The Atlanta Braves are in talks to bring national chains such as L.L. Bean and Athleta and hip local restaurants including Antico Pizza Napoletana and Chef Ford Fry’s Superica to the walkable mixed-use project outside the new SunTrust Park.
The stores and eateries could create in the Cumberland-Galleria area the shopping and dining district the Braves longed for, but never achieved, at downtown’s Turner Field. And it marks a new opportunity for the Braves to pour revenues from the mixed-use project back into operations, money that could go toward an expanded payroll and a more competitive team.
The Braves expect to announce the first round of shops and restaurants for SunTrust Park in the next 30 to 60 days. The team also plans to unveil a name for the mixed-use development to brand it as a unique destination in the Southeast. The ballpark is set to open in 2017.
The Braves are in early talks with several trendy Atlanta concepts, including Octane Coffee, Fado Irish Pub, Fry’s Superica, Fifth Group Restaurants, Soluper Jenny and Antico Pizza, according to market sources. The Braves could not confirm they were in lease negotiations, but spoke broadly about the mix of potential tenants.
“They are authentic,” said Derek Schiller, the Braves’ executive vice president of sales and marketing. “They represent the area in which the development is taking place and the interests of the particular region.”
The Braves also have existing relationships with top local chefs Kevin Rathbun and Linton Hopkins, so the team could look to bring new locations of their coveted concepts.
Other restaurants being eyed for the project may include Dallas-based CRU Food & Wine Bar, Memphis-based Gus’s Fried Chicken, New York City-based Shake Shack Inc., and Asheville, N.C.-based Indian food restaurant Chai PAni.
As for shops, the Braves are said to be in talks with popular national retailers L.L. Bean and Athleta. Field & Stream, an outdoor retailer owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., may also be a target.
Retro bowling and dining venue Kings Bowl, among other competitors, is considering its first metro Atlanta location at the project It could sit near the reborn The Roxy Theatre, a 53,000-square-foot entertainment venue that will be operated by Live Nation and will feature 40 music or comedy shows a year.
The Braves declined comment about those tenants. There could be more retailers int he works.
Atlanta’s Fuqua Development LLC is developing the retail portion of the project, which will include 350,000 square feet and 15 to 20 restaurants. An organic grocery store is also planned.
The hope is to create a development that draws people every day, not only during home games.
The Braves drew inspiration from projects that blend shopping and entertainment such as Clarendon Center in Arlington, Va., and L.A. Live and The Grove in Los Angeles, Calif.
Already announced for hte mixed-use project at SunTrust Park is a new hotel from Omnio Hotels & Resorts, a nine-story office tower anchored by Comcast Corp. and a new Chop House led by Coors Light.
The Braves seem to hit perfect timing with their leasing efforts as national retailers are once again expanding and Atlanta’s culinary scene is erupting with new openings. Many popular Atlanta chefs are now eyeing affluent suburbs as intown neighborhoods have become crowded with local talent.
“The recent activity is intense,” said Jeff Fuqua, who leads Fuqua Development with Heather Correa. He declined to comment on specific tenants coming to the mixed-use project at SunTrust Park.
“We feel very fortunate about how the economy is going now,” Schiller added. “There has been certainly an advantage in the restaurant culture in Atlanta that has made things very aggressive for what we want to do. We could probably fill the entire square footage with restaurants alone.”
Some retail experts see the blend of national and local retailers as right on target. “I think it’s fantastic they’ve focused on bringing local brands to help build consumer recognition,” said Emil Gullia, senior director at Franklin Street of Atlanta. “It’s a brilliant move.”