Georgetown Rebirth is a "Big Deal"

Courtesy of the Dunwoody Crier~
Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:24 am | Updated: 10:26 am, Tue Jul 17, 2012.

By Fran Memberg For The Crier

Surrounded by many longtime tenants and soon to be joined by some popular new additions, Kroger remains the centerpiece and largest lessee in Georgetown shopping center, which is putting the finishing touches on a 16-month multi-million dollar renovation.

Following the Aug. 1 Kroger grand re-opening, Labor Day is the target date for the opening of new tenants Vino Venue, a destination for enjoying, learning about and purchasing wine; and two eateries, Farm Burger and Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream, which will share space.

Michael Starling, the city of Dunwoody’s economic development director, calls the Georgetown renovation “a big deal.” He added, “To have a renovation of this size to occur [in a down economic climate] is fantastic for our economy and the residents who live in the community and shop in that center.”

Georgetown, located on the northwest corner of Chamblee Dunwoody Road at I-285, has been owned by a German entity since 1977 and managed by Atlanta-based Coro Realty Advisors for about 15 years. According to Coro’s president, John Lundeen, there have been several renovations since the center was built in the early 1970s, but the current project is the most extensive. It includes storefront painting, parking lot resurfacing, tree islands, new lighting, sidewalks from the parking lot to Kroger’s entrance and along Chamblee Dunwoody Road, and a handicap ramp stretching from Starbucks to Kroger. The renovated property has been expanded by about 13,000 square feet to 142,450 square feet.

Georgetown’s renovation is consistent with similar projects in metro Atlanta, according to Sarah Dasher, the Atlanta research manager at Jones Lang LaSalle, an international financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate services and investment management.

“Capital is being invested in well-located retail projects, rather than in new centers,” said Dasher, citing such strips centers as Tuxedo Festival in Buckhead, which attracted trendy new tenants because of a recent renovation.

The Georgetown Kroger opened in December 1973 and has been remodeled and expanded several times. The current renovation, begun in June 2011, expands the store from 52,000 to 78,000 square feet. Shoppers will see upgrades including enhanced and expanded deli/bakery, meat/seafood, produce and natural foods departments; and an upscale deli that includes a bistro, sushi bar, cheese and olive shop and Chef on the Run, among others.

“Our staff spends hours researching and evaluating the needs of residents in the community,” said Glynn Jenkins, the director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Along with careful evaluation of the needs of Kroger customers in the surrounding area, strategic planning and the design of the facility both play an important role whenever we expand an existing location. Community relevance is extremely important to Kroger, and we approach the development of each location individually.”

Remaining in Georgetown despite the close proximity of Dunwoody’s Orchard Park Kroger attests to the grocery chain’s commitment to the area.

“Kroger has a long history with the residents of the Dunwoody community. The Dunwoody community is extremely important to us, and our recent store improvements will offer even more choices and convenience for our customers,” Jenkins said.

For this most recent Georgetown renovation, the first since the city of Dunwoody was established, Coro’s jurisdictional dealings on issues such as construction permits switched from DeKalb County to the city.

“Everybody has been willing to work together as a team to make this transformation,” said Paul Ludwig, Coro’s development vice president.

Georgetown isn’t the only area of Dunwoody to attract independent restaurants and local and national chain eateries in recent months. New openings include: Carbonara Trattoria in Dunwoody Village; the first Atlanta location of Austin, Texas-based Chuy’s and the fourth Atlanta-based Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, both on Perimeter Center West; the ninth Atlanta-based Marlow’s Tavern in Dunwoody Village; and Atlanta-based Uncle Maddio’s fourth Atlanta location in the Walmart shopping center. Capital Grille is under construction on Perimeter Center West.

“In the downturn of retail, [it’s a good sign] to have five or six restaurants open in the last year,” said Starling, Dunwoody’s economic development director. “There is an amazing amount of investment in this down economic environment [and that is a] testament to the Dunwoody area.”