New concepts using North Fulton to dip toe in water

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The New Year is off to a great start in North Fulton for attracting pilot concepts for retailers. At least three different national companies have chosen North Fulton to either test new pilot concepts or expand their operations into the southeastern U.S.

Last fall, the Krystal Co., famous for its little square hamburgers, opened its first K Café on Windward Parkway. K Café is a “fast-casual” concept restaurant that serves upscale salads and sandwiches, similar to Panera Bread and Atlanta Bread Co.

Moving a little further south, Denver-based Solera Salon will be opening a new location on Mansell Road just west of Ga. 400 this summer. The new 18,000-square-foot salon and spa will employ about 80 hair stylists and other personal care professionals. It will be the first Solera Salon outside of Colorado.

But the biggest news of all broke recently when Von Maur, a high-end Midwest department store chain, announced that it would occupy the former Belk anchor department store space in North Point Mall that’s been vacant since 2009.

This will be the first Von Maur store outside of the Midwest, where there are 25 locations in eight states. The old Belk space will be expanded to 140,000 square feet and the new store, which is scheduled to open this fall, will create 230 jobs.

“There’s a big potential for growth here in the Southeast, particularly in the North Fulton area,” said Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas in a recent interview on PBS. “I just think they saw that growth and decided to come here.”

“While expanding into the Southeast is a new venture for us, we know we'll be right at home in Alpharetta,” says Von Maur President Jim von Maur. “The area offers the benefits of a large metropolitan area with the charm and warmth of a small town. We believe the Alpharetta customers will appreciate our beautiful atmosphere, unique selection and personalized service.”

There are lots of reasons why these large national corporations chose North Fulton for their expansions. Mike Kleinberg, Salon Solera’s CFO, says the city of Alpharetta was very easy to work with. “They were quick to approve a number of our development plans and to sort them out as things unfolded. Everything moved very smoothly.”

“The household income numbers are tremendous, and the proximity to Buckhead and other affluent communities is very appealing,” adds Kleinberg. “This is a logical expansion location for us, and given the number of inquiries we’ve had since the signs went up, I think we’ll be proven right.”

With some of the highest average household incomes in the country, great schools and tremendous growth opportunity, new retailers are finding it hard to resist North Fulton as a place to “dip a toe in the water.”

Brian Patton, CCIM is a real estate broker, author and instructor. He can be reached at 770-634-4848 or via his website, www.CommercialPropertyGuy.com.