This is a rendering of the redeveloped North Point Mall from Dwell Design Studio.
Photo: City of Alpharetta
Photo: City of Alpharetta

North Point Mall development with 300 apartments passes first hurdle

It’s no shovel in the ground, but the gigantic proposed development at North Point Mall has bounded over its first hurdle toward becoming a reality.

Alpharetta’s planning commission Thursday night unanimously voted to rezone 83 acres and allow a 24,000-square-foot freestanding development on the site of what used to be the Sears. Staff recommended the plan and said the traffic brought by the dense development would not be an issue.

“Having a mixed-use development like this ... it’s very well thought out and I hope that we’ll continue to make such improvements throughout the North Point area,” said planning commission chairman Francis T. Kung’u. 

America’s enclosed malls have suffered from the downfall of anchors like Sears, which declared bankruptcy in fall 2018.

This is a rendering of the redeveloped North Point Mall entrance from Dwell Design Studio.
Photo: City of Alpharetta

“It is not exactly a secret that malls are failing in this country,” Kathy Zickert, a partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, told the commission Thursday night. She was representing owner Brookfield Properties, which she said owns 140 malls.

Mall developers see the need to work around changing consumer tastes and online retailers like Amazon, so they have added experiences like food halls and high-end movie theaters.

And the proposed project at North Point touts almost all of the buzzwords in the world of mixed-use developments: pocket parks, splash pad, multi-use trail, bocce courts, “linear parks system,” Spanish steps, greenspace, the flashing HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon) crosswalks, rock climbing wall and pickleball.

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North Point, located near Ga. 400 in North Fulton, is situated among metro Atlanta’s most well-off areas, which means there is always competition trying to get that money.

The Avalon — with its open-air mix of retail, housing, office space, luxury movie theater — is the new development on the block and has siphoned away Apple and Pottery Barn along with other high-profile tenants from North Point.

Zickert said that the North Point development would have about triple the greenspace of Avalon.

The project’s effects would also touch inside the existing mall because, as Zickert said: “It looks tired, it’s dated and it needs an upgrade.”

She said that upgrade would include expanding the playground from the current play area that’s just under 2,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet.

Nick Nicolosi, general manager of the mall, told the Commission that the upgrade would also include a “very expensive” LED tree, which he compared to the one at Burning Man, an annual desert gathering known for its elaborate structures and drug use.

He said the tree at the mall will have 350,000 programmable points of light and he thinks it will “add some pizzazz” to the mall.

As far as the residential component: There would be 175 one-bedroom apartments between 700 and 900 square feet starting at $1,400 a month and 125 two-bedroom units between 1,050 and 1,250 square feet going for $1,900 a month.

Kung’u said the project would have “considerate regional impact” and he hopes “it sets the standard.”

The Alpharetta City Council is set to vote on the rezoning proposal and the requested adjustments at its Feb. 25 meeting.

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