In its heyday, Shannon Mall boasted up to 95 major retailers and specialty shops, ample parking and consumer traffic that not only kept the mall thriving but other businesses that popped up around the south Fulton County development.
The only recent activity at the Union City property, however, has been in its parking lot with the assemblage of scores of utility crews that helped Georgia Power restore electricity to thousands homes and businesses idled by an ice storm earlier this month.
The mall itself, most recently known as Union Station Mall, has been closed since November 2010, succumbing to a harsh economy and competition from newer malls and shopping complexes in Fayetteville and Newnan.
Rooker, an Atlanta-based industrial developer, hopes to revive the once-bustling area by marketing newly developed office space to a variety of industries.
Chief Executive Officer John Rooker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution his company plans to tear down the mall and redevelop it initially as a business park with the vision of possible retail, hotel and residential space down the road.
Rooker has purchased the 90-acre property and 10 acres of outparcels from several owners, including Lee Group USA, MB-REO Retail MB-REO Land and Sears, Roebuck and Co. Inc., one of the mall’s former anchors.
The developer will initially market 1.2 million square feet of space to consumer products, e-commerce, technology and other businesses.
But don’t expect to see wrecking balls anytime soon.
“We really don’t have any plans to demo in the next couple of months,” Rooker said. “We’re working on some conceptuals (designs) and we are going to sit down with the mayor and city and work as a team on those conceptuals. We know that we do want to have an industrial piece to it, but there are also some outparcels that can accommodate retail and potentially a hotel, as well as the possibility of residential.”
Rooker added that the mall itself is “in pretty bad shape” and there are no current plans to use any of the existing property going forward.
The mall was built in 1980, but by 2011 it was in receivership. It was once owned by Lee Najjar, better known as Kim Zolciak’s benefactor “Big Poppa” on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” hit TV series.
The Shannon Mall area’s current town center mixed use (TCMU) zoning designation permits everything from single- and multi-family residences to retail, office, colleges, hotels and amusement facilities.
Rooker will receive state tax incentives for the jobs created and other incentives because the location is in the Union City Tax Allocation District.
Union City Mayor Vince Williams said the Shannon Mall project will spur more development in the area.
“We’ve got to be innovative. We’ve got to be futuristic,” Williams said. “The whole [effort] is to bring economic development that is going to meet the needs of not only Union City residents but whole metro Atlanta area.”
Rooker did not disclosed what it paid for the mall and surrounding property and said it has no figure on how much it will cost to redevelop. “We’ll be doing the construction, unless we sell off a piece (of the property) to a hotel developer,” he said.
Rooker also did not say how many jobs the project will create. “We are trying to create an environment where companies are going to come in an employ hundreds if not thousands of employees.”
While no construction timetable has been established, Rooker said the project will begin this year.
Union City has attracted several major employers in recent years. Dendreon opened a $70 million biotechnology production facility and Kraft Foods opened a $60 million distribution center. Newell Rubbermaid also has a plant in the area.
Rooker’s projects include the 250-acre Gwinnett Progress Center business park, and the 320-acre Riverside West Business Park in Douglasville.