COBB COUNTY CENTER
South Cobb Drive SE and Pat Mell Road
Cobb County, Georgia

Greater Atlanta's third shopping mall was developed by a joint venture of Atlanta's M. Rich & Company and New York City's Food Fair Properties. Its Rich's store was designed by Stevens & Wilkinson, of Marietta, Georgia. The complex was built on a 44 acre plot, located 13.5 miles northwest of Atlanta's Five Points, in a section of unincorporated Cobb County.

COBB COUNTY CENTER was the county's first mall-type retail venue. Fifteen stores opened for business August 15, 1963. An official mall dedication was held October 10 of the same year. The original structure was open-air in format and encompassed approximately 363,500 leasable square feet. A 2-level (120,000 square foot), Atlanta-based Rich's was its sole anchor.

When fully-leased COBB COUNTY CENTER housed thirty-eight stores and services. These included Dunaway Drug, Radio Shack, a Davis House restaurant, F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10, (45,200 square foot) W.T. Grant and (20,000 square foot) Food Fair supermarket.

Features of the original COBB COUNTY CENTER included a Japanese Contemplation Garden (in Center Court) and two-hundred-and-fifty-seat Community Auditorium. The Georgia Theatre Company Cobb Center Theatre opened, as a northern outparcel, July 24, 1964. This single-screen house would be reconfigured and expanded into a 3, 4 and -then- 6-screen venue.

In 1966-1967, Rich's was enlarged with a 1-level (46,100 square foot) addition. The store now comprised 166,100 square feet. By this time, the Food Fair supermarket had been rebranded by Colonial Stores.

COBB COUNTY CENTER enjoyed its exclusive status, as the county's only shopping mall, until August 1973, when CUMBERLAND MALL {4 miles southeast, in Cobb County} was completed. This new competitor was a fully-enclosed, superregional center.

As a keeping up with CUMBERLAND measure, the open-air walkways at COBB COUNTY CENTER were enclosed. Moreover, the Colonial supermarket was expanded and converted to a Big Star. With these modifications, the new COBB CENTER MALL incorporated approximately 409,600 leasable square feet.

In 1976, an Atlanta-based Kessler's opened in a vacated Grants space. By this time, competition from CUMBERLAND MALL was taking its toll on the older shopping facility. By the 1980s, demographics in the area were also changing, resulting in a further decline of COBB CENTER MALL. Another fatal blow came with the opening of TOWN CENTER AT COBB {7.5 miles north, in Kennesaw}, in 1986.

In order to compete with -yet- another superregional shopping mall in its trade area, a facelift renovation and name change to FOUR SEASONS AT COBB was done. Unfortunately, the newer malls in the county won out.

By the mid-1990s, Rich's at FOUR SEASONS AT COBB had been demoted to a Clearance Center. Big Star had been shuttered, followed by Kessler's and Woolworth's. The mall closed in late 1997. The structure was demolished in early 1998, leaving Rich's, its Auto Center and the mall's cinema standing.

These were joined by a newly-built Publix supermarket on the south, and small strip center on the north. Chuck Camp Park, a complex of softball fields, was built in the rear parking area. The renewed retail complex, known simply as COBB CENTER, was dedicated in 1999.

Rich's was rebranded as a Rich's-Macy's Clearance Center in 2003 and closed for good in February 2004. In 2009, the 2-level section of the store re-opened as the Imagine International Academy of Smyrna, a public charter school covering kindergarten through grade 8. The official name of the institution was later changed to International Academy of Smyrna.

Today, the 69,500 square foot shopping center (excluding the Rich's store structure) is owned by the Tarrytown, New York-based DLC Management Corporation, who acquired it from Jacksonville, Florida's Regency Centers in November 2007.

Sources:

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Marietta Daily Journal
"Cobb Center" article on Wikipedia
Cobb County Georgia tax assessor website
http://skycity2.blogspot.com / "J.T." webmaster
www.cinematreasures.org