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North American Properties Invests in Downtown Peachtree Corners



The Forum on Peachtree Parkway (Photo by Singh Vipul)

New owners of The Forum look to revamp downtown and create a live, work, play open-air experiential center

As anyone who’s taken on a fixer-upper project can attest, you must have vision turn the worn-out into the worthwhile. Whether it’s an old sports car sitting under a tarp in the garage, a rundown farmhouse or an aging retail center that’s lost some of its luster, the artistry is looking beyond the rusted-out floorboards or rickety front porch and picturing what it could be.

A decades-old structure could become a space where people can live in amenity-laden accommodations, work in technology-forward office space and be entertained by the trendiest venues — all within a few miles’ radius.  

That’s why many in Peachtree Corners are excited about the prospect of North American Property’s (NAP) purchase earlier this month of The Forum at Peachtree Parkway. For an undisclosed amount, it partnered with Nuveen Real Estate, another industry giant, to revitalize the 22-year-old site.

“To have an opportunity to get something like The Forum to own and be able to invest in a community like Peachtree Corners is important,” said Tim Perry, NAP managing partner. “By far the best thing was that the community just loves the asset, and it just needs a little second-generation love and needs some renewed focus. And it’s just rare you find something of such great quality with such great potential.”

With an average household income of $102,564, according to City of Peachtree Corners statics, and State Route 141, a major thoroughfare carrying commuters from as far north as Forsyth County through the city into Buckhead, the town of about 45,000 has quite an appeal. Perry, himself, takes that route from his home in Johns Creek to his offices in Midtown.

Although it lies on the Gwinnett County side of the Chattahoochee River, Peachtree Corners has the potential to rival Roswell and Alpharetta for affluence and quality of life.

Proven track record

That’s where the genius of NAP comes into play. It has already proven it can spin straw into gold, so to speak, when it comes to multi-use development. The rejuvenation of Atlantic Station in Midtown and Avenue East Cobb in Marietta, as well as starting from the ground up with Avalon in Alpharetta, are testaments to the expertise it has honed over the years.

Now The Forum stands to become the next shining example.

To make that transformation, NAP won’t just slap on a few coats of paint and add some new fixtures. This is no house-flipping endeavor. The first step to success, said Perry, is to realize what the residents want.

Take Avalon and Avenue East Cobb, which aren’t far from each other. Similarities include established, but still growing, communities and strong attachments to the reworked properties by the locals.

A retailer who wants to move into the metro Atlanta market can make a big impact and only needs to work with one company. They can obtain leases at three high-end developments that are far enough apart to avoid redundancy, but close enough to manage.

“It’s one call for a tenant to say, ‘Hey, I want to come into North Atlanta.’ Alright, we got we got three spots for you right now. And they’re far enough apart that they could conceivably be in all three,” Perry explained.

After all, in the metro Atlanta area, a 30-minute drive is almost like being in another state.

Reimagined retail: don’t call it a comeback

But the naysayers who worry that brick-and-mortar retail is dead haven’t done their homework. “Retail constantly reinvents itself,” Perry said. “If you’re a student of history, you can look at the local Main Street retail that evolved into the category of big boxes, like Walmart and Target and then the separation of service needs … it continually changes and reinvents itself. And it’s reinventing itself again.”

A recent report by the Data & Services arm of financial services titan Mastercard revealed that to remain relevant, physical retail must strategically evolve in the face of changing shopper preferences and new technologies. That means innovations in customer experience and a symbiotic relationship between physical and digital stores as a singular retail enterprise.

The report added that “many often see increases in e-commerce business after opening physical stores in a particular geography. On the flip side, a strong online presence can drive traffic in-store, as customers seek to try before they buy.”

According to Perry, “the new reinvention started with the experience and the injection of the experience and relationship that you have to have between the landlord and the tenant. So, on one end, that relationship is very transactional. And the guest experience, ‘I want to park close; I want to be able to go in and get whatever it is’ — whether that’s getting your nails done or your hair done or buying hardware or buying groceries — they want to be able to go and do that. That’s a transactional nature.”

The successful reinvention, however, goes beyond that.

“But the relationship side of it, or as we call it, the experiential side, is the other sort of end of the barbell. ‘I want to go there. I’m going to stroll, I’m going to have an experience, I’m going to socialize,’” Perry said. “Ultimately, we as humans are social beings.”

