Atlanta Business Chronicle

Midtown Mile draws savvy new retail, eateries

December 10-16, 2010, Special Section, page 41A

By Martin Sinderman

The leasing market hasn’t completely recovered, but there are some signs — in the form of new businesses — that things are improving for the Midtown retail and restaurant market.

The focus of today’s action is on the Midtown Mile, a multi-use redevelopment initiative, supported by the Midtown Alliance and area property owners covering 14 blocks of the Peachtree Street corridor from 15th Street to North Avenue.

The goal for the retail component of the Midtown Mile is to create a unique urban shopping district, along the lines of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and New York’s Madison Avenue, that features a mix of major high-end national retailers, local boutiques and a variety of restaurants.

Midtown’s demographic base is what turns retailers and restaurants on when it comes to a location in this market, according to Selig Enterprises Inc. Senior Vice President Shirley Gouffon, who handles retail leasing for 12th & Midtown, the $2 billion mixed-use office/retail/hotel/residential condominium project at the intersection of Peachtree and 12th streets.

“Midtown has density, and a large population base comprised of young, well-educated urban professionals,” Gouffon said. “You’ve got the dream demographic for most retailers here — a median age of 35, and an average annual income of more than $80,000.”

According to statistics from the Midtown Alliance, this market’s population base includes 21,800-plus students at Georgia Tech and the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus; more than 30,000 residents of high-rise, loft and single-family residences; a daytime population anchored by 86,000 employees of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., The The Coca-Cola Co., a number of Fortune 1000 companies, and eight of Atlanta’s 10-largest law firms; and visitors staying at Midtown hotel rooms with brands including Loews, Palomar and Four Seasons.

In the 12th & Midtown tenant lineup, STK, a New York-based steakhouse owned by The ONE Group, is slated to open in July 2011, Gouffon reports.

The 12,000-square-foot space will be occupied by the steakhouse as well as its hamburger-concept restaurant, STK OUT.

Meanwhile, CB2, a trendy Chicago-based housewares and home furnishings chain, an offshoot of Crate & Barrel, that targets the young and hip, opened a 14,000-square-foot store here in August. Meanwhile, Exhale Mind Body Spa opened a 24,000-square-foot facility here in September. And four restaurants are up and running. They include Ri Ra Irish Pub and Restaurant; RA Sushi Bar Restaurant; Piola, an Italian eatery with brick-oven pizza; and Noon Midtown, which features sandwiches, soups and salads.

Now is a good time for to check out a Midtown location for a restaurant, according to Hugh Acheson, chef and partner of Empire State South, located at 999 Peachtree St. An intimate venue with 120 seats that opened in August, the restaurant puts an emphasis on “farm-to-table” cuisine, that of growing and consuming fresh, local and sustainably grown food,

“Midtown is walkable and there’s great foot traffic — people who work, live and visit here are looking for more great restaurant options, and now was the perfect time for us to join the community,” said Acheson, adding, “Business is about 30 percent above expectations, and we are beginning to look at another concept.”

There is close to 30,000 square feet worth of retail space remaining to be leased at 12th & Midtown, according to Gouffon, who indicated that there are announcements of new retail tenants on tap within the next 30 to 60 days.

View the full article here.