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Cover Story: Atlantic Station wants your money

Hopes are high that the Georgia Aquarium and the newly expanded High Museum will became hugely popular tourist attractions, but we all know that the real reason many visitors come to Atlanta is to shop. Beginning Oct. 20, tourists and locals alike will have even more options for running up their credit card debts when Atlantic Station opens.

Atlanta's newest "urban village" is being touted as a shopping mecca. Anchored by the mammoth IKEA furniture store, it will feature about 20 freestanding national retail stores including Banana Republic, Pier 1 Imports, American Eagle Outfitters, Victoria's Secret, DSW, Old Navy, Gap, Guess?, Metropolitan Deluxe, West Elm and Z Gallerie, among others.

Although shopping will certainly be the big draw, it won't be the Station's only attraction. Atlantic Station will be home to a two-story, 16-screen, 4,000-seat Regal Cinema, something intown fans of Hollywood blockbusters who've had to drive OTP for their fix will surely welcome.

In addition, the neophyte mixed-use neighborhood will be home to a gang of restaurants. Fast-casual eateries such as Mama Fu's Noodle House, Doc Green's and Moe's Southwest Grill, for example, will sprout new locations between Atlantic Drive and West Avenue. Other well-known brands, including California Pizza Kitchen and the New Orleans-flared Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro, will also be on hand. PJ's Coffee and Wine Bar — a gourmet coffee house and wine retailer — will set up shop at the corner of 19th and Market streets, marking the franchise's first endeavor in the metro Atlanta area.

Looking for some of those unique, original restaurants that make 'hoods like L5P and the Virginia-Highland cool? At least one untested venture will put down roots at the Station. Tom Catherall, the man behind Twist, Noche and Shout, will unveil his latest dining creation, Strip, a steak and sushi restaurant, on 19th Street. Folks searching for more one-of-a-kind spots will just have to wait.

"It's not uncommon to have national restaurateurs sign leases first and have the more local and regional players sign on later," says Brian Leary, vice president of design and development at Atlantic Station. "We are currently in discussions with a number of Atlanta-based restaurateurs and should have more announcements in the next 90 days."

Beyond restaurants, Atlantic Station will serve up opportunities to play billiards, smoke cigars and watch sporting events at the FOX Sports Grill (the sports bar's first location in the Southeast). And in the residential area, says Leary, there will be space for "an outdoor venue for live music and small events."

Nightlife venues, such as dance clubs and lounges, are noticeably absent from the Station's tenant roster. Is there a deliberate effort to prohibit nightclubs in the area?

"Not at all," Leary says. "We are open to all kinds of tenants. Ultimately, Atlantic Station will offer a full range of experiences — from pure service like banking and dry cleaning to a complete mix of dining, shopping and entertainment."



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