ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The highly anticipated Phase II of Avalon opened its doors April 13 to a cheering crowd and champagne toast.
Dubbed Boulevard East, this expansion adds 1,000 new jobs, 350 residents and 20 stores and restaurants to the Alpharetta community.
New retailers include Brooks Brothers, Urban Outfitters, Scout & Molly’s, Levi’s, Williams Sonoma, Hammer Made, Boogaloos, Lucky Brand, Pottery Barn, South Moon Under, Apple and Boardroom Salon for Men.
New restaurants include Barleygarden Kitchen and Craft Bar, District III, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Chick-Fil-A, Rumi’s Kitchen, MF Bar and Brine Seafood Shack.
Two of the most talked about additions include Apple’s new nearly 8,000-square-foot freestanding building, which is next door to Microsoft’s 43,000-square-foot office building.
Future projects include a 331-room hotel with conference center, in partnership with the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is slated to open the first quarter of 2018.
The “Father of Avalon” and North American Properties Developer Mark Toro also hinted that he’d like to conclude construction with a MARTA station.
Toro said State Sen. Brandon Beach has been a longtime advocate of both Avalon and bringing MARTA to North Fulton.
“Let me tell you as a state senator, we will invest infrastructure when it has a return on investment like this with jobs,” Beach said. “I told Mark when he was going to build this, that it would be iconic and transformational. I think we all agree this is iconic and transformational.”
To continue being a groundbreaking community, more transit options need to become available, Beach said.
“As upsetting as the I-85 bridge collapse was, and thank God nobody was hurt, MARTA is up 60 percent and their on-time rates are at 96 percent currently since that tragedy,” Beach said. “It is getting people on transit.”
Beach said he’s never been more proud of the Georgia Department of Transportation, MARTA and Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, or GRTA, for coming together, creating a plan to move people in the city and get people where they need to go.
“I think by taking MARTA or GRTA, people will learn to like transit and think of it as a viable option,” Beach said. “We need it here. It’s an economic development issue. I will continue to fight for transit in North Fulton as long as I’m your state senator.”
But for now, this addition adds on to Avalon’s 86-acres, which opened October 2014. But don’t say the development is another shopping mall, according to Matt Simon, vice president of operations for North American Properties.
“It could’ve been a shopping complex, office tower or residential community,” Simon said. “Avalon is all of that, and yet it is none of that. Where we stand today is where an entire region comes together to live, work and thrive. Families and friends come together to celebrate life events.”
And without Toro’s vision, Avalon would not exist.
“We are ecstatic and over the moon,” Toro said. “The freedom we feel today after spending the last five years executing this vision is phenomenal.”
A partnership with the city of Alpharetta also played a major part in the development’s creation.
“When we were going to acquire this property out of foreclosure, we had no clue what we were doing,” Toro said. “We thought we were going to create a lifestyle center, retail and whatever else. But we took the opportunity to tour best-in-class, mixed-use properties around the U.S. and brought back a number of ideas primarily from the West Coast.”
But Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle said sometimes in order to believe something, you have to see it, no matter how great it sounds.
“When we close our eyes and think of Alpharetta and what it could and should be, we start to tell the story of what Alpharetta is and we talk about being the technology city of the South,” Belle Isle said. “Sometimes you have to see something to believe something. So when we share the vision of Alpharetta, that’s what Avalon is and we show them this here. This is the downtown for all of North Fulton and South Forsyth. This is the beacon of showing where our story is.”