixed-use development centered around a major league sporting arena. While the Braves will bring customers to the property during their 81 home games, Fuqua Development had to figure out how to bring people to the property 365 days a year. With less than a year until completion, The Roxy Theatre, King’s Bowling and LiveNation Amphitheater are secured for the 74-acre project.
The difficulty with any development of this nature is trying to incorporate traditional retail in a place that’s heavily entertainment based, and creating a reason for the local community to come to the project, even on game days. The development is slated to include 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
With an increasing number of people moving in-town, Paces Properties is transforming former industrial sites along Memorial Drive to create a true community. The company is creating a curated mix of specialty shopping, dining and entertainment venues connected by green space, which will include a 24/7 gathering place for events, live music and more. Entertainment elements include Atlanta’s well-known Variety Playhouse, a recording studio and bowling. Paces Properties is creating a true place along a corridor in Atlanta that’s been grossly underserved for both retail and entertainment.
Monetha Cobb, Managing Director for Franklin Street Real Estate Services, specializes in retail tenant services throughout the Southeast. As the frontrunner for Franklin Street’s Retail Tenant Services Group, she has led the team to more than $170 million in closed lease deals since 2010. She has more than 15 years of experience in tenant representation for nationally-recognized retailers, focusing on leasing and land brokerage. Full bio is available here.
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