Could movie theater relocation sink Alpharetta’s Mansell Road?

In the next two years both of Alpharetta’s movie theaters along North Point Parkway are likely to relocate. The result could leave gaping retail holes along the city’s southern-most corridor.

The first to go will be AMC at Mansell Crossing. The chain is building a new theater up the street in the former Parisian anchor space at North Point Mall. It’s expected to open this fall.

While the chain hasn’t formally announced the closure of the Mansell Crossing location, it certainly wouldn’t make sense to operate two theaters in such proximity. The Mansell Crossing theater space measures 51,000 square feet.

Adjacent to AMC Mansell Crossing is a Barnes and Noble book store.The book store benefits from theater foot traffic. It’s a great place to kill time before a movie starts. This customer base simply isn’t there when the theater moves up the street.

The retail book business isn’t doing well. Barnes and Noble announced recently that they would close 200 retail locations over the next decade. Might this Alpharetta location make that list? The store here measures 25,000 square feet.

Regal theaters is building at the Avalon project on Old Milton Parkway. Their small eight screen theater on North Point will close once that move happens. That leaves 34,000 square feet vacant.

Two large spaces are already vacant along Mansell Road. The former Home Depot Expo Design Center, across GA-400 next to Sam’s Club, has sat empty for years. It measures in at a massive 87,000 square feet.

Also vacant is the old Champps Americana restaurant space. This 10,000 square foot restaurant is fully equipped yet the broker marketing the place can’t seem to find a tenant.

That’s over 200,000 square feet of retail space that could go vacant along or near Mansell Road over the next two years. It’s an alarming statistic that should keep political and business leaders up at night. Could the rash of vacancies cause a closure domino effect? Might Mansell’s restaurant row be next?

What incentives should the city consider to attract new business to this area? And there are uses that might work in these enormous vacant spaces? Leave me a comment!

Photo credit: Alonzo Jeter

18 Responses to “Could movie theater relocation sink Alpharetta’s Mansell Road?”

  1. UniBaller June 13, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Lee:
    I totally agree with your comments. I–too–worry about Mansell’s restaurant row. One good thing–though–is that the AMLI apartment complex there should bring in a population to keep the restaurants goin’. But those theaters sitting empty are worrisome.

  2. Mike H June 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    After going to a gun show in Marietta that was held in a closed down Home Depot (and that makes the gun show held in Cumming seem puny by comparison), I have always been surprised that they haven’t turned the old Home Depot Expo into a location for shows and exhibits to be held.

  3. John June 14, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Mansell/North Point will be a fantastic redevelopment opportunity. Time to re-plan and re-direct the area now before it turns into a ghost town for 5 years like Alpharetta Highway did when all the car dealerships shut down and repositioned. It is too good of a location, you have the greenway, good schools etc.

  4. Glen June 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Mike H. That is an awesome idea, but it will conflict with the talked about Convention center by Avalon or Northwinds.

  5. Travis Allen June 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    I always thought the AMC/B&N lot would make a great location for a Cabelas store to make their move into the Southeast market. They were planning to open a store in Adairsville several years back, but that fell through with the economic environment.

    They are now finally making a foray into the region by building a store in Greenville, SC. Maybe Alpharetta’s city council should make a play for them. It would create jobs and would save people a trip all the way out to Sugarloaf Mills.

  6. J June 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Cabelas is a great store and would do very well by North Point.

  7. Tim June 15, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    How about an indoor game arcade with laser tag for kids.

  8. Parker June 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    This will be the new normal. Just the other day there was another announcement about the latest tenants for the Avalon project. Avalon’s rise is the North Point/Mansell area’s decline.

  9. SCSA31274 June 16, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    North Point Parkway is the direct opposite of what the city wants to project downtown. It’s just not the cool place to be anymore. Gigantic strip malls with all the same stores and all the same open spaces that plague every other same type of space be it Gwinnett Place, Town Center, or Perimeter. Shopping just isn’t like it was before thanks to Amazon, etc. Movie theaters are the only viable options over there. And they need support from other bars and restaurants like the one at the Avenue. People love to do things before and after the movie. Barnes and Noble was that thing for the AMC, but the Regal didn’t really have that. That AMC has been there over 20 years. It needs a refresh. Theater tech has changed lightyears in that period of time. Tear it all down and put something there that will attract folks. Something that maybe would draw folks to walk over from the restaurants across Mansell. Some sort of entertainment complex or nightclubs/bars/coffee/desert places. I always want the things I can’t have. I want a casino. It’s a great idea, a money maker, and dammit it’s fun. The Cabellas/Bass Pro is a good idea, but maybe that goes where the Home Depot Expo was.

