Braves project adds to entertainment lineup

The Atlanta Braves are enlisting some star power to launch the entertainment district next to SunTrust Park.

The Braves and partner Fuqua Development on Thursday announced several new signed tenants at The Battery Atlanta, including burger concept Wahlburgers by chef Paul Wahlberg and his actor brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg.

The opening of the restaurant outside the Braves’ new Cobb County ballpark is expected to be featured prominently in “Wahlburgers,” the brothers’ A&E reality television show about the business, Mark Wahlberg told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We don’t only want to promote the restaurant in Atlanta, but the whole development in full, the new park, the Braves and everybody else,” Wahlberg said of the show.

A half-dozen metro Atlanta locations are in the pipeline, Wahlberg said. The company has a franchise operator looking to expand the brand in the South, but Wahlberg said he would have an ownership stake in each, including the location next to SunTrust Park.

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Derek Schiller, the Braves president of business, said the team zeroed in on Wahlburgers because of its menu and operating chops. The potential showcase role on television only came up late in lease discussions, he said.

Wahlberg said the show has been renewed by A&E for three seasons.

Another big operator, national restaurant, retail, casino and entertainment venue developer Cordish Cos., plans a trio of concepts including a Professional Bull Riders Association Bar & Grill, featuring a mechanical bull.

Cordish developed entertainment districts at stadiums in Philadelphia and St. Louis. The other Cordish concepts will be a two-level Sports & Social Club and a to-be-announced restaurant by a celebrity chef.

“When we first set out on this project, one of the very first things we said was we were creating a destination,” said Braves President of Business Derek Schiller. To be a regional and Southeastern player, Schiller said “the components need to have drawing power, and the ones we’ve already released are proof positive we are achieving that goal.”

Fuqua Development Principal Jeff Fuqua said the majority of the retail space is now leased. The other tenants announced Friday are:

  • Dress Up, a women’s fashion boutique
  • Retro bowling and high-end food and drink concept Kings Bowl, which caters to corporate events and special occasions and will offer 12 to 16 lanes.
  • Mountain High Outfitters, a speciality outdoors merchant
  • A Harley-Davidson apparel store, the first in metro Atlanta
  • Sugarboo, a gift boutique
  • Goldbergs Bagel Co. & Deli.

 

Fuqua Development will be pitching the project next week at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas, the biggest week in retail real estate. Fuqua said the project has “hit critical mass,” where the announced tenants will draw others. He said he expects the project will be effectively leased up by year’s end.

The Braves plan to open the ballpark and the bulk of The Battery’s first phase in time for Opening Day 2017.

The more than $400 million Battery district is crucial to the Braves’ plans to create a mini-city that draws crowds year-round, not only on game days.

Cobb County leaders approved about $368 million in taxpayer money for the $622 million stadium in hopes that being the home of a big-league team would burnish the county’s image and spur development. The county is also banking on big returns in sales and property taxes from the privately owned and financed mixed-use complex.

The Braves previously announced several restaurants, as well as the Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre concert venue, an Omni hotel and an office tower for Comcast that will house about 1,000 tech workers. About 550 residences are also planned.

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