Sep 29, 2015 - News

Huge Atherton Mill overhaul will finally bring the retail we need to South End



For as long as I have lived here people have complained about the lack of retail in uptown. And I couldn’t agree more. There might as well be none. Sure, there are some great local boutiques scattered throughout uptown and South End – but this is a time when major brands aren’t such a bad thing.

When I think about other cities of our size in the United States most have retail downtown. Most have some semblance of big box store shopping in their city center. Yet here we are, with virtually none. To me, it’s the last major gap we have as a city.

After what has seemed like an eternity with no hope in sight, it seems our cries have been heard and are finally being addressed.

What is it?

Edens is planning a major overhaul to the Atherton Mill area and parking lot. And when I say major, I’m talking “Guys, this is more than just my usual ‘This is a big deal’ song and dance” … this really is a HUGE deal. Think something along the lines of a mini Birkdale Village and you’ll get an idea.

These are preliminary details. None of these numbers are final and can change between now and the completion of the project. However the initial design calls for:

  • 64,500 square feet of new retail
  • 440 residential units
  • 700+ retail parking spots
  • 6 retail spaces overall (9,000 square feet; 20,000 square feet; 4,500 square feet; 6,000 square feet; 13,000 square feet; 12,000 square feet)
  • 150,000 square feet of office
  • 5 level parking garage

All that on top of the existing 49,000-square-foot retail building (the one with Luna’s and Anthropologie).

It is also worth noting that the historic buildings will be saved and not torn down (Atherton Mill and Atherton Lofts). However, not everything is being spared, as it is likely the Yadkin Bank, By Design, Bonez, PureBody, and Atherton Market are goners. The market will likely find a new home in this project so not to fear there.

Overall this is an approximately $100 million investment by Edens and it is looking at a 2017-2018 completion.

inspiration-atherton development

Why do you care?

Retail. Retail. Retail. This is incredibly transformative in the sense that it creates a true retail hub in the uptown area. With easy access to transit and a centralized location, this project will be the start to many retail projects to follow.

With Camden developing itself into quite the stroll district, this project will anchor Camden and allow the entire area to be immersive for pedestrians.

(Note: below are photos that are inspiring the development, they are not renderings/plans for the final designs).

When can you use it?

No timeline is set as the project is still in planning stages. Marketing materials state 2017, however I feel it could easily spill into 2018.

Edens has quite a project on their hands here. It will likely be a catalyst for major retail in South End and uptown alike. I absolutely love their vision and their care for the pedestrian level of the project.

Edens seems to be doing what a lot of developers aren’t: incorporating creative design, while also activating the street, creating pedestrian activity and producing an environment where one can do just about everything. Kudos.

(Photo credit: Edens)


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