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Changes to The Forum and Surrounding Area Are Coming



The Forum at Peachtree Corners
The Forum as imagined by North American Properties (The Forum renderings courtesy of North American Properties)

The changes coming to The Forum at Peachtree Parkway are perhaps the biggest thing happening in Peachtree Corners in a long time. So, it was probably no surprise that about 250-plus residents and stakeholders turned out for an information session on May 18 hosted by United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA).

Tim Perry, managing partner of North American Properties (NAP) Atlanta location, presented the plans the developer has for the property.

For those who didn’t know his background, Perry explained that he’s a neighbor, living just five miles from Peachtree Corners. “[The Forum] has been on my morning commute for years. I’ve driven by it, sort of coveted it a little bit and thought… it has deteriorated so much over the past few years,” he told the audience.

Opportunity for improvement

Perry explained that he saw The Forum as a great opportunity to bring about a success similar to what NAP has done in other areas. He cited a property called Birkdale in the Charlotte, N.C. area, near Lake Norman, that’s like The Forum and The Avenue in East Cobb. It’s not as large but was developed with a similar strategy. Of course, NAP’s most successful local development, Avalon, is the measure for what mixed-use buildouts should be.

“We focus on places, not spaces. I’m sure all of you recognize this from Avalon. It’s not about the physical buildings,” Perry said. “It needs to be expressed with the brands, but it’s about the space between the buildings.”

While he lamented that a great property like The Forum had gone downhill, Perry was optimistic that it hadn’t hit rock bottom. “There’s a certain point [where these properties] can’t necessarily be revived. When you start getting into the [resale stores]… that tenant profile, it chases the rest of [the higher end tenants] out,” Perry said. “You really have to be able to change that perception and right that ship. And what that means is you have to be able to drive sales. This is all about driving sales.

“[The property] has been a victim of this really bad institutional ownership that… doesn’t necessarily invest on the operating expense side the way that you have to to keep these [types of investments] running,” he added.

Before looking at purchasing the property, Perry said NAP contacted the previous owner about investing in the location and helping to bring it back to its former luster, or even go one better and elevate its profile. In the mindset that a rising tide raises all ships, he reasoned that a corridor of luxury development would be good for everyone — not just The Forum.

“I started calling the owner,” he said. “[I’d say] ‘Hey, come on, let us be an investor. Let’s put some money in and stick with you and your partner in this.’”

Perry presented some plans. “We want to define downtown Peachtree Corners as this amazing community amenity that, again raises all tides,” Perry said. “And like a house, people don’t move to buy houses just for the bedrooms. They buy a house for the great kitchens where they spend time cooking, and dining rooms where they hang out for board games, and living rooms where they socialize with family and friends. And what great downtowns are, they are great social places where people convene and play boardgames in the plaza and spend time at concerts and have great meal options where people kind of get together.”

NAP plans to convert the empty Kinnucan’s location into a Food Hall with multiple food stalls (think a mini–Ponce City Market). Diners could sit indoors or at a patio outside the Food Hall or in the new North Court.
Plus, an outdoor seating area with small retail buildings (renderings courtesy of NAP)

Setting the record straight

In the end, the partnership didn’t materialize, and NAP purchased The Forum in March. “We will increase the operating expenses… at The Forum by about $2 million a year over what the previous owner invested on an annual basis,” Perry said.

The immediate fixes will include investments in music, lights, uniforms and opportunities to get to know the tenants. Things like replacing chewed-up speaker wires in flower beds, upgrading lights and fixing small things that aren’t noticeable when they’re done right — but can give an air of shabbiness when done wrong — cost $35,000, Perry said.

Before the land use meeting, Perry did his homework. Living so close to Peachtree Corners, he can access local posts on NextDoor. He wanted to see what people were saying.

“We always start with community engagement. One of the first calls we made here was, ‘What’s the community interaction here?’” he said.

Perry debunked some of the misinformation that’s been spreading.

“A hedge fund raised the rent,” said one post.

“We didn’t buy from the hedge fund. It was a core trust. The Forum has been going downhill for years. Even before COVID, it put in a liquor store. It’s not an optimistic picture,” Perry said. “There was a pretty dire picture with Williams Sonoma leaving, and even the tenants that were there were seeking something to buy into.”

“The city should buy the property and change it to an Avalon or have more family open field stuff,” wrote another poster.

“We’ll do the Avalon if the city wants to pay for it,” said Perry. He added that the city leaders have already shown tremendous enthusiasm for creating a vibrant downtown. He mentioned the subsidies to the Town Center, the foresight in building the pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Parkway and the planning for a walkable city center.

“The Forum is suffering because the prior owner was charging too much,” a NextDoor post said.