For example, you may come to buy a shirt, but then you will meet friends for dinner.

“While there, you really have to have that great experience,” he continued. “And the relationship starting between the tenant and the landlord is no longer landscaping and sweeping and lighting. It’s now ‘How can we have events that bring the community to the property and support those tenants?’ So, we don’t just do a yoga class, we do that yoga class in conjunction with Lululemon. Maybe we’re pulling that tenant out, and we may do a ‘Taste of The Forum’ type of event, where we’re getting the restaurants to come out and really put on display.”

NAP has a group called “Better Together” that works on improving the experience collectively.

“And it has some very tangible focuses, like environmental safety, physical safety, and security — all that kind of stuff,” Perry said. “But also has a very subjective approach as well, which is, ‘How do we just become happier, and how do we invest from our side in the community?’”

‘Skin in the game’

The group is focused on community interaction because NAP doesn’t just parachute into a community, make its money and leave. It becomes a part of the community.

“We hosted over 600 community-driven events across our portfolio in 2021 and raised more than $154,000 for philanthropic partners in the markets we serve,” Perry said. In serving the community, the company has to demonstrate to the city that its plans jive with the vision for the area.

To grow this wonderful live, work, play open-air experiential center — don’t call it a mall! — taxpayer dollars are going to used to create sewers and streets and hire more police and garbage collectors, and all the other things that come with expansion.

NAP has met with Peachtree Corners officials and indicated that it will seek a change in conditions and rezone property on or near The Forum for residential use.

“Right now, we’re early in the process of development for what will be a holistic property,” said Brian Johnson, Peachtree Corners City Manager. “We’re looking at how we can make The Forum and the area around it a global community for Peachtree Corners.”

To create a robust downtown, the Town Center and The Forum are two halves that need to be connected, Johnson said.

This concept isn’t unique to Peachtree Corners. It’s the “it” thing right now. Where in the past, all the commerce would be in one part of town and the residential in another part, the latest trend is to combine those — whether it’s in a macrocosm like the city of Atlanta, or more of a microcosm like the central business district in Peachtree Corners.

The city sees the project as a win for everyone.

“North American Properties looks at The Forum and the surrounding area and sees opportunities to enhance the downtown feel and expand the activities. And they have ownership, they have skin in the game,” Johnson said. “It’s good to hear them refer to The Forum in a proprietary manner. In our talks we take into account the city’s master plan for development.”

The end result is an improved downtown with the potential for growth to spin off in other areas.

With  Town Center just a few years old, this project came at the right time, added Johnson. “We’ll work out the capacity for parking, power, water, sewer — all the details —because that’s our job,” he said. “The details marry up and both sides are sure to support each other.”

Perry couldn’t agree more. “The big, big goal at the end is we want to leave a lasting difference so that if one day — anytime in the future — North American Properties is no longer an owner, the property is establishing a strong relationship through some cause with the community that it will live on, and that we are truly passing something back to our guests,” he said.

“To do that we’ve got to revamp the brand, which is step one. We’ve got to solidify a vision for all of Peachtree Corners. And then we’ve got to go and get tenants that you all want and restaurants and users that align with that vision to come in and join us and join you,” Perry said. “There’s an alignment with their brand and the qualities and values of the community. That’s the big part of it.”

Other NAP Successes

Avalon – 2200 Avalon Boulevard, Alpharetta 30009

            At 2.3 million square feet, this site is a sustainably designed urban development in a suburban setting. It infuses resort-level hospitality throughout a walkable, seamlessly connected community featuring a carefully curated retail collection and chef-driven dining experience, entertainment, living and working.

  • 86 acres
  • 570,000 square feet of retail space
  • Full-service 330-room hotel
  • 750,000 square feet of Class A office space
  • Luxury apartments and single-family homes
  • 200-plus events per year

Avenue East Cobb – 4475 Roswell Road, Marietta 30062

            The shopping and socialization center opened in August 1999 as one of the first outdoor, pedestrian-friendly retail developments. For over 20 years, the center has served as a key shopping and dining destination for residents of Cobb County, offering a collection of 44 retailers and restaurants. In July 2021, North American Properties entered a joint venture partnership with PGIM (formerly Prudential Investment Management) to reposition the open-air lifestyle center by enhancing the guest experience and creating a modern gathering place for the community.

