As Atlanta Fitness and Ace Hardware celebrate their grand openings Saturday, the Windermere community is welcoming closer retail options.
The two retailers are the first of about 13 tenants expected at the new Windermere Village, near the entrance of the community.
A Roberts Commercial Real Estate Services project, the 100,000-square-foot retail center is the first of three phases.
Paul Aase, director of acquisitions for Roberts, said the 34-acre project will be about a $22 million investment. The next two phases call for additional retail and office space.
But before those begin, Aase said, the company is recruiting three restaurants and filling the other spaces.
“I know that will be a big boost because the immediate area is starved for those restaurants,” Aase said. “We’re also trying to work with a sporting goods-type location. All these surrounding communities are big tennis and golf communities.”
The village is near five upscale subdivisions where, according to Roberts’ research, the average annual income of tops $150,000. More than 20,000 vehicles a day pass through the area, which previously did not have any retail or office space.
Aase didn’t need to read the studies to know the market.
“I live in that community. I’ll be going there,” he said. “So not only am I one of the developers, I’m also one of the customers. I’ve already been to Ace ... four times.”
From the outside, the center sports a mixed-use design, with the appearance of second-story lofts. But while there is an option to create a two-story restaurant or shop, Aase said, “believe it or not, none of it is two story.”
“The whole idea is that it resembles a walkable village,” he said. “And I think we pulled that off, because a lot of people have asked what’s going on the second floor.”
The current economic conditions have been difficult on retailers, resulting in conservative spending and cutbacks on expansion. But Aase said the Windermere Village began nearly three years ago. By the time the economy took a downward turn, it was too late to turn back.
“Obviously, the economy is a concern,” he said. “However, I will say that what we’re seeing in the economy ... is the leasing activity is starting to pick up. It’s primarily local and regional tenants, not the national tenants.
“Once the buildings were up and people saw what it was and saw the quality of what it is, our leasing activity has picked up dramatically. I think we’ll be at stabilization within the next nine to 12 months.”
James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the project bodes well for the future of Windermere, one of the county’s largest, high quality and tight-knit communities.
“And I think a lot of those folks are going to enjoy the amenities that are provided,” he said. “This certainly will be an area for growth and [Roberts] is certainly wise to have what they have where they have it.”
Windermere Village will celebrate its grand opening from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Front Nine Drive and Windermere Parkway.