Friday, January 9, 2009

History of Dunwoody's Perimeter Mall

Perimeter Mall, is located in the wealthy north-suburban Atlanta community of Dunwoody, GA. Opened in 1971, Perimeter Mall debuted as the fourth mall in DeKalb County, and the seventh mall in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Nearly four decades later, Perimeter Mall is one of metro Atlanta’s best shopping venues and offers the most upscale store roster of any mall outside Buckhead. Located just a few miles north of Buckhead and Midtown Atlanta, Perimeter Mall draws from a large area of the northern metro, from Roswell to Sandy Springs and into northern Dekalb County, and is the anchor to an area of office complexes, retail, and hotels located around the interchange of GA 400 and I-285.

Ostensibly named after the 64 mile long Interstate 285 which circumscribes Atlanta’s perimeter, and at one time was the edge of Atlanta’s suburban extent, Perimeter Mall opened with only two anchors, Rich’s and JCPenney, in a dumbbell style layout with an enclosed corridor of shops connecting them. Throughout the 1970s, Perimeter Mall was very similar in design to another Atlanta mall, Greenbriar Mall, which is located in southwest Atlanta some 25 miles away; however, changing fortunes for both areas in the decades following caused the malls to become less similar as time went on.

In 1982, the two-level Perimeter Mall was dramatically expanded to its current T-shape when a new northwest wing was added, ending at Atlanta-based anchor store Davison’s, which became Macy’s in 1986. A new food court was also added along this wing, and the wing nearly doubled the size of the mall at the time.

Unfortunately, a terrible tragedy occurred at Perimeter Mall in 1990, as James Calvin Brady, a mental hospital patient, opened fire in the mall’s food court at lunch time, killing one person and injuring four.

To keep up with newer competition like the large and successful North Point Mall which opened in 1993, Perimeter Mall was renovated several times from 1993-2000, and expanded once again in 1998. Throughout this period numerous anchor changes also occurred, shifting every anchor from its original place and introducing three new ones. A MARTA rail station also opened just in time for the Olympics in 1996 in the southwest parking lot, providing rail access from downtown Atlanta, Buckhead, and all other MARTA stations.

In 1998, Nordstrom opened their first Georgia store next to Macy’s in the northwest wing, adding a short stub wing and several more stores in the process. In addition, JCPenney closed in 2000 and its building was demolished and reconstructed for Dillards, which opened in 2005. Also, the Rich’s became Rich’s-Macy’s in 2003, and was converted to just Macy’s by 2005; meanwhile, the original Macy’s in the newer wing, which was originally Davison’s prior to 1986, closed in 2003 and reopened the same year as a Bloomingdales. Got all that? The opening of Bloomingdales was part of its entry into the Atlanta market, as Macys decided to introduce the Bloomingdales nameplate to two Atlanta malls rather than sell the anchors due to the Rich’s consolidation. Both Perimeter Mall and Buckhead’s Lenox Square, where Bloomingdales also opened in 2003, were considered because of their demographics as both malls serve some of the wealthiest zip codes in the Atlanta area.

One of the more recent renovations also brought a streetscape facade to the Ashford-Dunwoody Road-facing exterior, bringing new destination restaurants and outward-facing retail, a popular trend in malls these days, to Perimeter Mall.

Today, Perimeter Mall has a solid foothold in the wealthy northern Atlanta market, surviving despite an onslaught of malls and lifestyle centers which have opened since 1990 throughout the metro area, like the nearby North Point Mall in Alpharetta which opened in 1993. Also, Perimeter Mall is only several miles north of metro Atlanta’s best malls, Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square, which are co-located in Buckhead across the street from one another. Perimeter Mall’s upscale and innovative roster of stores continues to woo Atlanta consumers, as recently the Yoforia chain, serving the latest big trend of frozen yogurt (a la Pinkberry and Red Mango) chose Perimeter as its first mall location. Perimeter Mall is the anchor of large retail complexes, office buildings and hotels near the interchange of GA 400 and I-285, and will continue to thrive in the near future unless GGP’s financial woes force its closure.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Perimeter Mall is not quite up to par with Northpoint. I think other Dunwoody citizens would agree as I run into more people I know at Northpoint than I do Perimeter.

Oh, and Northpoint is considered upscale even though it houses a JC Penney store.

DunwoodyTalk said...

I hate that mall's valet parking up front. They took hundreds of 'free' spots and vonverted them to valet or self-pay. I always go to Northpoint just for this reason

SUPERAWESOME AKA Very Bad Tacos! said...

Northpoint > Perimeter??? PFFFT, whatever... go back to silly town Ms. Richy Rich pants! There's no room in our AWESOME city for you to be peddling your crazy talk!

John Heneghan forged the bricks used to build Perimeter Mall when he was a child! Invoking the power of Earth, Fire and Water, while dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire, John Heneghan selflessly crafted the foundation of our fair city BRICK BY BRICK! His vision of an AWESOME food court finally came to fruition, and without that super Kigass food court at Perimeter Mall, most of us would agree that there would be NO city of Dunwoody... EVER!

So why don't you silly little JC Penny Shopping, Non-chauffeur parking, whiney pant wearers head up north to your loser mall, We don't need you down here in coolville!

J.T. said...

I'm the author of a blog entitled Sky City: Southern Retail Then and Now and have a huge collection of photos of malls all over Atlanta...including Perimeter. Some of my photos include the Rich's prior to the changeover. I have yet to publish those photos or a piece on Perimeter Mall. The guys at Labelscar beat me to it :)

I was wondering if anybody has any historic photos of Perimeter. I was there all the time as a child and I remember it when it was darker, full of trees and fountains. A photo was recently posted on a friend of mine's blog (Live Malls) of the Davison's mall entrance at the mall from 1983.

Unknown said...

John- I grew up in Atlanta and am trying to remember the name of the restaurant that used to be on the bottom level of Perimeter Mall where H&M is right now. For the life of me, I can't was a chain of some sort resembling a TGI Friday's. Do you happen to remember?

Unknown said...

Does anyone remember the name of that great casual restaurant that was in the front middle part of the mall on the lower level. The food was great and their signature dessert was warm apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. HELP!