Eleven new tenants signed leases at Avalon during the pandemic. Give me your evaluation of the different ways retail chains began looking at their store portfolios last year.
They were essentially looking at their sales per square foot and what the sales per square foot were in Avalon. One of our stores was actually on pace with 2019 and doing about $2,000 per square foot. Two of our restaurants were on pace with ’19--though the average at our restaurants was down 25%. The reason we saw so much leasing activity last year was that the retailers who sat on the sidelines during the first generation at Avalon concluded that this is where they needed to be to do big sales.
Brookfield gave North Point Mall in Alpharetta back to its lenders, who’ve hired Trademark to turn it into a mixed-use center. Did the arrival of Avalon change the game for retail centers in the Atlanta Metro before COVID-19 arrived?
There are a number of retail brands that became less relevant before COVID arrived. Brooks Brothers closed here and their replacement is a big win for Avalon. We are seeing tenants that are first-to-market in this metro come to Avalon. It used to be you had to go to Lenox Square. At first, True Food Kitchen went to Lenox Square, then they came here and are now doing better here than they are in Buckhead. Nationals and locals now know this is the place to be in Atlanta. Chanel Beauty opened one of the region’s first locations at Avalon. Those are the types of brands we’re getting interest from.
What are some of your plans for 2021?
We entered into a joint venture to acquire Birkdale Village in Huntersville, North Carolina, with Nuveen. It’s a mixed-use property smaller in scale than Avalon, but similar in design. Has great bones but lacks The Avalon Experience. A lot of what we provide in that experience is about operational excellence. We’ll do 100 events there in the first year, adding concierge and valet. At Avalon, we do 200 events a year and engage our community with services akin to a five-star resort.