28 April 2013

Phipps Plaza, Atlanta, GA

An extant asset

6 April 2024

Atlanta, the de facto capital of the South, is quite the surprising place. Sure, there's as much Scarlet O'Hara and NASCAR as everyone expects, but there's also the world's busiest airport, the deep south's only heavy rail subway system, a vibrant nightlife scene and Phipps Plaza.

1- Lord and Taylor and the mall's main entrance facing Peachtree Road. 2- Saks Fifth Avenue, the mall's oldest extant anchor.

Located in the fashionable Buckhead district to the north of downtown, Phipps Plaza is perhaps overshadowed by the pure scope and size of its neighbor, Lenox Square. I myself always preferred Lenox simply because just walking into the warm wooden and marble confines of Phipps always made me feel so poor. And this place had a Saks, a Lord and Taylor, and, in my opinion, one of the most uppity of them all, Parisian.

Phipps Plaza Mallmanac ca. 2003. View the full PDF version here.

When working for Delta Air Lines, I was no longer a poor college student, so I regularly flew using my benefits from Huntsville to Atlanta, hopped on MARTA, and rode the Gold Line up to Buckhead just to do some shopping. When living in a place like Alabama, where Macy's is considered upmarket, it was nice to browse stores like Kenneth Cole and Armani.

1- Parisian mall entrance. 2- The Center Court steps.

Phipps Plaza opened in 1969 as Atlanta's first double-tiered mall. It was your basic sixties dumbbell shaped center with competing anchors at each end. It opened just over a decade after its nearby sister mall, aiming to complement the more mid-market Lennox by offering a much more upscale selection of stores and merchandise. An additional wing with a third level and new Parisian store were added in 1992.  The facility retains this footprint to the present day.

-UPDATE- Phipps Plaza lease plan ca. 2011. View the full PDF version here.

It seems that Phipps Plaza remains the standard for luxury shopping in the south. Whenever other centers open in nearby cities offering just a sampling of the upper market stores that Phipps has, such as The Mall at Green Hills in Nashville or Parkway Place in Huntsville, the locals tend to nickname those places something to the tune of Little or Mini Phipps.

Nordstrom took over the Lord and Taylor store in 2005 when the latter retailer retrenched into the Northeast, while Belk took over the Parisian space just two years later with a buyout of the entire chain. Belk, in order to appease both the mall's owners and patrons, opened the new outlet as a flagship after protests of their store's being too middle brow for the center. As they say, money talks. And the way it is now, it seems that Phipps will have a lot to say for many more years.


6 April 2024

Phipps Plaza has endured much of the past decade without skipping a beat.  The “controversial” Belk location was shuttered in 2018, which the owners of the complex, Simon, saw as an opportunity to up the center’s reputation as the exclusive retail destination in metro Atlanta.  A luxury hotel, office space and an additional 120,000 square feet of commercial space were to be built in the store’s place.

Phipps Plaza lease plan ca. 2021. View the full PDF version here.

The Nobu Hotel, a work of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, offers 150 rooms and fine dining while the Life Time area provides square footage dedicated to both healthy living and career needs.  The new food hall, called Citizen’s Market, affords more upmarket fare within an elegant, shared atmosphere.  With these additions and more, it seems as though Phipps Plaza still finds much success in its niche and probably will for a long time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks!Here is a link to an old picture of Phipps.