The History of Avenue East Cobb

1999 2006 2021 2022 2023

Inception

In late 1996 while having dinner with Gap Inc. Senior Vice President Steve Kaplan, an idea was sparked in Joel Murphy, then president of Atlanta-based Cousins Properties (Cousins), to create a new, Main Street-style lifestyle center offering a mix of national retailers, specialty restaurants, and locally owned shops. Shortly after, his vision for The Avenue of East Cobb – one of the nation’s first upscale, pedestrian-oriented, open-air retail centers – emerged. The following year, Cousins assembled a 30-acre site halfway between Roswell and Marietta, formerly home to a golf driving range and 17-home subdivision aptly named Marwell, and had it rezoned for retail development. 

Fast forward to August 12, 1999, when the $43 million, 225,000-square-foot destination debuted with founding tenants Gap and Banana Republic, quickly followed by a slew of others such as Borders Books & Music and Johnny Rockets, and was 100% leased by the year’s end.

2006

New Ownership

PGIM Real Estate, the real estate investment and financing business of PGIM, the $1.4 trillion global asset management business of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), acquired The Avenue of East Cobb in 2006 for $94 million. 

2021

Ownership Expansion

In July 2021, North American Properties (NAP) entered into a joint venture partnership with PGIM Real Estate to reposition The Avenue of East Cobb as the community’s third place through an infusion of experiential programming and resort-inspired hospitality along with an update to the leasing strategy. 

Upon taking over management, NAP began superficial upgrades to the property’s existing structures and landscaping, implementing new daily processes like street sweeping and pressure washing, and hosted hospitality training for all departments. It also rebranded Avenue East Cobb (AEC) to better reflect its evolving identity and expanded its events calendar to feature over 100 annual activations.

2022

Redevelopment

During the Cobb County Board of Commissioners hearing at the end of June 2022, NAP presented its vision to create East Cobb’s hometown hangout through value-add investments and gained unanimous approval. After receiving construction permits, NAP launched its redevelopment of AEC with a groundbreaking ceremony in August. 

For the project, NAP demolished a portion of AEC’s central retail building to make way for an 8,000-square-foot turfed event Plaza, accented by a covered, raised performance stage, a 10’ X 18’ LED screen, a deck with soft seating and a fire pit, and a portico that allows for covered vehicle drop-offs and seasonal valet service. To increase street-level energy, NAP also reconfigured the tenant mix surrounding The Plaza and transitioned select former storefronts into restaurants with activated patios spilling out into the gathering space. 

Additional enhancements included building two standalone retail/restaurant jewel boxes adjacent to The Plaza, a family lounge, and indoor play area; the installation of digital directories, public Wi-Fi and Tesla Superchargers; refreshed building facades with brand-expressive storefronts; a new locally painted mural; and modernized hardscaping.

2023

AEC Redefined

In September 2023, 300 East Cobbers got an exclusive first look at the redefined AEC and its brand-new, open-air Plaza during “Celebrate Avenue East Cobb,” a ticketed event generating $10,000 in proceeds that benefited local nonprofit MUST Ministries. 

Beyond AEC’s structural upgrades, NAP has revamped the merchandise lineup with relevant fashion brands and locally owned restaurants. Since 2021, AEC has celebrated the openings of 13 NAP-curated tenants, including Barnes & Noble, Drybar, Evereve, Faced the Facial Studio, Kendra Scott (pop-up), New York Butcher Shoppe, lululemon (pop-up to permanent), Peach State Pizza, Petfolk, Press Waffle Co., Tempur-Pedic, Vanilla Cafe, and Warby Parker. Ownership also contributed capital toward revitalizing existing concepts Hand & Stone (relocated and expanded) and Tin Lizzy’s (renovated and expanded) to blend with AEC’s fresh aesthetic. 

A comfortable, family-friendly, social gathering hub that evokes a sense of local pride and inspires a new generation of memories; East Cobb’s hometown hangout has arrived. View the transformation digitally.

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