Business Boom

John McHenryTucker is undoubtedly one of the fastest-rising business destinations in the Metro Atlanta area.  Each month, the 'Business Boom' by our Community & Economic Development Director John McHenry, will seek to show different examples of how Tucker’s business scene is flourishing.

In 1971, Northlake Mall opened with much fanfare with then Governor Jimmy Carter in attendance. With a million square feet of retail space, it was the first three-anchor mall – then Sears, Davison’s and J.C. Penney – in DeKalb County with fountains, skylights, a food court and 100,000 visitors on opening day. Over time the retail landscape dramatically shifted with more competition from newer regional malls and the advent of online shopping; all leading to a loss in national tenants and disinvestment in the property.

Fortunately, in 2016 an innovative team out of Dallas, Texas bought the struggling property with a vision of retrofitting the half-empty space into a dynamic, mixed-use development. ATR Corinth Partners, led by Tony Ruggeri and Frank Mihalopoulos, specializes in turning underutilized malls into dynamic centers and has a successful track record of reimagining malls throughout the country. By changing the tenant mix and adding updated amenities, they bring jobs, investment and a new sense of community to their redevelopment projects.

In June of this year, the Northlake Mall was annexed into the City of Tucker, an area that was a part of Tucker’s original cityhood map. This was recently followed by the exciting news that Emory Healthcare will be the newest Northlake anchor tenant, leasing 224,000 square feet of space. Emory Healthcare’s initial plans include corporate administrative services occupying the former Sears building with an option for more space in the future.

“Northlake gives us the opportunity to centralize corporate support services in one location for more than 1,600 employees while providing the additional benefit of direct access to on-site amenities like restaurants and retail,” said Mike Mason, Emory Healthcare Vice President of Operations.

This approach of introducing a premier office tenant first has worked successfully at ATR Corinth’s other projects. As Tony Ruggeri explained, “Emory’s presence will add more daytime traffic to an already vibrant residential community surrounding the project. It’s a winning formula to support further retail and restaurant development.”

Ruggeri and Mihalopoulos shared that Northlake Mall was a great redevelopment opportunity with its excellent access to the Perimeter, a strong residential market and engaged neighboring community groups.

“Our lease with Emory signifies the start of reimagining the former mall as ‘Northlake,’ a dynamic mixed-use development incorporating office, medical, retail and restaurants,” Mihalopoulos said. “We have just begun what will be a project that reconnects the community with Northlake as a place to spend time with family and friends.”

For Matthew Lee, Executive Director of the Tucker-Northlake CID, this is the culmination of many years of hard work by both the developers and community leaders.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Tony and Frank, not only for their expertise and vision, but in how they’ve worked diligently with the City of Tucker, DeKalb County, and the business community in developing winning solutions for their property and the district,” Lee said. “With an additional hotel, apartments, remodeled class A office space, and retail development underway at other locations along Northlake Parkway, it should be clear to everyone that the Northlake renaissance has officially begun.”

While additional leases are not being announced at this time, Northlake will see more office space, new retail and a mix of sit-down, fast casual, and quick-service restaurant concepts. Construction of the retail portion of the project is slated to begin in early 2020. JCPenney and Macy’s will remain as anchor tenants and will be open during construction.

“I’m so proud of this community and how we partner to spur positive change,” said Tucker Mayor Frank Auman. “The redevelopment of Northlake is just one more example of the success story that is our city.”

It promises to be a long process, but a dynamic one that will transform the Northlake area of Tucker into one of the most exciting redeveloped areas in metro Atlanta. I will keep you updated on all the exciting progress in this space, but keep an eye out as you pass Northlake over the coming months; you’ll see history made right before your eyes.

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