ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A major step in revitalizing North Point Mall won City Council approval Feb. 25, when officials signed off on a plan that will transform the abandoned Sears site into a mixed-use development.
Brookfield Properties wants to transform the vacant building and parking lot area into a modern complex that would include new, freestanding retail and restaurants, greenspace and 300 apartments. The project would also adjust North Point Circle, which surrounds the property, to accommodate a multi-use trail system for pedestrians and cyclists with tie-ins to nearby trails and the Big Creek Greenway.
The vote was 6-1, with Councilman Ben Burnett voting in opposition. Burnett did not speak on the subject.
Everyone else was less shy.
Councilman Dan Merkel called the decision a “game changer” for North Point and the city. He said he thinks the project will kick start a wave of property revitalization in the area.
Indeed, several nearby mall tenants praised the plan, saying the energy it will create will radiate outward.
Sheila Wilson, store manager for North Point Macy’s, told council members that Brookfield’s initiative has kindled a spirit of investment at her business.
“This allows the opportunity for Macy’s to invest again in this location,” she said. “As you know, our company invests in mall locations that are being invested in. And, Macy’s believes in this location so much that we’re investing ahead of the game.”
Wilson said Macy’s plans to open a “Backstage” store within its current location this April. Plans are also underway to make improvements to the property, she said.
“To be able to live and work and play in the same community will mean so much to our colleagues and our store,” she said. “The ability for us to hire locally will improve greatly.”
Commercial interests at North Point have taken a hit in recent years with the closures of giant retailers Sears and Toys R Us. Strip malls in the area are also seeing strain, according to a study by Kimley Horn consultants, which assisted the city in drawing up a Livable Centers Initiative plan in 2018.
Kathryn Zickert, attorney for Brookfield, said that long before Avalon and City Center, North Point Mall was the economic driver for the city. Over its 26 years of operation, the mall has accounted for tens of millions of dollars in taxes and remains the city’s biggest property tax component, she said.
Brookfield’s letter of intent states that the luxury apartments will occupy three 4-story buildings and will include a swimming pool, courtyards, fitness center, business center, dog wash, clubroom, garages, leasing office and pet park.
In addition to the multi-use trail, outdoor amenities include a rock climbing wall, Spanish Steps, athletic fields, parks, overlooks, playground, event lawn/space, bocce garden and splash pad.
Mayor Jim Gilvin said the project is just what North Point needs. He said he was on the City Council when Avalon was cleared for construction more than six years ago, and everyone was concerned with the effect it would have on North Point.
[We] knew that we were going to have to be proactive in watching that corridor,” Gilvin said, adding that the city’s planning staff has been working for years to come up with a plan tailored for the area.
“Our staff has worked… to come up with a plan that would give us something in that area that was going to convert the North Point corridor into something special, because we don’t just want another development in Alpharetta,” he said. “We consider this a community that deserves better.”