  10. Travis Allen June 16, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    Over 20 years? Not quite, but getting there. The mall opened in October 1993.

    The Regal did have more things to attract before/after movie goers back when it first opened. There was a Media Play where Dick’s is now and a popular Coffee Shop, Point Cafe.

    Can’t see a Cabelas going in at the Home Expo location, too small and not visible enough. Also, not exactly an easy location to get boats in / out of.

  11. Greg June 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Cabelas would be great, but they would rather be in a location off I-75 or I-85. That would enable them to get regional/tourist traffic, as opposed to just local traffic.

    As the economy improves, I could see Alpharetta rezoning the AMC/B&N land to allow an office building.

    Travis, I remember Point Cafe. I never understood why they closed.

  12. Travis Allen June 18, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I don’t recall exactly why Point Cafe closed, but I do remember some sort of lawsuit involving a $1 Million Coke bottle-cap.

    Something about who the cap truly belonged to after the first employee left the bottle without checking, a second employee through the bottle in the trash, again without checking, then the owner took the bottle out of the trash and found that the cap was worth a million bucks. The first employee sued the owner if I’m remembering correctly.

  13. Baker June 18, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Very sad, although the image of a million trees cut down & nothing but bare dirt to make room for a now dying mall will be forever burned in my brain. I saw FernGully at a very impressionable age.

    I remember that theater opening. I saw many a movie there. The B&N too. And it’ll definitely close. No way they can keep it open without the theater.

  14. Eli June 18, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    My opinion and menory are likely not as good as residents of the area but I have made my fair share of trips to North Point Mall and the surrounding area. That being said, I agree the potential loss of both theaters would be big, and agree the AMC closure would hurt B&N. I will say, having worked for Regal for nearly 2 years and with friends at the NP AMC, it remains not 100% sure for either, if they will in fact close their older locations once the new, theaters open. The possibility exists that one or both could morph into art house theaters, something that the North Point area is without. By arthouse, I’m referring to Lefont (Sandy Springs) or TARA/Regal (Lindbergh)

    Cabela’s presents an intriguing possibility as they have expressed interest in metro Atlanta and I think the North Point area would be a great market for them. Rather than take the chance on the unproven Avalon other new build, they could build or convert a store around North Point and take advantage of existing traffic and visibility. Kennesaw, if space was available would also likely be a target market.

    I was recently contacted by the leasing manager at North Point and was told they have plenty of new leases in the works and am hopeful that their talk comes to fruition. I for one would have to see North Point become the next Gwinnett Place Mall.

  15. Alpha Tater June 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Things we drive to visit…
    -Bass Pro Shops, so Cabelas is a very interesting idea
    -REI destination store, like Seattle’s main store. They include bike test tracks, etc. Would draw people for miles. (Perimeter store is tiny comparatively)
    -Dave & Busters. Andretti’s is close so maybe not.
    -Tractor Supply. Hey, why not? Alpharetta is semi-rural and hick is chic!
    -Burlington Coat Factory (ha) or maybe Kmart (HAHA)
    -Amazon.com bricks & mortar testbed
    -google server farm with drive thru car-wash using recycled water. (think green)

    These things usually turn into dollar theaters before dying a slow death. The Regal seems perfectly fit for being this, since it is a smaller format. I don’t know of any dollar theaters in the area.

  16. JP June 19, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Personally, I’d love to see a nice gym open up somewhere at North Point. I’ve noticed LA Fitness has been opening up at/near shopping malls. As someone who has lived near North Point for 17 years, I’ve always wished there were three things between my home and GA 400 (my commute to and from work):

    1. Quick Trip (gas and coffee)
    2. Nice grocery store
    3. Full service gym (complete with showers, etc)

    My 2 cents!

  17. Sara W June 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    How About a hobby store? I remember the Hobbytown USA at Town center is made from a theater. They blew out a few walls and converted each theater space to be a specialty area/room for each hobby. I know its not the prettiest, nor attracts the high spenders, but it can pair well with the B&N next door and create a more diverse a flow of people in the north point area while it transitions from #1 to #2.

    Also I’m not an expert on hospitality nor development, but I wonder why isn’t the Old Champs location an event space to rent? It’s got a kitchen and separate DJ area, decent finishes, it is close to the highway. Maybe someone is too greedy or too picky about a new tenant verses having it earning something.

  18. Irv Haas October 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    I spoke to the manager at AMC Mansell Crossing about a month ago who said that the plans were that Mansell would close and reopen as a dinner theater. (Restaurant row?) Of course, this is all subject to change.

    This is in addition to the new AMC North Point theater to open in November.

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