Facelift coming for mall at Peachtree Center

The owners of downtown Atlanta’s Peachtree Center plan a substantial face lift — including new restaurants and retailers — for the mall beneath the hulking landmark office complex.

The planned multi-million dollar refresh comes as new apartments and hotels are under construction or on the drawing board nearby, and as the owners of some of Atlanta's original mixed-use developments, such as Colony Square in Midtown and downtown's CNN Center, also bring forward renovation plans.

Peachtree Center was started by noted Atlanta architect and developer John C. Portman Jr. in the 1960s and 1970s. Development continued for years and includes several office towers, hotels and the three-tiered shopping mall.

Though the planned updates to Peachtree Center are not likely to be as expansive as those at Colony Square and CNN Center, they will be designed to draw new tenants and bring the complex “into the 21st Century compared to where it is today,” said Amy Fingerhut, vice president of retail services for leasing agent CBRE.

Peachtree Center was built as a sort of fortress, focused inward with a network of sky bridges that allowed workers to avoid the streets below. Urban designs now focus on active street life.

The renovations won’t change the basic design, but part of the overhaul will be to put restaurants and shops in Peachtree Center’s outdoor plaza to make the complex more inviting to the street.

Fingerhut said planning will take about a year to 18 months. Fingerhut and her team recently shopped the refresh to brokers at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

The team would like to add food and beverage concepts with entertainment – perhaps live music or concepts that cater to corporate events – to inject new life after 5 p.m., she said.

The renovation will attempt to appeal to customers not only from the office towers above, but also downtown residents and tourists.

“It’s not just a five-day destination during lunch, we want to make it a seven-day destination all day long,” she said.

Fingerhut said downtown is becoming more than just an office center, with new apartments underway and the future redevelopment pending at Underground Atlanta and the city’s civic center.

Paces Properties recently converted a former office tower at 250 Piedmont Avenue nearby into The Office apartments, and Post Properties recently started its Post Centennial Park that will add hundreds of new downtown residences. Portman and its investors recently purchased and renovated 230 Peachtree Street, the first tower he built in the Peachtree Center complex, converting much of the building into a new Hotel Indigo and high-end restaurant.

Marti Blackstock, an executive with Miami-based Banyan Street Capital, which owns Peachtree Center, said in a news release, “Downtown Atlanta is teeming with office workers and new residents, causing an enormous demand for retail” in the city’s core.