By Collin Kelley
New retail, new restaurants, better parking and a renewed effort to make Atlantic Station a destination for Intown residents is happening now, according to Mark Toro, founder of North American Properties, which recently acquired the retail component in a joint venture with CB Richard Ellis Investors.
Toro’s vision is to transform Atlantic Station over a four-year period, but changes both “subtle and substantial” will start taking place in the coming months. Atlantic Station began a social media blitz this month, seeking input from the community on how to make Atlantic Station better. The response has been overwhelming, and Toro said he is listening.
One of the biggest issues at Atlantic Station: the labyrinthian parking structure, where visitors have complained of circling endlessly in search of an exit or trying to decide which set of stairs or escalators to take to get to their destination. As of June 1, the problem will be solved. Toro has hired the company that created wayfinding systems for the Olympics and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to “dummy-proof” the parking structure.
“There will be clear signage,” Toro promised. “It was a poorly designed system and we are going to fix it.”
Valet parking has been re-instituted and visitors are using it, Toro said, noting that 2,000 cars were parked last weekend by attendants.
On March 2, a round table with Intown’s top restaurateurs will be held to get input on what they would like to see at Atlantic Station. “We plan to open five new restaurants over the next three to four years, both white table cloth and casual,” Toro said. “We’ll be looking for local restaurants, but also regional or national concepts that resonate with our visitors.”
Toro would not confirm rumors that some of Atlantic Station’s current restaurants would be closing, such as Dolce, Geisha House, Ten Pin Alley and Fox Sports Grill, but said restaurants which have morphed into nightclubs on the weekends would “not be tolerated.” He said this nightclub atmosphere has led to more cruising and loitering and that would also become a thing of the past.
Security is being beefed up on the property to emulate Midtown Blue, with more patrols and security on the streets. “We’re going to strictly enforce a code of conduct by asking our guests to treat each other with courtesy. If not, they will be asked to leave,” Toro said.
Another round table will be held March 16 with local boutique operators on how to retool the merchandise mix at Atlantic Station. Toro noted that big anchors like Target, Publix, Dillard’s and the Regal Cinema and IMAX would remain, because they serve the Intown market and are part of the demographic Atlantic Station is trying to reach.
“If you look at the demographics, Intown is a grossly under-served retail market,” Toro said, noting that a new emphasis will be placed on serving Intown neighborhoods like Midtown, Downtown, Inman Park, Virginia Highland, Home Park and West Midtown.
Other subtle changes visitors will notice immediately are street performers, including London-style buskers performing at strategic areas around the public spaces. The popular Atlantic Station Market will continue on a new schedule to be announced soon and Toro said he will be reaching out to Intown’s performance community to get more performers on board.
Also being studied is an expanded shuttle route, which would connect West Midtown to Piedmont Park through Atlantic Station. “We’d like to see the shuttle pick up guests at all the major residential and commercial nodes in Intown,” Toro said.
Reaching out to Intown’s twentysomething demographic through social media is also a high priority. Toro said young movers and shakers in the community are being identified and their input on the evolution of Atlantic Station will be vital.
Toro said input on the future of Atlantic Station is encouraged and welcome. To make your suggestions and keep up with all the changes, visit Atlantic Station on Facebook, Twitter and the new blog, AtlanticStationCentral.org.