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Eric Weatherholtz: The Developer

Thinking outside the big box

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Ever gotten excited when a new business appears ready to open nearby, only to be disappointed when it turns out to be yet another nail salon or tax office? Eric Weatherholtz understands both of these feelings and is determined to give people what they may not have even realized they wanted.

As one of the few developers/property managers in Atlanta less interested in simply filling empty buildings than in finding just the right mix of tenants (Green Street Properties, which manages Ponce City Market, is another), Weatherholtz explains, "You have to understand who the consumer is and what the merchant's specialty is."

A veteran of retail development, the 44-year-old worked in cities around the country before coming to Atlanta, his wife's hometown, a decade ago. Healey Weatherholtz Properties, formed with partner Quill Healey, has now been in business for five years.

Currently, the firm is focused on the redevelopment of the Shops Around Lenox retail strip on the west side of the eponymous mall. They hired well-known Atlanta street artists Peter Ferrari (PLF) and Alex Brewer (Hense) to give new plaza spaces an edgier feel, and they recruited trendy boutiques such as Bill Hallman, Cosabella, Swank, and fab'rik to lure younger shoppers. But their biggest coup comes this spring when Crate & Barrel moves out of its longtime mall location into the anchor spot once occupied by Tower Records.

Within the next month, Weatherholtz is looking to announce three brand-new eateries for SAL. The only hint he'll give is that they'll be "foodie-oriented, destination restaurants" featuring up-and-coming chefs, rather than the usual food-court suspects.

A longer-term project could be even more exciting: creating a new retail and restaurant complex on eight acres at the southwest corner of Howell Mill and Collier roads. "That area has long been underserved for food and beverage and shopping," he explains, adding that he plans to reconfigure the curb cuts to improve traffic flow at the now-gridlocked intersection. Future tenants could be announced later in 2012. Don't bet on more nail salons.

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