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Belk to close at Gwinnett Place

DULUTH -- Last March, retail property giant Simon dropped Gwinnett Place Mall as a client. Now Belk is leaving the mall.

The company said the store will close in August.

"The decision to close the store was made after carefully evaluating our business plans, competitive position and the financial performance of the store," said Jessica Graham, Belk's vice president of communications and community relations.

Gwinnett Place, which contains several specialty shops and has been serving metro Atlanta since 1984, will still be anchored by department stores JCPenney, Macy's and Sears.

The Duluth mall has long struggled with local competitors Sugarloaf Mills and the Mall of Georgia (both Simon properties). Gwinnett Place is now operated by McKinley, Inc., a Michigan-based company that took over the property in June 2012.

Comments

kevin 1 year, 4 months ago

So much for the big drop in crime and the great business climate there. And the Gwinnett BOC keep throwing money into the Chamber of Commerce and all those other private outfits to attract business. Something is amiss here.

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cwkimbro 1 year, 4 months ago

But the area around the mall is doing better than it was a couple years ago. I think you might be reading into this too much. The Chamber of Commerce is privately funded through membership dues from 2000 businesses in the county, not from the county. I think they care more about attracting high paying jobs, so there is a large customer base, not lure each individual big box store.

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suedehead 1 year, 4 months ago

The area has improved but malls are dying unless they're upscale (MOG) or a destination (Sugarloaf Mills), hence Simon dropping GP. The owners will need to work fast and be creative in order to save it. JCPenney will be the next to go. Then Sears, when it finally goes under. It's a shame since it's still well maintained. Last time I was there I couldn't believe amount of vacancies and really amazed the food court only had 4 tenants remaining. If Chick-fil-A has left the mall, you're dead.

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Haughton 1 year, 4 months ago

Lifestyle centers like The Forum in Norcross and The Avenues in Snellville are the trend. The death of the mall concept even has it's own website.

http://www.deadmalls.com/

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 1 year, 4 months ago

Unfortunately, it looks like Gwinnett Place Mall is the very next contestant on the Dead Malls website.

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Sandykin 1 year, 4 months ago

The whole concept of a shopping mall is really passe. In the 70s and 80s, people went to malls to shop for hours, to people see; it was entertainment really. Who has time for that anymore? In this day and age, people are busy and time is of the essence. When I need something, I don't want to stroll and window shop, I want to go to the specific store that carries that item or items, get what I need and be my way. If malls are going to survive, they will have to reinvent themselves and offer what consumers today are looking for or become mixed use - office/retail, probably residential as well to have a built in base of customers.

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Mack711 1 year, 4 months ago

Like you we do not go to the malls much anymore. We do not have the time to window shop. It is easier and cheaper this day and time to do things from the safety and comfort of our home. We use the internet to get the items we need and can be done on our schedule. The prices are usually cheaper and delivery is with in a day or two. Even Belk on line is cheaper on line. There are things that we must go out for but not that many.

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LilburnLady 1 year, 4 months ago

A few years ago, the mall area was rezoned for mixed use and for high-rise condo/office towers. Of course, this happened right before the real estate crash and recession and the developers who got that rezoning dropped their plans. What the area really needs are residential developments within that mall area (upscale, but affordable condos). I agree that malls went out of fashion in the 80's and 90's, but shopping will never go out of style and people want to shop closer to home these days. Build the residential units and the retail will follow.

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Haughton 1 year, 4 months ago

The recession was a blessing in disguise for those developers. I think the time has passed for enticing developers to do anything other than what the current demographics and income data dictate. We are not talking about Perimeter, we are talking about Gwinnett County. If you build it, they will not come to Gwinnett Place.

The current place to be is the Snellville / 124 / Avenues corridor as recently discussed. Developers cannot be told where to go and what to do, they are paying closer attention to demographic and income data to tell them where to build.

The economy has not been kind to Gwinnett Place. Be thankful the CID does what little it is able to do, and even that might not be enough to save the area longterm.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 1 year, 4 months ago

It's not just the economy that has not been kind to Gwinnett Place, but also Father Time.

GPM was in steep decline long before the Great Recession hit, the economic downturn has likely just finished off what demographics and overbuilding were already taking a very-heavy toll on.

The Atlanta region local custom of overbuilding commercial and residential development further and further out away from the urban core along with demographics also has contributed heavily to Gwinnett Place's steep decline as GPM was in big trouble the day that the Mall of Georgia opened in 1999.

The opening of Sugarloaf Mills Mall (formerly Discover Mills) only a few miles up the road only served to speed-up Gwinnett Place's precipitous decline and the emergence of the Forum on Peachtree and the Hwy 124 Corridor/Avenue Webb Gin have likely brought about the end of Gwinnett Place as we once knew it.

Despite the heady and heavy growth that has pole-vaulted the population in Gwinnett to over 825,000 people, the Gwinnett County market is likely oversaturated with retail because most of the newcomers to the county in the last several years (roughly since the 1996 Olympics) have been those with relatively-lower incomes unlike the higher-middle and higher income residents who made up most of the migration into the county before 1990.

The overdevelopment of shopping areas has left a county with declining per-capita incomes with 5 major shopping areas trying to compete for a limited share of affluent shoppers that has been made even more limited by a soft economy.

Looks like Gwinnett Place is the odd man out because of its relatively-advanced age.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 4 months ago

Let Belk go. That store makes me more than mad. Ever been to the one at Phipps? Does not come anywhere near the low budget, cruddy stuff they have at Snellville, Fayette, etc. stores. That is profile stocking if I ever saw it....and is totally insulting to the patrons of both. But they are just two....same true at almost all other Belks in the burbs.

