With the addition of a mixed-use development, the metamorphosis of Phipps Plaza continues.

“I’m extremely excited. Our company is extremely excited,” John Rulli, malls president and chief administrative officer for Simon, the Indianapolis-based company that owns the Buckhead mall. “We’ve had a vision for Phipps for a number of years and have done a lot of work here with the renovation. We’ve added the AC Hotel, the Domain residences (both opened in 2016). We’ve been kind of creating more mixed use here.”

Simon and Nobu reps Nov. 14 announced plans for a mixed-use project that will include a new Nobu Hotel and Nobu Atlanta Restaurant, a 90,000-square-foot Life Time Athletic center and a 12-story Class A office building, that will include a three-story, lower-level parking deck.

It will replace Belk, which is closing this spring/summer, when demolition and then construction will begin. Patrick Peterman, Simon’s vice president for development and asset intensification, said the project site is six acres and Phipps is 22 acres total. The new development will open in phases starting in spring 2020.

The new development comes after the 166-room AC Hotel and the 319-unit Domain opened next to Phipps. Nobu Hotels, which has offices across the U.S. and in London, is a luxury brand founded by Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper. Its Phipps hotel will have 150 rooms, a rooftop pool, corporate conference space and spa facilities. Nobu’s restaurant, which will specialize in new-style Japanese cuisine, will occupy 10,000 square feet of space.

Nobu CEO Trevor Horwell said the company has 40 restaurants worldwide, and its Phipps hotel will be its 16th. There are seven hotels already open and the rest are in the construction or planning phases, he said.

“(I’m) very excited because actually we’ve been looking at Atlanta now for the last 10 years,” Horwell said. “We’ve been asked to come here by many people, many locals, but they wanted us to come and (just) do a restaurant. … We said, ‘Look, if we’re going to come to Atlanta, it has to be part of a hotel/restaurant development.

“What appealed to us more than anything was the fact that we’ve also extended the brand into more mixed-use developments. We’re doing it a huge mixed-use development in Toronto, (also in) Sao Paulo, Los Cabos, and when the Simon group came to us and said they wanted to do a full transformation of Phipps Plaza and we love what’s going to happen with their vision of what they want to do.”

Other than Belk, no other part of Phipps, including its parking decks, will be affected by the new project’s construction, Rulli said.

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said that organization is partnering with Simon to promote/market the new development.

“You add as much mixed uses to Phipps Plaza as the multimillions of dollars being spent, but (you are) also adding a new lifestyle to the community with all these different purposes – the hotel, the offices, the entertainment, the open space,” he said. “It’s staring the doomsayers in the eye saying malls around the country are not making it. They’re proving indeed you can.”

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