Peachtree Corners Mayor Pro Tem Weare Gratwick remembers when The Forum on Peachtree Parkway had the “It” factor and was a major draw for local residents.
It wasn’t that hard for Gratwick to see how popular the shopping destination, which opened in 2002, was in the 2000s as a social gathering spot, however. His own family gave him all of evidence he needed.
It’s a vibe that just hasn’t been the same in recent years, according to Gratwick.
“It was (the place to go),” he said. “When my daughters grew up here, in middle school, they hung out here all the time and I don’t think that’s as true (now) because you just don’t have the places to go and the same energy here that you had 20 years ago.”
Although The Forum has not totally dried up, North American Properties is looking to get back some of the center’s old luster. The development firm — which developed Avalon in Alpharetta and redeveloped Colony Square in Atlanta — bought The Forum earlier this year and has worked with the city and business leaders on redevelopment plans.
North American has been working on plans to revitalize The Forum as a place where people can live and play.
The plans for The Forum’s future range from changes that have already begun, such as the launch of a three month Friday night live music series, to more substantial changes, such as adding about 381 Class A multifamily units, as well as a parking deck, a hotel and more green space within The Forum.
The Friday night music series, which will continues every Friday until the end of October, kicked off Friday night with a performance by James and Julia. The Forum will also begin hosting community yoga on Wednesday nights as well.
“(It will be) downtown Peachtree Corners, all of it, and you see that in our branding,” North American Properties Co-Managing Partner Tim Perry said.
North American unveiled The Forum’s new branding on Friday night.
The shopping and dining destination that had officially been known as The Forum on Peachtree Parkway for two decades will now be known as The Forum Peachtree Corners.
Although it’s a slight tweak to the name, North American Properties officials say they wanted the shopping center’s name to reflect the biggest change that has happened in the area since The Forum opened: the birth of the city of Peachtree Corners in 2012.
“There wasn’t a (city of) Peachtree Corners 20 years ago, it was just an area and this became part of that definition of the area,” Perry said. “Now the city has been here for 10 years. It’s grown. There’s a Town Center development across the street with a town green parks and trail systems. This is an opportunity to bring it all together as downtown Peachtree Corners.”
Perry also said North American wanted the new branding to reflect what The Forum itself is becoming as opposed to what it was 20 years ago.
“Over the last 20 years, it really hasn’t been invested in or reinvented and everything from the merchandising mix to just how space is used has changed, and it’s no longer just outdoor open air,” Perry said. “It’s the experience you have to have while you’re here.
“Shopping is only one thing we do and this was originally very soft good-centered, but to combine that and stack those experiences of shopping with I’m going to take a yoga class and stay for music or we go eat and then we go to a comedian. Stacking those experiences together increases the dwell time and makes it a place that’s socially magnetic.”
And North American is planning on building on some of the big activities that have already called The Forum home. One of those is Light Up The Corners Glow Run, which is an annual fundraiser for the Robert Fowler YMCA that has always been held at The Forum, on Aug. 20.
Light Up the Corners organizer Amy Massey said she is looking forward to the impact a revitalized version of The Forum could have on the event.
“The plans that they have for green space in the middle will make it so much nicer for our race because it will feel more like an event space and not just running in a parking lot, so I’m super excited about the changes,” she said.
But, before the revitalized version of The Forum becomes a reality, there is going to be a lot of construction taking place at the shopping center.
The parking deck will be the first major construction project, followed by the redevelopment of some existing parking areas in The Forum. Some of the existing parking will be turned into lawn space for social activities and some will be replaced with new restaurants.
A lot of the existing parking will stay, however, for customers who shop at HomeGoods or for seniors who might find the parking deck too far of a walk from some shops and restaurants. Those changes are expected to take a year, to a year-and-a-half to complete. Perry said work is set to begin in spring 2023.
The housing will come after the parking deck, lawn space and other interior changes are made. Perry said the residential component is being included to support the restaurants and retail that is located at The Forum.
“At Avalon, we have 576 units (and) the average (of residents) is over 50-years-old and they are going out to eat four days a week and they’re seeing concerts and it adds that energy to it,” Perry said. “So the restaurants do well.”
Meanwhile, the planned hotel — which Perry said will be half of the size of The Hotel at Avalon — will be built next to the Peachtree Corners bridge over Peachtree Parkway so guests have easy access to activities and restaurants at both The Forum and the Town Center across the street.
The hotel at The Forum will also differ from the Hotel at Avalon in another way. It will not have a conference center like the one at Avalon has, but it will have some other amenities.
“There will still be rooftop (amenities) and that suite of services, but it’s not a convention hotel,” Perry said.
Gratwick said the redevelopment of The Forum will be a major boost to the area where Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners Circle and Medlock Bridge Road intersect each other.
“I would say I’m excited about the vision that North American Properties has,” he said. “I love the concept of sort of a downtown that’s got your density. I like looking at this area as a triangle. You’ve got both sides of the road and the (Peachtree Corners) bridge connects it, not only from a public safety standpoint, but also from an economic development standpoint. I think that will pay dividends once this is done.”