“Just for a very quick side note, it’s not about rent, y’all. It’s about sales. About 35% of [business] expenses are payroll, another 35% are cost of goods sold and 10% are [general and administrative costs], 10% are rent and 10% are profit. When their top line sales start suffering, the first thing that goes away is profit. Then comes the quality of the product and the quality of customers. So, it is all about sales,” Perry said.

He encouraged everyone to communicate with NAP and The Forum through social media channels if that’s how they feel most comfortable. “We do monitor our Instagram feeds, our Facebook feeds and all that other kind of stuff,” he said. “But we’re here to listen, and really do read these. So please let us know.”

Five-year plan

After setting up the premises, Perry showed what can be expected at The Forum in the next five years. He shared a conceptual plan for nine major improvements or additions to the property. City Councilman Eric Christ posted a comprehensive diagram outlining those items on a NextDoor post. Here’s his take (map pictured above):

1.   NAP plans to convert the empty Kinnucan’s location into a Food Hall with multiple food stalls (think a mini–Ponce City Market). Diners could sit indoors or at a patio outside the Food Hall or in the new North Court.

2.    The North Court will be built on the central parking spaces and feature an outdoor seating area with small retail buildings (2,000 square feet each) at both ends. While cars will continue to circulate on both sides of the North Court, the roadway will be raised to be even with the sidewalk height to facilitate pedestrian access to/from the North Court.

3.  A Center Court will also be built on the central parking spaces and feature a gathering area bounded by two tiny retail buildings (450 square feet each).

4.  At the Belk end is the South Court with the lawn, a gathering area with a performance stage and a concierge building with public restrooms and valet parking service.

5.  There’s another small retail building (2,400 square feet). Note that constructing items 2-5 removes about 200 parking spaces from The Forum’s main street.

6.  To replace lost parking spaces, NAP will build a parking deck. The parking deck will be built on the existing parking lot next to Belk. It will have 300 spaces on three floors and be about 35 feet high. Per Perry, the existing Belk building is approximately 28-30 feet high. For comparison, this is about half the size of the Town Center parking deck which has 617 spaces. You will be able to access the deck via car by coming in the main entrance and under the clock tower, but also by going behind the Belk building by Ted’s Montana Grill or by going behind the retail stores by the Aiomi restaurant end. Pedestrians would get from the deck to the main street by using the cut-through at Grace 1720. Removing 200 street parking spaces but adding a 300-space parking deck would net 100 more spaces for shoppers and diners.

7.    The entrance boulevard will be redesigned with sidewalks.

8.    A boutique hotel would be built above current parking spaces in the upper parking lot next to Peachtree Parkway. The room count has not been finalized, but the target range is 125 to 175 rooms. New dedicated parking for hotel guests would also be built. Note that items 1-8 are all permitted under the current zoning and while there are requirements for building heights, construction materials, etc., these proposed items do not require City Council approval.

9.   The final component is a proposed residential complex built above current parking spaces on the Peachtree Parkway side of The Forum. There will be 300 apartments, a mix of one- and two-bedroom, no three-bedroom, units The complex would also include new dedicated parking spaces for residents. The target market would be young professionals and empty nesters. Perry stated that at Avalon, there is one school-age child in all of the apartments at that site. Residing in a C-2 zoning district is not permitted, so item 9 would require a rezoning application, a hearing before the Planning Commission and a vote by the City Council before it could be constructed.

Regarding timing, items 1-7 will be underway in the next two years while items 8 (the hotel) and item 9 (the residential, if approved by council) are four to five years away.

Questions and answers

At the end of his presentation, Perry suggested rebranding the site with a new name. “The Forum is still going to be called ‘The Forum,’ but let’s float this out for the public forum.”

He reasoned that since The Forum will be cementing the downtown of Peachtree Corners, why not change the name to “The Forum at Peachtree Corners”? That question got no real reaction. It appeared the attendees were eager to have their concerns addressed.

“You mentioned housing units. Are those rented?” a man in the audience asked.

“They’re all rented. We don’t do homes. The restaurants really need some of the turnover, so, you have a whole new set of diners, one set of patrons every year,” said Perry. “And it’s kind of a big part of why these downtowns work.”

He added that the success of the city center creates concentric outgrowth with townhomes and single family detached homes further out. But the buildings aren’t so far away that someone who rented on the property and then decided they wanted to own nearby property couldn’t take advantage of the amenities.

“Have you done any traffic impact studies relative to all this development?” asked another person in the audience.

“The increase in traffic impact studies are part of the zoning submission; that’s on the way,” said Perry. He added that there is already a traffic circle proposed at one of the entrances.

