Luxury Retail Development to Resume in Atlanta

Construction is to resume in July on Streets of Buckhead — a $1.5 billion luxury development in Atlanta’s toniest neighborhood.

ATLANTA — After months of delays because of the recession and rising costs, construction is to resume in July on Streets of Buckhead, a $1.5 billion luxury development in Atlanta’s toniest neighborhood.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Developer Ben Carter, who halted the project in March, said 20 retailers, including Oscar de la Renta, Van Cleef & Arpels, Brioni and Etro have signed leases. Streets of Buckhead, planned for a seven-block area, is to feature 600,000 square feet of retail space, along with 350 rental apartments.

Hermès, another committed retailer, recently left its location at the nearby Lenox Square Mall and is now in a Carter-owned temporary space until phase one of the project, featuring 375,000-square-feet of retail and all the rental units, is completed in fall 2010, Carter said. The initial target date was fall 2009. A hotel component has been shelved until 2012 and plans for office space were eliminated.

“The project has been significantly delayed but we have faith that it will be completed.…It’s not like we’re shutting down and will be left homeless in the streets,” said Robert Chavez, chief executive officer of Hermès USA.

Bottega Veneta, AG Adriano Goldschmied and Vilebrequin signed letters of intent for Streets of Buckhead but “have decided to wait on executing leases until the economy improves,” said a spokesman for Ben Carter Properties.

“Retail projects are obviously being challenged by the retailers’ sales results…across the retail spectrum there aren’t a lot of folks who are anxious to expand,” Carter said. “Our retailers are in 100 percent agreement that 2010 is a better time to open. The economy has a better chance of recovering in 2010 than it does in 2009.”

Carter said he’s using the lull in construction to renegotiate building costs, with the savings making up “for the downtime in construction.”