The first thing shoppers heading to Avalon may notice is what isn’t there. There is not a single department store among more than 40 retailers at the new mixed-use development opening Oct. 30 in Alpharetta.
What shoppers will find is a curated selection of specialty retailers and restaurants, some of which are opening their first locations in the state. While other stores may have space intown, many have chosen Avalon for their outside-the-Perimeter debut.
“The plan was not to draw intown people here, but to create an experience for this market,” said Liz Gillespie, partner and vice president of marketing for North American Properties, which bought more than 100 acres out of foreclosure in 2011. Avalon, she said, was the first move that made sense for many businesses that sought a presence OTP.
The sprawling development at Ga. 400 and Old Milton Parkway is home to more than 60 retailers and restaurants, 250 luxury apartment homes, 101 single-family homes and loft office spaces. In fall 2016, the second phase of Avalon is slated to open with additional retail, restaurant and office space, as well as a branded hotel, Gillespie said.
The Oct. 30 opening is another indicator of the forward-moving economy as retailers and restaurants jumped at the chance to reach shoppers in a new location.
Avalon is home to the first Lou & Grey store in Georgia and only the third location in the country. Though its parent company is Loft, Lou & Grey is a separate brand, birthed on the side by a group of passionate designers who wanted to dress in a way that reflected their lives, said creative director Austyn Zung. The goal is effortless yet stylish apparel and accessories to complement a laid-back lifestyle.
Soft Surroundings, which started as a catalog business and now has 16 stores nationwide, also opens its first Georgia space at Avalon. The St. Louis-based company offers a range of beauty, home and apparel items with brands such as Jane Iredale, NYDJ and Minnetonka.
Another new-to-Georgia shop is Tennessee-based The Cosmetic Market, a haven for makeup lovers with a Sephora-like policy of letting customers touch and test cosmetics and beauty tools. The space also will have two facial rooms, spray tanning, and a Bliss wax bar.
Other retail favorites include Lululemon, Fab’rik, J. Crew and Kendra Scott, while services range from hair salons — Drybar and Van Michael Salon — to fitness, Flywheel and later this fall, Exhale Mind Body Spa. The 12-theater Regal Avalon offers king-size recliners in each theater and a full bar in the lobby.
A flurry of chef-driven restaurants at Avalon, which include Ford Fry’s the El Felix and Giovanni di Palma’s Antico Pizza, also have helped generate buzz. Ciarán Duffy, chef and creator of Bantu Noodles, aims to offer Asian cuisine in a bright, casual, family-friendly restaurant with a touch of technology. A flat screen greets visitors at the door introducing menu items (with the correct pronunciation) and perfect pairings of wine and sake.
Scattered throughout the 86-acre property are nine interactive directories showing the retail and restaurant offerings as well as daily listings of activities such as yoga in the park or chef demonstrations. The common areas at Avalon feature fountains, a rooftop bar, a wood-burning fireplace and themed children’s play area.
A concierge is on-site to help guests plan everything from corporate meetings to birthday parties, and soon the Avalon Black Card, a membership-based reward program, will give shoppers personal attention and exclusive perks inside Avalon and beyond.