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Haughton 1 year, 4 months ago

Belk, formerly Parisian, was most likely offered a sweet deal to be there, even if was short term till Simon could get out. Belk has been around long enough in both the rural towns and big southern cities to know how their customer shops. They are not going to put high end merchandise in a Snellville store that competes directly with next door Kohls, no more than they are going to put moderate apparel in Phipps and expect bargain shoppers.

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Why_not 1 year, 4 months ago

Belk wasn't formerly Parisians.It was founded in 1988 and later they acquired Profitts but not Parisians.

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Haughton 1 year, 4 months ago

Belk website: On July 5, 2005, Belk completed the purchase of 47 Proffitt's and McRae's department stores from Saks Incorporated. Belk converted the 39 Proffitt's and McRae's stores to the Belk nameplate on March 8, 2006. Just over a year later, Belk purchased 38 Parisian department stores from Saks on October 2, 2006.

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Why_not 1 year, 4 months ago

I missed that but they were not formerly Parisians as you stated.

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SabrinaWorks247 1 year, 4 months ago

cwkimbro: You wrote:

"The Chamber of Commerce is privately funded through membership dues from 2000 businesses in the county, not from the county."

This is NOT true. Taxpayers have been giving over $1 million per year to the Gwinnett Chamber.

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Mack711 1 year, 4 months ago

The Board of Education gave the Chamber over $150K of our tax money also. Was that included in your commet also.

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SabrinaWorks247 1 year, 4 months ago

Hi Mack711: The county commissioners have been giving $500,000 per year to the Gwinnett Chamber/Partnership Gwinnett. Gwinnett County Public Schools has been paying the salaries of 2 economic development managers with education funds since 2007 at a rate of approximately $150,000 per year, the Gwinnett Conventions & Visitors Bureau has been giving them $100,000 per year, the cities in Gwinnett have made payments, the CID’s have made payments, the Gwinnett Industrial Development Authority has made payments, the Norcross Downtown Development Authority has made payments, and Gwinnett Tech and other government entities have made payments. Millions and millions of taxpayer dollars have been given to the Gwinnett Chamber/Partnership Gwinnett.

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Mack711 1 year, 4 months ago

No wonder the county is broke with all that money going down the drain from so many agencies. What a racket. thanks for the insight

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JHogan 1 year, 4 months ago

What, exactly, is the problem here? Is it that the county shouldn't try to entice businesses to move to Gwinnett County? Should the county try to do this directly, or not at all?

Or should the county partner with the overall business commuity to try to improve the livelihoods of the citizens of Gwinnett County (and all 15 cities therein)?

That makes good sense to me. I don't think sitting and hoping is much of a plan.

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DB 1 year, 4 months ago

Went to the GP grand opening in 1984(?) and frequented it for decades. Haven't been back in years. The area no longer appeals to us.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 1 year, 4 months ago

When Gwinnett Place Mall opened in 1984, there were roughly only about 200,000 or so people in all of Gwinnett County.

For about 15 years, Gwinnett Place was basically the "only-game-in-town" as there were no other malls or dominant shopping areas in the county until the Mall of Georgia opened in 1999.

Fast forward to the present day and, as of 2013 there are more than 825,000 people living in Gwinnett County (roughly 625,000 more people in the county than when GPM first opened nearly 30 years ago back in 1984...a population increase of well over 300 PERCENT) and four other major shopping areas in the county (Sugarloaf Mills Mall, The Mall of Georgia in Buford, The Forum on Peachtree in P'tree Corners, and the Hwy. 124 Corridor in Snellville), not to mention numerous one-stop-shop Wal-Mart Supercenters, which were not found in abundance in the area in 1984, and the Internet, which did not exist 30 years ago when GPM opened and dominated the Northeast Metro Atlanta market.

The same stark and dramatic demographic changes that are happening to Gwinnett County and Metro Atlanta as a whole that are turning once-distant upscale suburbs into urban districts have been going on in aging suburbs around places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for many years.

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JHogan 1 year, 4 months ago

Grab hold of your chair. Suppose that Gwinnett County were to buy the entire area around Gwinnett Place Mall and turn it into a version of Coney Island South. Sorta like 6 Flags, only bigger and better. But open 365 days a year. Call it "Heart of the South" park or something like that. It would draw from a very large, largely affluent area--from Charlotte to indianapolis to Chattanooga to New Orleans to JAcksonville.

We are so fortunate to live in a very mild climate, so that even in the coldest days of winter is rarely gets to 10 degrees F. For the past few years, it hasn't even gotten that low. Point being, that climate control, year-round, wouldn't be that hard. It probably wouldn't even be necessary during most of the summer, except to keep it no higher than 83 degrees inside. (That's the human limit of tolerance to heat without griping about it,)

Building some sort of containment structure shouldn't be very difficult in areas where climate is a concern.

The area is already graded and site-prepped, with much parking available.

This seems to me to be a marriage made in heaven. It isn't very often that a local government gets the chance to shine, but this is one of those times.

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LilburnsFuture 1 year, 4 months ago

I know this is a wild idea, but why not replace Briscoe Field? Knock down all those buildings and make a 50% increase in capacity version of Briscoe Field airport.

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JHogan 1 year, 4 months ago

Uh, that was tried last year and there are some former county commissioners who can tell you why this is a bad idea. The majority in the county doesn't want to increase traffic at Briscoe Field.

The area around Gwinnett Place Mall will have to be repurposed, because American's shopping habits have changed. Not just here, but everywhere. Here we have this magnificient ediice, complete with intricate interstate access (I-85) and with all the necessary roads already built. And the world's busiest airport is only 30 minutes to the south.

Combine that with a network of local roads that are already in place, with the drainage issues taken care of.

The roads and streets are already in place in the local area; there is water and sewerage, and the electrical infrastructure is already in place.

If I were an artist, I don't think I could imagine a more appropriate canvas.

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