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Mall unveils list of stores

SNELLVILLE - Eastern Gwinnett residents won't need to drive to Duluth, Buford or Lawrenceville to find a mall.

A new upscale outdoor mall is coming to them.

Gap Inc., Barnes & Noble booksellers and Romano's Macaroni Grill will have a spot in the Avenue Webb Gin, a 56-acre lifestyle center at Ga. Highway 124 and Webb Gin House Road.

Atlanta-based developer Cousins Properties Inc. has landed 70 retailers, businesses and restaurants. The company released its tenant list Wednesday, about two months ahead of the shopping center's phase I opening in August. Phase II launches in October.

Both phases of the shopping center are at least 72 percent leased, Cousins said.

"Retailer interest at the Avenue Webb Gin has been tremendous and we expect the next two months, leading up to our August opening, to be especially busy as we fill out the project's retailer mix," said Joel Murphy, president of Cousins' Retail Division.

"As one of the developers that helped create the retail corridor along Highway 124 more than a decade ago, Cousins is especially proud to bring a new type of shopping experience to this still growing section of Gwinnett County."

Another 20,000 square feet of retail is on the Avenue Webb Gin drawing board by 2008. The center will also set aside space for offices.

Typically upscale and built in affluent areas, lifestyle centers are not as big as traditional regional malls like the Mall of Georgia in Buford, Gwinnett Place in Duluth or Discover Mills in Lawrenceville.

Forum Development Group launched Gwinnett's first lifestyle center in 2003 in Peachtree Corners.

Real estate developers have informally tossed around the idea of a regional mall on Gwinnett's east side for years, but Cousins felt a lifestyle center would be a better fit because of the high concentration of affluent households it could serve.

The average household income within three miles of Avenue Webb Gin was almost $94,000 in 2004, according to Cousins' estimates based on marketing research firm Claritas.