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This Week on The Street

by Harold Shumacher

This Week on The Street    December 1, 2011

(A more or less regular compilation of news, factoids and observations.)

Is Retail Back?                                                

“It’s better than it was.”  “ I saw some new developments that could actually happen.”  “I’m still here and think I’m busy so things must have gotten better.”  Those were some of the comments overheard at the recently completed Southeast Ideas Exchange, also known as the Atlanta ICSC, and hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers Nov. 14-16, 2011.

You couldn’t call the Cobb Galleria crowded but with over 2,500 in attendance it’s beginning to feel like the old days. Major developers and landlords had booths and conference rooms showing their current and in some cases planned new developments. Tenants could be found throughout the hall as well in the retailer bullpen or individual booths.  While the reality is that many of the projects discussed won’t be open to the public until late 2012, or into 2013 this is the first time in at least two years there are a number of legitimate projects under discussion.

One trend we’re continuing to hear about  is the stated desire to have more local tenants in such projects as Avalon, the new name for Prospect Park in Alpharetta, Atlantic Station, Ponce City Market,  the re-do of City Hall East on Ponce de Leon   and Buckhead Atlana (the new moniker for The Streets of Buckhead.) As these projects evolve it will be interesting to note if they truly can attract unique one of a kind  locals or will be forced to take regional and national prospects with better credit..

Blue Ridge on the Bubble

What impact can the passage of beer and wine service have on a community? If you ask the merchants and restaurant owners in Blue Ridge Georgia, a quaint tourist spot about 100 miles north and east of Atlanta they’ll tell you significant. In the past few years the number of upscale restaurants, retail shops and arts and craft galleries have increased significantly. Most of the merchants are not only seeing an increase in volume but a better class of buyer, willing to spend more time and money during their stay.

With the addition of liquor by the drink at the New Year there’s optimism the trend will continue. Among the spots sampled during a recent holiday weekend were Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille, featuring a straight forward American style menu; Toccoa Riverside Restaurant,  listing  locally raised trout prepared  17 different ways as their specialty; Victoria House,   with  a combo southern and New Orleans menu and Harvest on Main, widely acclaimed as the best restaurant in the city with am emphasis on fresh  farm to table ingredients and locally raised or grown meat and fish.

Another not to be missed stop is  Mercier Apple Orchard and Gift Emporium. The almost 70 year old business boasts over 100,000 trees on 200 pristine acres. The sprawling store is an apple lover’s delight with every conceivable apple product possible, a large bakery –try the fried fruit pies- and an above average deli.

The holiday period is traditionally a slow period for new openings (many operators opting to wait until after the New Year.) Among the newcomers to keep an eye on are Texas-based Mi Cocina, coming to Midtown next year; Bistro 980, also in Midtown and The Frenzied Italian, Peachtree Corners.

Recent transactions for The Shumacher Group Inc. include

Lease of Restaurant space at 5300 Lofts, Chamblee to Steam Koffee

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