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Shannon Mall site to become industrial park

1:57 PM, Feb 20, 2014   |    comments
(Atlanta Business Chronicle)
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UNION CITY, Ga. -- For some troubled suburban malls, there may be no comeback story.

Atlanta-based developer Rooker has decided to take the former Shannon Mall site in Union City and turn it into an industrial park.

Rooker just acquired the 90-acre property. It plans to redevelop the mall into a 1.2 million-square-foot hub for warehouses and distribution centers. The goal is to target consumer products and e-commerce companies to anchor the project.

Others have tried to reinvent the property before, though not as an industrial site.

In 2004, real estate mogul and reality television star Lee Najjar bought the mall and tried to bring in new retailers to revive it. Those efforts failed, and ultimately the mall closed in November 2010.

The property reflects a shift in retail development.

Developers have moved away from enclosed malls in favor of open-air shopping centers dotted with parks and outdoor cafes. As e-commerce sales rise, retailers must provide more compelling experiences to get shoppers out from behind the keyboards.

Plus, many older malls have suffered when newer ones were built nearby.

That was the case for Gwinnett Place Mall, which enjoyed a heyday when it was the only mall in Gwinnett during the '80s and '90s. But it began to decline when Mall of Georgia and Discover Mills (now Sugarloaf Mills) were built.

Gwinnett Place fell into foreclosure in 2012 and was acquired last fall by Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC.

Rooker could establish a new trend in re-purposing dead malls.

It sees the land as better suited for industrial uses due to the companies that have recently established manufacturing or distribution centers in Union City. For example, Kraft Foods opened a $60 million, 1 million-square-foot distribution center there.

"We're very excited about the opportunity for redevelopment and job creation at the former site of Shannon Mall, which is one of hundreds of regional malls that have closed across the country during the recession," John Rooker, CEO of Rooker, said in a statement. "This strategically located site, which is adjacent to I-85 and less than 10 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, represents a prime opportunity for national and global companies to establish business operations."

Union City Mayor Vince Williams called Rooker's purchase a "monumental win" for the area.

"A vacant piece of property will be back in business, on the tax rolls and generating revenue," Williams said in a statement. "We welcome Rooker with open arms and are grateful for their partnership."

(Atlanta Business Chronicle)

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