Thursday, July 6, 2017

Stonecrest Mall, Lithonia, GA

     If one ever wanted to do a case study on diversity, wealth, and malls, Stonecrest Mall would be nearly perfect for it. Nestled in Lithonia, Georgia, off I-20, the area probably has some of the oddest demographics for a live mall around. The area is primarily Hispanic and African-American, usually bad for shopping centers. Instead, the diversity helps out here, as the wealth of the surrounding area is high-middle class. Driving around the area takes you past large mansions on acres of land. Traditional suburbs would have an average mall with pretty average retail.

A directory of the mall.
     Despite the area, the mall isn't completely spotless. Kohl's left the mall in late 2016, though I think the spot can be replaced easily. Finally convincing Belk to join the anchors would help (more on that later) or if that's not possible, Dick's Sporting Goods would probably do good business. The nearest Dick's is in Loganville, 20 miles away. Dick's probably wouldn't have struggles with the surrounding demographics, and it wouldn't be impossible to land a lease with them. Also, the anchor closure isn't a sign that the mall is dying. H&M and Victoria's Secret have come to the mall recently. A simple renovation and expansion would bring the mall to becoming a major player in the Atlanta retail market. 

In our redevelopment, Sears and JCP close and are replaced with Belk and Nordstrom.
An upscale fashion expansion between Belk and Macy's is completed, bring TCF, Starbucks, and 18 other shops
to the mall. All in red is new. 

     The expansion is easily possible and turn Stonecrest into the upscale mall the area deserves. I could see this turning Stonecrest into something similar to Mall of GA. The success that the mall has seen recently (record sales in 2015, strong 2016) would continue for years to come.

Upper floor of the mall. The roof architecture is really interesting here.

     After all that improvement talk, up comes the short history. Throughout the 80's and 90's, a mall was proposed in the area, with various problems slowing it down each time. Eventually, the land was cleared and the show was on the road. While the plan was massive for the area, only the mall, a library, and surrounding big-boxes were completed. A convention center and MARTA train service were planned, but are still in the proposal stage. When the mall opened, the anchors were JCP, Dillard's, Sears, Rich's, an IMAX theatre, and Parisian. The mall wasn't extremely popular in it's early life, but seemed to get better every year of existence. 

A look at the vacant Kohl's wing. On the left is a major D&B-type entertainment venue.

     The first changes came early on, but didn't really harm the mall. Rich's became Rich's-Macy's in 2003 before Macy's in 2005. Belk purchased Parisian after that in 2007. Parisian didn't become Belk (but we bring Belk to the mix in our plan), but instead a Kohl's. The year 2009 brought an "anti-teenager" policy after incidents committed by teens. The policy worked, and the incidents slowed down. In 2013, it was said that the mall was near foreclosure after debt issues. Foreclosure was avoided, yet tenants like Starbucks and The Gap left (brought back in our 2022 plan). Despite this, the mall had a career sales year in 2015. Kohl's left the mall in 2016. With 2017 came the arrivals of H&M, Victoria's Secret, and Round One Entertainment, the aforementioned venue. 

Sears and Penney's.
     I think even if only Dick's is signed, the mall's best years are ahead of it. A MARTA train line and the convention center would bring more people to the area. There is little interest of more retail in the area aside from the mall, so competition is light. Stonecrest is the acting downtown of the area, so people are already in the area often every day. Everything is seemingly in favor of the mall nowadays. It's yet to be seen if advantage will be taken of this yet.

Some more awkward photos. First one is of H&M area and actually turned out better than
the others.

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