Alpharetta mall redevelopment to expand with new management

After economic setbacks brought by the coronavirus pandemic, Alpharetta officials say North Point Mall redevelopment is back on track with a new company managing a more expansive project.

Original plans for North Point Mall redevelopment will likely be scrapped for a broader, open-air mixed-use concept and an increased investment by Trademark Property Management. The company took over management of the mall during the first week of January after former owner Brookfield Properties transferred the property title back to lender New York Life, Trademark President Tommy Miller said.

Miller said the enclosed indoor mall concept is outdated. When completed, Trademark’s proposed project of office, residential, retail, restaurant and open spaces will fit with new lifestyles brought by the pandemic. Office buildings will be constructed with spacing in mind at four to six stories tall and a luxury hotel is also being considered, he said.

Alpharetta officials said they envision walkability, green space and Alpha Loop trail connections in a revamped North Point neighborhood, which includes the area of Ga. 400 at Mansell and Haynes Bridge Roads and their North Point Parkway connection.

Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said Trademark’s plans, when completed, will compliment Avalon and Alpharetta’s City Center, and Alpha Loop linear park which is designed to connect the two destinations to Northwinds office park in the North Point neighborhood.

“We know Alpharetta is a place where people want to be,” Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said. “That (Trademark) project is exactly the kind of environment we want to be in.”

Credit: News Chopper 2 / WSB-TV

Credit: News Chopper 2 / WSB-TV

Brookfield had planned to transform the former Sears space at the mall into apartments, retail and park space. Trademark plans to redevelop the entire mall and property rather than only one part of it, Miller said.

Brookfield was scheduled to break ground on the Sears space in late 2019 or early 2020 but was unable to move ahead because of financial issues and the outbreak of coronavirus across the U.S.

Last October, Alpharetta agreed to give Brookfield more time to get started. The real estate company agreed to zoning conditions that required the business to obtain a permit for demolition of the Sears space or to build restaurant, retail, park space or something else by December 31, 2022. They agreed to start building apartments by December 31, 2028.

Cook said the same zoning conditions are currently in place for Trademark.

That could change, however, as the Fort Worth, Texas-based company develops and presents a more comprehensive plan for the mall site, Miller said.

“Hopefully the dates work but we want to take a fresh post-COVID approach for the benefit of everybody and give (Alpharetta) a new redevelopment plan,” Miller said.

In addition to those plans, Alpharetta Economic Development Director Kathi Cook said there’s already a $100 million investment by businesses and projects coming into the North Point area.

Among them is 360 Tech Village where a 110,000 square-foot office building is currently under construction for the planned mixed-use development at Haynes Bridge Road and Ga. 400, Cook said. Other committed projects include Brixmor Property Group’s Studio Movie Grill and Ecco Park townhomes by The Providence Group.

In February, Alpharetta will put out a request for proposals for new designs of a more attractive, walkable North Point Parkway between Haynes Bridge and Mansell Roads, Cook said. The city was awarded $1.6 million from the Atlanta Regional Commission for designs and will add $400,000 to the project.

The city also wants to make corridors between and around Haynes Bridge and Mansell Roads an “opportunity zone,” a tool that “allows people to invest in distressed areas,” according to the IRS. These zones are usually reserved for low income areas. Matthew Thomas, Alpharetta economic development manager, said the area is becoming economically distressed because of the number of closed businesses. The city has an existing opportunity zone at Windward and Westside Parkways that expires in 2022, Thomas added.

In its redevelopment plan, Alpharetta cites the closing of 20 retail and restaurant businesses in the mall and along the street corridor due to the pandemic or other economic reasons. Some of those closed establishments have brought an appearance of blight to the area, Thomas said.

Atlantic Seafood Company, Toys R Us, Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse, Regions Bank, Thomasville Furniture are some of the businesses that have closed.

City Council approved a North Point Redevelopment Plan in December in order to apply for the state designation. If approved, businesses with at least two to 10 employees could receive a $3,500 tax credit for each person.

“The hope is it would encourage investment, job creation and economic growth,” Thomas said.

The revitalized North Point area will be branded as an eco-district, Cook said, with sustainable plants, native grasses, optimizing existing stormwater and some eclectic building structures.

“It creates a community that people can identify with,” Cook said. “Even the crosswalks will have green logos.”