GREENBRIAR CENTER
Greenbriar Parkway Southwest and Headland Drive
Atlanta, Georgia

Greater Atlanta's third fully-enclosed shopping complex was built on 88.2 acres, located 10 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta. The site, within the city limits of Atlanta, was adjacent to the prospective route of the Lakewood Freeway, which would open to traffic in late 1966.

GREENBRIAR CENTER was developed by Atlanta-based Crow, Carter & Associates and designed by the firm of Edwards & Portman. The 650,000 square foot complex consisted of a main retail level and small basement.

A 3-level (160,000 square foot), Atlanta-based Rich's became one of the first stores to open, on September 9, 1965. The mall's 2-level (129,900 square foot) J.C. Penney was dedicated, along with the mall, on September 23rd.

Among the ninety-two stores and services were Jarman Shoes, Pearle Optical, SupeRx Drugs, Radio Shack, Merry-Go-Round, Frederick's of Hollywood, Piccadilly Cafeteria, Happy Herman's Liquors, a Kroger supermarket and (52,900 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

A 952-foot-long, sunlit mallway traversed the center. It featured large, concrete animal statues, two fountains and a bird aviary. Rich's Magnolia Room, a third level terrace restaurant, overlooked the mall's East Court. The complex also had a 74-bell carillon.

A single-screen theatrical venue, the Georgia Theatre Company Greenbriar Theatre, opened -in the basement level of the complex- on October 15, 1965. It was twinned in the mid-1970s and shuttered in 1992.

In its early years, GREENBRIAR CENTER had only one mall-type counterpart on the city's southwest side. STEWART-LAKEWOOD CENTER (1959) {4.6 miles east, in Atlanta} was a small, community-sized venue which was unable to compete with GREENBRIAR, which was more than twice its size.

By the early 1970s, the shopping center was known as GREENBRIAR MALL. It was joined by SOUTHLAKE MALL (1976) {11 miles southeast, in Morrow} and SHANNON MALL (1980) {8.2 miles southwest, in Union City}.

The first major renovation of the GREENBRIAR property was announced in January 1987. The mall's owners, the Dallas-based Lehndorff Group, performed an 18 million dollar remodeling, with nineteen new stores added to the tenant list. A small Food Court was created and (35,000 square foot) Circuit City built on the northwest corner of the complex.

Moreover, new skylights, fountains and fiber optic exterior lighting were installed. A revitalized GREENBRIAR MALL was officially re-dedicated November 12, 1987. Attending the ceremony were U.S. Representative John Lewis (D) and Andrew Young, Mayor of Atlanta. The complex now encompassed 792,000 leasable square feet.

J.C. Penney became the first anchor to receive a new nameplate. The store had been shuttered September 28, 1985. It re-opened, as a Norcross, Georgia-based Uptons, as part of the 1987 renovation. Upton's closed on December 30, 1992 and was replaced by a New Jersey-based Burlington Coat Factory. This store held its grand opening on September 1, 1995.

A second major renovation was undertaken in the late 1990s. A vacated Woolworth's spot was sectioned into five inline stores. New mall entrances were built and the interior and exterior of the complex were updated.

The Sony Theatres / Magic Johnson Greenbriar Mall 12 multiplex was built on a southwest parcel. This new freestanding theater was dedicated November 22, 1996, with the mall being re-dedicated in December 1997.

Throughout its history, GREENBRIAR MALL has had its ups and downs. The venue was the victim of so-called "white flight" during the 1970s and '80s. However, through clever remarketing to the Afro-American community, it went on to eclipse the SOUTHLAKE and SHANNON malls, its first major competitors.

A third, more formidable, rival came on the scene in 2003. CAMP CREEK MARKETPLACE {1.8 miles southwest, in College Park} was an open-air power center. It drew commerce from GREENBRIAR and snatched its Circuit City store.

A second GREENBRIAR anchor rebranding cycle got underway February 2, 2003. The Rich's store (by now encompassing 180,000 square feet) became a Rich's-Macy's. A full-fledged Macy's nameplate was installed March 6, 2005.

Toronto's Dundee Real Estate Investment Trust, who had acquired the GREENBRIAR property in January 1997, placed the mall on the open market in the mid-2000s. Eventually, they decided not to sell the holding but to enter into a 50 / 50 joint venture with Atlanta-based Hendon Properties. The transaction was finalized in June 2006.

Unfortunately, The Great Recession left the mall in foreclosure. Dundee sold their fifty-percent share to Hendon Properties in February 2010, leaving them to deal with the financial situation on their own. In March 2010, an "unidentified foreign investor" came on board and secured the loan.

With the mall's finances back on solid ground, Hendon Properties was able to concentrate on filling vacant spaces. Super Beauty opened a store in the old Circuit City space in April 2010. Everest College dedicated a new West Campus, in a vacant Cub Foods building, in July 2011.

However, this bit of good news was met with bad tidings. The Magic Johnson multiplex had shut down in October 2009, with the theater re-opening, as the Revolution Cinemas Greenbriar 12, in February 2010. This venue showed its final features in December of the same year.

Sources:

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
www.cinematreasures.org
www.georgiaretailmemories.com / "J.T. Webmaster
www.carterusa.com
Fulton County, Georgia tax assessor website
www.mallsofamerica.blogspot.com / Keith Milford Webmaster
Atlanta Business Chronicle
www.shopgreenbriar.com
http://www.cpexecutive.com