North Point Mall redevelopment plan hits snag

Credit: Kimberly Smith/AJC 1994

Credit: Kimberly Smith/AJC 1994

Alpharetta mall, which opened in 1993, is one of many planning to remodel into mixed-use projects

Developers planning a massive redevelopment of Alpharetta’s North Point Mall had a long, at times tense, meeting with the Planning Commission Thursday night and did not get the go-ahead they were looking for.

Instead of sending a recommendation to City Council to approve the $500 million project, the commission deferred its decision to Aug. 4. The officials asked Trademark Property Company to return with changes to the residential component of the plan and to provide more specifics on the overall redevelopment of the 83-acre property.

“… Given the amount of growth we have had in a short period of time … the quality of (Alpharetta) developments are phenomenal,” commission member Karen Richard said. “…We’re all proud of it and want this to be at that same level. And unlike these other developments we’ve approved in the last seven years, yours is the most complex.”

North Point, which opened in 1993, is one of numerous malls locally and nationally planning to remodel their properties into mixed-use projects. North DeKalb Mall, Gwinnett Place, Stonecrest, Northlake and Cumberland Malls have plans for redevelopment.

Some of these communities could get future financial support from Congress for their mall projects. Last month, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee said she proposed legislation for mall redevelopment be included in a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations bill.

Weston Graves, vice president of portfolio development design and construction with Trademark, said the North Point project is “more aggressive than you typically see because we control more of the land than you typically see.”

New York Life owns most of North Point Mall and tapped Trademark to manage the property in January 2021 after former owner Brookfield Properties transferred the property title back the lender.

Trademark plans to demolish 464,000 square feet of the existing mall space and build nearly 316,000 square feet of new retail space, restaurant and creative office space inside and outside the mall. Plans include a separate 120,000-square-foot office building, an upscale full-service hotel and 18 acres of open space.

The project was also to include 900 rental units that would be built in three phases and 36 townhomes for sale.

Graves said the first phase of the project would include the building of 320 apartment units and a village of restaurant and retail space surrounding an event plaza that will include greenspace. He estimates the first phase of the redevelopment could be complete by Christmas 2025. The complete project could take up to 10 years and connect to the Alpha Loop, Big Creek Greenway, a new stormwater park on the property and MARTA.

The Planning Commission wants Trademark to return next month with a lower number of apartment units and more for sale homes as well as plans for a grocery store and 5,000 square feet of conference space in the hotel.

Each of those asks were not in line with how Trademark believes the firm can best draw residents and commercial tenants, according to Graves. The developer said the residents are expected to be young adults with more of a desire to rent than own. Grocery stores tend to want to see people in their dwellings before moving into the market and hotels want to see occupancy before drawing up plans for large conference space, he said.

But the commission members said they’ve already seen it differently with Avalon, where Whole Foods is located and Hotel Avalon has a spacious conference center.

The commission also said they want a better sense of what the emotional experience of the redeveloped mall campus would be for the visitor and an estimated timeline for the entire project.

“We’re deconstructing a significant part of an old 1980s mall and we’re trying to recreate a mixed-use environment that is unique and not technically competing with ...Avalon and City Center and others,” Richards said. “You’ve got a fine line to try to weave through there.”