Another person asked about the number of rooms in the proposed hotel and how that will impact parking at The Forum.

“Almost all the residential development has to self-park. …We took out 300 or 200 spaces of diagonal and stuff in the middle and replaced it with 300 that’s purely for commercial parking, so it’s actually increasing the amount of parking at The Forum,” Perry said. He added that the hotel will be boutique-style which typically has 125 or 150 rooms.

As the evening progressed, questions about parking, traffic, property values, public safety and a timeline of work were asked. In general, the reactions were favorable, and everyone appeared to leave with a feeling that the development was the right thing for the area.

Lines of communication stay open

UPCCA President Matt Lombardi said he was surprised that the queries weren’t more aggressive, and that the audience seemed accept Perry’s responses to the tougher questions.

“I haven’t received a single phone call or text or email with concerns or additional questions,” he said. “Just from what I observed at the event, Tim Perry was very transparent and seemed to want to listen to any concerns.”

But a few days later, City Councilman Eric Christ gave his synopsis of the townhall meeting on Nextdoor. It appeared that the detractors chose to save their remarks for social media:

“I would hope that our city would actually use all data available to make apartments sustainable, equitable and affordable. If the city is already adding so many apartments, it should ensure developers are doing so thoughtfully. Otherwise, all we’re doing is adding traffic without infrastructure.”

“As a handicap individual, this WAS the only shopping center I used as it was so easy to park and walk directly into the store. [I] went to Avalon once and never returned due to difficulty for handicap people.”

As Perry and Christ explained, none of the zoning changes have been enacted. The purpose of the townhall was to get community input. To have one’s voice heard, both men encourage those with questions or concerns to reach out instead of suffering in silence or just grumbling to neighbors.

“Over the next 90 to 120 days, we’re going to be going through city processes,” said Perry. “We have a very, very engaged social media, so I’ll be happy to answer questions on NextDoor, since I live so close. Follow our Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. We try to be really, really good at communicating, especially when there are things that are inconvenient.”

Residents are encouraged to contact NAP at naproperties.com, or connect through instagram.com/forumpeachpkwy, facebook.com/forumpeachpkwy or twitter.com/forumpeachpkwy. ■

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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Peachtree Corners Businesses Encouraged to Join Security Camera Registration



Chris Lindenau, Fusus

After spending years with the U.S. military and companies that develop safety systems, Chris Lindenau wanted to offer that same level of security to average citizens.

“I have been leading and serving a team of dedicated, brilliant professionals as we help communities, directors of security for businesses and public safety leaders establish interoperability between community and public safety camera, AI and alert assets at an unprecedented scale,” Lindenau, CEO of Fusus, said.

He addressed an audience gathered on September 28 at the Peachtree Corners Business Association Business After Hours Speaker Series at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast.

The technology Lindenau’s company has created, the fususONE ecosystem of software and hardware solutions, is the foundational platform for the world’s real-time operations centers. It has helped hundreds of cities and businesses establish a unified security footprint unrestrained by proprietary technology limitations, according to the company’s literature.

In order to make it work at its optimal capacity, however, it needs the community — especially business owners — to join in.

“As I understand from our friends at GCPD [Gwinnett County Police Department], you’ve got a success story recently utilizing the system to catch a homicide suspect — I think it was within 45 minutes from the time of the incident,” Lindenau said. “This isn’t something that just exists here in our backyard, it exists all over the country.”

He encouraged everyone in attendance to sign up for Connect Peachtree Corners, a camera registration for businesses and homes. Right now, there are only 247 cameras registered within the Peachtree Corners city limits. Without interconnectivity, crimes that could have been solved in minutes may end up taking days or months — or may never be solved.

“That lack of information impacts the timeliness of response. It’s not just about apprehending the suspects, it’s also about bringing closure to families, because they are out on a limb until these people are apprehended,” Lindenau said.

For more information, visit connectpeachtreecorners.org.

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DW1 Unveils New Peachtree Corners Headquarters and Brand Identity



DW1, formerly known as Discount Waste, Inc., has now settled in its office in Technology Park. As Peachtree Corners sees a surge of development, DW1’s move and rebranding stand out.

Situated at 250 Scientific Drive NW, the 45,000-square-foot building has 150 private offices and seven conference rooms. It also has an advanced training room and a “Town Center” designed for company lunches.

Additionally, the space doubles as an art collection that adds character to the workspace.

This move brings together their previous locations at Engineering Drive and Triangle Parkway. It consolidates over 100 employees who have been dispersed since 2019.

The inauguration event took place on September 28, 2023, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Vice Mayor Weare Gratwick, City Councilwoman Lorri Christopher, Southwest Gwinnett Chamber (SWGC) Chairman Bill Diehl and Executive Director Beth Coffey attended the event.

