CUSTARD-CRAVING ATLANTANS, rejoice. Your Shake Shack fix no longer requires a trip to New York. Just shimmy over to Buckhead, order your black-and-white malted, and browse the aisles at, say, Christian Louboutin or, perhaps, Jimmy Choo.
Buckhead Atlanta — the long-anticipated, high-end, live-work-play development — is open for business. With the look and feel of L.A.’s Rodeo Drive, the dining, entertainment, shopping, office and residential juggernaut is gunning to become Atlanta’s reigning “must-see” and “must-be-seen-at” destination.
IT SPANS SIX CITY BLOCKS at Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads, an intersection some might remember as THE place to party in Buckhead. That changed eight years ago when the land was cleared, and large cranes moved in to begin the project originally known as The Streets of Buckhead. When the recession hit, construction stopped. In 2011, OliverMcMillan bought the property changing its name to Buckhead Atlanta. The commercial real estate company has developed similar projects in San Diego, Houston and Honolulu.
Clearly, the true stars of this show are the shopping and dining. With up to 60 anticipated retailers — many new to Atlanta — Buckhead Atlanta is positioning itself to become the new epicenter of a shopping mecca already well known for must-have labels. (Move over, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza.)
“Atlanta is the fashion icon hub of the Southeast,” says OliverMcMillan spokesman Rocell Viniard. “So, it was really important to bring new concepts. There’s very little duplication in the retail or restaurant mix.”
OK, but let’s talk shopping!
AKRIS, BELLA BAG, Christian Louboutin, diptyque, Helmut Lang, Jimmy Choo, Theory and Tod’s are among the 23 retailers that have signed on to open locations. Their customers will be able to taste everything from burgers to sushi to pasta. American Cut, Doraku Sushi, Gypsy Kitchen, Le Bilboquet, the Shake Shack, Georgetown Cupcake and Corso Coffee are among the 13 confirmed restaurants scheduled to debut through the end of 2015.
Shops and restaurants will open as they’re completed, giving people a new choice each week. The development also will have 370 apartment homes for rent, ranging from 692-sq.-ft. studios to 1,997-sq.-ft. penthouses with three bedrooms. Residents are expected to begin moving in in November.
“Buckhead Atlanta was designed to naturally integrate into the existing structure of the city, which is not typical with this type of project,” Viniard says. “We wanted it to feel like it has always been a part of the neighborhood.”
THE VISION TO BLEND Buckhead Atlanta into the city’s fabric begins with a welcoming and visually impressive exterior that can be seen by anyone driving by. The tree-lined streets look as if they’ve been there for decades. A mature tree canopy of four 35-foot-tall oaks, plus 130 additional trees, are meant to provide shade in spring and summer and a color kaleidoscope in the fall.
Two underground decks will offer free parking by the end of October. Until then, complimentary valet parking is available.
Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition, sees the shopping district as a new way to attract people to his favorite neighborhood and a benchmark for other retailers. “Competition begets competition,” he says. “We’ve had the title ‘Shopping Mecca of the South,’ and Buckhead Atlanta expands on that.”
Game on, Rodeo Drive.