By  on April 4, 2005

ATLANTA — The events leading up to the remerchandising of Phipps Plaza here constituted “the perfect storm,” an executive of the center said.

Lease expirations, the closing of Lord & Taylor and the relocation of Abercrombie & Fitch to Lenox Square mall across the street freed up space for 20 new stores, including a 153,000-square-foot Nordstrom in an anchor slot.

“The mall needed to be tweaked, to have a jolt of new energy from hot retailers,” said Tisha Maley, assistant vice president of leasing for Simon Property Group, Phipps’ owner.

Nordstrom attracted Oilily and April Cornell, which were originally in Lenox Square. “Many retailers feel they perform better with the Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue combination,” Maley said. is scheduled to open its 2,600-square-foot space with minimal white decor in August. The store will be the company’s first in Atlanta. Sigrid Olsen will also unveil a store in August.

Barneys New York’s Co-op, which opened in February, is a coup for the mall. Maley said she approached the company after learning it was looking for a location in the Southern fashion capital.

Abercrombie’s departure freed four slots in the 823,000-square-foot mall. Landau, Jimmy Choo and Anne Fontaine, the Paris purveyor of women’s white blouses, will fill three spaces. The fourth has yet to be announced.

Maley attributes high-end retail growth to the luxury market boom. “It’s been on fire for the last 18 to 24 months,” she said.

Jeffrey Kalinsky, a longtime Phipps tenant who opened Bob Ellis Shoes in 1990, followed by Jeffrey Atlanta and Jil Sander in 1996, remembers the mall in the Nineties. It was a period when few retailers were opening stores.

“We were a destination store, which is what I like,” he said. “We have lots of new neighbors now, but they’re great neighbors.”

Other changes at Phipps include Saks Fifth Avenue’s renovation and Chico’s relocation and expansion. Last year saw the arrival of Soma by Chico’s, Brighton Collectibles, Lucky Brand Jeans and White House/Black Market.With restaurants providing patio seating, Phipps is becoming a more social experience. “It’s become the place to see and be seen,” Maley said. “People love to drive their expensive cars up to the valet and have everyone see them.”  

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