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In the retail world, things are on the rebound—stores are looking for new locations. (We bet they get a discount if they buy on Black Friday.) Even once frozen retail developments are thawing, says a top retail broker, SRS Real Estate Partners' Ray Uttenhove.
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We met with Ray at last week's ICSC Southeast convention at the Cobb Galleria, along with her partner Kyle Stonis, who just joined SRS from Bull Realty. ?Almost every retailer is looking for property,? Ray says. Most recently, she helped Toys R Us open a store at Akers Mill. And she notes that some once-stalled developmentsare restarting, such as Avalon in Alpharetta by North American Properties. But don't expect a boom in development and leasing, Ray cautions: ?It is a different world,? and we probably won't return to the levels of activity we saw in the early part of this decade.
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Also during ICSC, we got to speak with Global Franchise Group'sJohnny Bauman about his company's growth. You may not know the company name, but you know its brands: Marble Slab Creamery, Pretzelmaker, Great American Cookie Co, and The Athlete's Foot. Johnny says he just opened a Marble Slab at the TOWN Brookhaven development, and plans up to three more in the metro Atlanta area this coming year, as well as three Great American Cookie stores, including one with a pending lease at Cousins Properties' The Avenue Peachtree City.
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We also had a chance to network with Shopping Center Group'sMarie Smith during the ICSC PAC Party at Cinco's. Marie recently helped sell Mabry Village, a 15k SF Starbucks-anchored shopping center in Roswell that traded for $350/SF, one of the most expensive retail sales in years in Atlanta. She tells us that it's still a bifurcatedmarket in retail investment sales: Either value-add urban or coreretail trades. The rest are muddling through.
Hartman Simons' Peter Hartman doesn't always drink beer, but when he does... We ran into Peter at the Cinco's party, and he tells us his law firm has been assisting on the Avalon project we mentioned earlier. But Peter wouldn't comment on buzz at ICSC that Avalon's big first tenants include a Whole Foods and a Regal Cinema.