By  on May 6, 1994

NEW YORK -- Bloomingdale's is planning to open a store in Atlanta's Phipps Plaza in fall '96 or spring '97.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Parisian already have stores in the mall, which is at 3500 Peachtree Rd. The Bloomingdale's unit will be 210,000 square feet.

In 1992, Phipps Plaza completed a $140 million renovation that took the center from 24 stores to its current 110 stores. Another expansion is in the works that will bring Phipps to 1.4 million square feet, while adding 130 new specialty retailers.

The Bloomingdale's plan to enter Atlanta still must be approved by Federated's board, which is expected to make a decision this month.

The 15-unit Bloomingdale's division of Federated Department Stores has been beefing up its branch store system for three years in preparation for expansion by cutting operating costs and improving merchandising and management as well as renovating. In the Eighties, the chain had a reputation for throwing its weight behind the 59th Street flagship and neglecting the branches. That stalled expansion, but now the division appears ready to launch new units.

For several years, Federated has wanted to take Bloomingdale's west to California. Some believe if Federated is successful in its takeover attempt of R.H. Macy & Co., certain units of I. Magnin and Bullock's, two Macy chains on the West Coast, might be converted to Bloomingdale's.

At Phipps Plaza, Bloomingdale's will be right across the street from the Lenox Mall where Rich's, Federated's Atlanta-based division, operates a store.

Bloomingdale's, however, appeals to a more upscale customer with its assortments of primarily better, bridge and designer goods, while Rich's is weighted toward moderate and better-priced goods. In several malls, Federated operates more than one anchor. For example, Bloomingdale's and Burdines are neighbors in the Boca Raton and Dadeland mall. Burdines is Federated's Miami-based division.

Bloomingdale's and Jordan Marsh, another Federated chain, recently merged with the Abraham & Straus division. Both operate in the Chestnut Hill Mall in Massachusetts.

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