28 April 2013

Extant Assets - Phipps Plaza, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, the de facto capital of the South, is quite the surprising place. Sure, there's as much Scarlet O'Hara and NASCAR as everyone expects, but there's also the world's busiest airport, the deep south's only heavy rail subway system, a vibrant gay scene and Phipps Plaza.

 
Phipps Plaza Mallmanac ca. 2003. View the full PDF version here.

Located in the fashionable Buckhead district to the north of downtown, Phipps Plaza is perhaps overshadowed by the pure scope and size of its neighbor, Lenox Square. I myself always preferred Lenox simply because just walking into the warm wooden and marble confines of Phipps always made me feel so poor. And this place had a Saks, a Lord and Taylor, and (in my opinion) the most uppity of them all, Parisian.

 
L- Lord and Taylor and the mall's main entrance facing Peachtree Road. R- Saks Fifth Avenue, the mall's oldet extant anchor.

When working for Delta Air Lines, I was no longer a poor college student, so I regularly flew (for free) from Huntsville to Atlanta, hopped on MARTA, and rode the Gold Line up to Buckhead just to do some shopping. When living in a place like Huntsville, Alabama where Macy's is considered upmarket, it was nice to browse stores like Kenneth Cole and Armani.

 
L- Parisian mall entrance. R- The Center Court steps.

Phipps Plaza opened in 1969 as Atlanta's first double-tiered mall. It was your basic sixties dumbell shaped center with competeing anchors at each end. It opened just over a decade after its nearby sister mall, aiming to complement the more mid market Lennox by offering a much more upscale selection of stores and prices. A third level and anchor were added in 1992, and the mall retains that footprint to this day.


Phipps Plaza as of this writing.

It seems that Phipps Plaza remains the standard for luxury shopping in the south. Whenever other centers open in nearby cities offering just a sampling of the upper market stores that Phipps has, such as The Mall at Green Hills in Nashville or Parkway Place in Huntsville, the locals tend to nickname those places something to the tune of Little or Mini Phipps.


Phipps Plaza from the air. (Source)

Nordstrom took over the Lord and Taylor store when the latter retailer retrenched into the Northeast, while Belk took over the Parisian space with a buyout of the entire chain. Belk, in order to appease both the mall's owners and patrons, opened the new store as a flagship after complaints of their store's being too middle brow for the center. As they say, money talks. And the way it is now, it seems that Phipps will have a lot to say for many more years.

Phipps Plaza's official website

1 comment:

  1. Thanks!Here is a link to an old picture of Phipps.
    http://collections.atlantahistorycenter.com/export/get_item_viewer_image.php?alias=/Atlcc&i=124&height=600&width=600

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