Board members Margie Asef, Larry Benator and Patty Thumann were also present.

Since its start in 1999, Discount Waste, Inc., now transitioning to DW1, has been a provider of waste removal and job site solutions.

Serving a wide range of clients, from general contractors and retailers to commercial establishments, the company has always emphasized strong client relationships and service.

Outside of the business realm, CEO Ed Foye‘s commitment to societal change is evident with All Children, Inc. This initiative focuses on delivering essential resources, such as nutrition, education and shelter, to children with disabilities in developing countries.

To know more about this effort, visit AllChildren.org.

A representative from DW1 shared, “We were thrilled to welcome our employees and their families to the new location on September 28. To learn more about our company’s next chapter, please visit DW1.com.”

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New Retail Concepts Join Merchandise Collection at The Forum Peachtree Corners



As North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate (Nuveen) transform The Forum Peachtree Corners into a mixed-use development, several new businesses are joining the merchandise mix. 

National retailers that signed long-term leases include Lovesac, Petfolk and Stretchlab. Temporary license agreements were reached with Auburn Candle Company, The Baby Nook and Girl Tribe Co.

Meet the retailers

Lovesac – This company designs, manufactures and sells unique furniture that’s guaranteed for life. It offers modular couches called Sactionals, foam beanbag chairs called Sacs and associated home décor accessories, including home audio systems.

Upon opening next to Chico’s in spring 2024, Lovesac at The Forum will be the ninth location in Georgia and fourth in NAP’s portfolio. 

Petfolk – Founded by vets with decades of experience in clinical practice, Petfolk is an animal hospital and pet care center built with pets and their owners in mind. 

Veterinary services include exams, vaccinations, urgent care, nutrition, diagnostic testing, digital radiology and more. 

The Forum location opens this October by Chipotle, marking the brand’s second brick-and-mortar in metro Atlanta.

Stretchlab – Recognized for its customized, assisted-stretch sessions, Stretchlab is a wellness concept specializing in one-on-one routines led by nationally accredited flexologists. 

Using a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) approach, paired with dynamic and static stretching, the team is able to identify tightness and imbalances in the body. They then build a custom routine for each client to develop a wider range of motion and flexibility. 

Stretchlab opens next to Club Pilates at The Forum this winter.

Auburn Candle Company – Established in 2020 and based out of Auburn, Alabama, Auburn Candle Company hand-crafts signature candles and fragrances, free from additives and dyes.

In addition to shopping for pre-poured candles as well as other bath, body and home goods, candle lovers can develop their own creations at the in-store pour bar. 

Its year-long pop-up at The Forum, opening in October, will be the company’s first venture in Georgia.  

The Baby Nook – A haven for anyone seeking baby essentials and gifts, The Baby Nook will feature a select collection of baby items that combine functionality, safety and aesthetic appeal. 

The year-long pop-up will open in October next to Soft Surroundings.

Girl Tribe Co. – NAP is expanding its existing relationship with Charlotte-based Girl Tribe Co. to bring a temporary store to The Forum from October 6 through December 31. 

Created by childhood best friends and co-founders Sarah Baucom and Carrie Barker, the brand offers a collection of clothing, graphic tees, accessories and lifestyle products.

A combination of proprietary products and items made by local female entrepreneurs will be available for purchase in Suite 505, next to HomeGoods. Girl Tribe Co. also plans to host a series of events, workshops and networking sessions during its stay at The Forum.

The Forum’s merchandise mix continues to grow

These forthcoming brands join KeenaBelaGifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games as the latest additions to The Forum’s tenant collection. 

KeenaBela, an Atlanta-based, eco-friendly sleep, lounge and resort-wear brand, officially opened its year-long pop-up at The Forum last month. 

Additionally, specialty boutiques Gifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games, have once again returned for the holiday season.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest from small, local business owners looking to grow their brands in a low-risk, incubator-style environment,” said Emily Narchus, director of ancillary revenue at NAP. 

“As our leasing and development teams continue moving forward on The Forum’s renaissance, we are excited to play a part in upgrading the center’s retail makeup.”

NAP is nearing completion on the north end plaza and anticipates an early fall delivery of the 1,700-square-foot greenspace. This is the first, and smaller, of two community-driven spaces being adding to the property as part of its overall redevelopment. 

Along with the ongoing retail improvements, renovations to the office lobby in building 5185, anchored by Trader Joe’s, are now complete. 

The Forum has partnered with the Peachtree Corners Photography Club to display and sell winning pieces from its first juried exhibition in the revamped entrance.

To stay up to date on the latest property news and happenings, follow The Forum on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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