The Marietta Daily Journal
By: Ricky Leroux
April 17, 2015
CUMBERLAND — The leader of the firm working on the retail component of the Braves’ $400 million mixed-use development described the environment his company is aiming for, saying they are targeting local chefs and affordable shopping.
Jeff Fuqua, principal of Fuqua Development, is responsible for 400,000 square feet of retail space for shops and restaurants, 70 percent of which is planned to be built with residential units above them. During a panel discussion Thursday at the Georgian Club, Fuqua said laughingly he thinks he drew the short straw among the Braves’ partners.
“Of course, I feel like I have the hardest job of the partners in the deal because I’m the retail guy, and I have to work with a hundred personalities, all of them retailers (or) restaurants that think they’re more important to the deal than the Braves are,” Fuqua said. “That is true, they all think that.”
In their discussion titled “Cumberland at Bat,” leaders of the firms working on different components of the mixed-use development being built next door to the stadium talked about working together on the project.
The Braves have tapped Atlanta-based Fuqua Development to work on the retail portion of the development, Cumberland-based Pope & Land for the office component and Atlanta-based Pollack Shores Real Estate Group on the residential portion.
Atlanta-based Wakefield Beasley & Associates is the lead designer on the mixed-use development.
Mason Zimmerman, senior vice president of Pope & Land, said these firms worked together to try to become the Braves’ partners in the project.
“Our pitch was simple,” he said. “We said we think to execute this, you need a team that has local knowledge and local experience and can understand what it is you’re trying to do and execute it. We were pleasantly surprised after all was said and done that they chose the team of the four of us.”
Lamar Wakefield, CEO of Wakefield Beasley & Associates, said his company works with each of those three firms to “energize the space” so each of the components can succeed.
“It’s about merchandizing a space successfully,” Wakefield said. “So we have an area that may be more soft goods and women’s apparel, some is more men’s (apparel), some is more sports-related, some that’s more entertainment related. They’ve done a great job of doing that, so our job is to take each of those merchandizing plans and, working with Pollack Shores and Pope & Land, try to integrate this interface with the Braves’ ballpark.”
Fuqua said the project is unique in that it has retail, residential, office and entertainment space, and very few projects in the country have each of these components in the same area. Even fewer, Fuqua said, have a professional sports facility as their centerpiece.
“We always try to describe what this project is and how it’s different than other projects,” Fuqua said. “It’s not a lifestyle center, it’s more than a mixed-use project. It’s more than a shopping center. It’s more than a multi-family development. I kind of describe it as an open-air, mixed-use, entertainment project anchored by a Major League Baseball stadium, which is different than anything out there.”
Fuqua said there are about 20 restaurants “in the project” and while it has drawn the interest of restaurateurs from California and New York, his firm is focusing on bringing in local chefs.
“Atlanta has a really great restaurant (market),” Fuqua said. “No place like Atlanta for restaurants, so we’re chasing those top names.”
Regarding retail shops, Fuqua said his firm is having to turn tenants away because the draw to be a part of the project is so strong.
“We’re able to draw better and better tenants, and we’re kind of shelving a lot of retailers we’re working with for better and better tenants,” he said.
However, Fuqua said the retail shops would appeal to everyday customers: more J. Crew and Anthropologie than Paris Fashion Week.
“We’re drawing a lot of first-to-market retailers, I would say. We’re not chasing … Gucci and Armani.”
Both Fuqua and Wakefield said one of the biggest draws for the development will be the plaza area designed to bridge the gap between the development and the ballpark. Wakefield called the plaza “absolutely spectacular” and said it would have events nearly every day of the year.
“It’s an amazing space that’s going to promote an incredible amount of interactivity for the shopper and (will add to) this experience that I’m telling you guys about that we want to create so that each component can be successful,” Wakefield said.
Fuqua agreed, saying the plaza will draw a crowd on its own.
“People will come from everywhere just to be out in this plaza and (have) 10 restaurants right on top of you, maybe 13,” Fuqua said.
While the retail tenants have yet to be announced, the office component is already filled: The Braves announced in March that Comcast would occupy 100 percent of the nine-story office building in the development, which is expected to have more than 200,000 square feet of office space.
Tad Leithead, chair of the Cumberland Community Improvement District and moderator of Thursday’s panel, praised the Braves for being able secure such a tenant at this early stage.
“The Braves are a Major League Baseball organization,” Leithead said. “They’ve announced one office building in their history. Before they broke ground on it, it was 100 percent leased. Does that sound right to you? That hadn’t happened to me, not in my career in office development.”
Moderated by Tad Leithead, right, the panel of Mason Zimmerman, far left, Lamar Wakefield, Jeff Fuqua, Connie Engel and Mike Plant talk about the mixed-use development being built next door to Suntrust Park during a discussion at the Georgian Club.