  • 230,000 square feet of retail space
  • Four Cobb County high schools ranked in the 25 Best High Schools in Georgia
  • Expansive green spaces, trails and Chattahoochee River access throughout Cobb County

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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VyStar Credit Union Continues Growth in Georgia with the Opening of a Peachtree Corners Branch



A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 29, 2024

VyStar Credit Union has to announced that its Peachtree Corners location is now open at 5125 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners. This is VyStar’s fifth full-service branch in Metro Atlanta and joins branches in Stockbridge, Suwanee, Smyrna and Marietta.

In support of its purpose to “Do Good,” VyStar partners with non-profit organizations across the communities it serves. VyStar will make a $5,000 donation to the Rainbow Village to celebrate the grand opening of the Peachtree Corners branch at the ribbon cutting event in late May.

“VyStar’s first branch in Gwinnett will provide residents and business owners with better banking options, including free checking, access to early direct deposit, great rates, financial wellness education through VyStar’s Financial Fitness initiative, and unbelievable member-centric service that only a credit union can provide,” said VyStar EVP/Chief Operations Officer Chad Meadows.

The Peachtree Corners branch features VyStar’s digital-forward design, which enhances how employees connect with members. This includes interactive touchscreen kiosks that provide financial tools and allow members to quickly explore the latest products, services and rates. 

Lobby and drive-thru hours for the Peachtree Corners branch are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

VyStar continues to work with local organizations to build up the communities it serves. In Metro Atlanta, that includes supporting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Frontline Housing Inc., H.E.R.O. For Children and many others.

“Each time VyStar opens a new branch, it is another opportunity for us to support our purpose to Do Good. With eight full-service branches now in Georgia and our first Contact Center in Metro Atlanta, VyStar is able to provide residents and area businesses with exceptional financial products along with personalized service,” said VyStar SVP/Georgia Market President Janean Armstrong.

VyStar has seven additional locations in Georgia: Marietta, Smyrna, Suwanee, Stockbridge, Brunswick, Savannah and Thomasville, with plans to open branches in Pooler, Kingsland and Peachtree City over the next year.

The credit union is also expanding its services in Florida with a third branch in Tallahassee scheduled to open in May followed by a branch opening in the Lake Nona area in August.

To celebrate the grand opening, the community is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. Learn more about the Peachtree Corners branch.

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Kendra Scott Opens New Store At The Forum



Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is celebrating the opening of its newest store in Peachtree Corners the weekend of May 10 at The Forum.

Upon opening, the 2,263 square foot store will display Kendra Scott’s current collections. The store will also showcase the brand’s unique Color Bar, offering shoppers an interactive experience to create customized jewelry in minutes and leave with it in hand.

Worn by celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Camila Cabello, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya and Kelly Clarkson, Kendra Scott’s collections are known for their custom-created stone shapes, genuine materials and design details.

This will be Kendra Scott’s first store in Gwinnett County, which joins five other retail locations in Georgia.

The brand will continue to show its support for the community through partnerships with non-profits and local businesses. For the grand opening weekend, Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners will host various non-profits for Kendra Gives Back events, donating a percentage of proceeds directly back to the causes.

Kendra Scott hosts more than 10,000 Kendra Gives Back events in retail stores annually and looks forward to establishing relationships and connecting with the Gwinnett County community.

“We’re excited to continue introducing the community to new brands, bites and events at The Forum as part of our vision to create downtown Peachtree Corners. Kendra Scott will be a welcome addition, providing our guests a top-notch experience to shop its unique offerings in person,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Doors will open on Friday, May 10, at 10 a.m. with celebrations throughout the weekend, including giveback events, gifts with purchase and giveaways. RSVP for more details here.

Upcoming events:

  • Friday, May 10 from 10-12 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with The Forum for a VIP event. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special jewelry gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy refreshments from Giulia, The Italian Bakery.
  • Friday, May 10 from 5-7 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with the Norcross High School Cheer Team and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase* Guests can also receive a custom embroidered bow from Quiet Hours Embroidery with purchase.
  • Saturday, May 11 from 4-6 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with Spectrum Autism Support Group and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy complimentary cotton candy from Wonder Soirée with every purchase.
  • Sunday, May 12 from 12-2 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is celebrating the Community of Motherhood. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also receive a complimentary Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers from Nancy’s Flower Truck.

*One per person while supplies last.

Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is located at 5155 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 710 in Peachtree Corners at The Forum. For companywide updates and product details, follow @kendrascott on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier



Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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