The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta, GA

Historical Background

Greenbriar Mall, located in the vibrant city of Atlanta, Georgia, is a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural diversity. Since its establishment in 1965, the mall has served as a cornerstone of the community, providing a space for commerce, social interaction, and cultural expression.

The mall’s inception was a significant event in the history of Atlanta. It was one of the first shopping malls in the Southeast, marking a new era of economic growth and urban development in the region.

The mall’s establishment was a response to the rapid urbanization and population growth that Atlanta was experiencing during the mid-20th century, reflecting the city’s progress and dynamism.

History of Mall Anchors at Greenbriar Mall

Greenbriar Center, which opened in August/September 1965, initially had Rich’s on the east end and JCPenney on the west as its anchor stores. Rich’s was the second-largest suburban store of its kind when it first opened. However, JCPenney closed its store on September 28, 1985, after 20 years of operation.

In 1987, the former JCPenney site was occupied by Uptons. By mid-1992, Cub Foods had established a location on an outlot of the mall facing the Lakewood Freeway.

However, later that same year, both the Uptons and McCrory’s stores permanently shut their doors. On September 1, 1995, a Burlington Coat Factory store was opened, but it moved to a new location in 2019.

The announcement came on January 6, 2021, that Macy’s would shut down in April 2021 as part of a nationwide plan to cease operations in 46 stores. After Macy’s closed, no traditional anchor stores were left at Greenbriar Mall.

Greenbriar Mall Entrance
Greenbriar Mall Entrance Dreman1731, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

Notable Stores and Events

Greenbriar Mall has been home to many stores that have left their mark on the community. One such store was the very first Chick-fil-A, which recently closed its doors after nearly 56 years of operation.

The closure of this iconic restaurant marked the end of an era, leaving behind a legacy of quality service and community engagement. The Chick-fil-A at Greenbriar Mall was more than just a restaurant; it was a part of the community’s identity, a symbol of the city’s growth and development.

The mall has also been the backdrop for several significant events. One such event was when music producer Jermaine Dupri discovered the hip-hop duo Kris Kross at the mall.

This discovery catapulted young artists’ careers and put Greenbriar Mall on the map as a hub for talent and creativity. The mall’s role in discovering Kris Kross highlights its significance as a cultural hub where talent is nurtured and celebrated.

Today, the mall continues to be a magnet for Atlanta sneakerheads. Stores like Foot Locker and Footaction attract enthusiasts from all over the city, reflecting the mall’s continued relevance in the city’s landscape.

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Recent Developments and Challenges

Despite its rich history and cultural significance, Greenbriar Mall has faced many challenges in recent years.

In April 2023, a shooting incident involving a security guard raised concerns about safety within the mall. This incident, coupled with the departure of major brands and anchor tenants, has posed significant challenges for the mall.

However, amidst these challenges, the mall has shown potential for renewal. Officials have expressed that the mall is not going anywhere and has the potential to serve a renewed purpose for the southwest Atlanta neighborhoods. This potential for renewal reflects the resilience of the mall and its ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

The Future of Greenbriar Mall

The future of Greenbriar Mall is at a crossroads. With the departure of major brands and the challenges of maintaining a steady customer base, the mall faces reinventing itself to remain relevant.

Greenbriar Mall
Greenbriar Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Potential redevelopment plans have been discussed, possibly transforming the mall into a mixed-use development with affordable housing and amenities. This transformation could breathe new life into the mall, making it a vibrant hub for the community once again.

However, the mall’s future is not just about physical transformation. It’s about preserving its historical significance, maintaining its cultural relevance, and serving as a cornerstone for the community.

Conclusion

Greenbriar Mall is more than just a shopping center. It’s a historical landmark, a cultural hub, and a symbol of community resilience. As it faces the challenges of the present and looks towards the future, one thing is certain: Greenbriar Mall must continue to be a significant part of Atlanta’s story.

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Comments: 4
  1. Avatar of James Schneider
    James Schneider

    Greenbriar Mall was used as a set for some of the stupidest movies ever produced, including “Invasion USA” starring Chuck Norris as Captain Charles and myself as Fidel “Jaime Santiago” Castro, with terrorists John Bell, Kimio Young, Tony Waters, and Dewey SamSampson. Also, the Blues Brothers!

    Reply
    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for your comment. It’s always interesting to discover the unexpected roles Greenbriar Mall has played. It certainly adds a unique layer to its history.

      Reply
  2. Avatar of Victor Rollerson
    Victor Rollerson

    I love the Greenbriar Mall and the neighborhood. Hopefully they will continue redevelopment which includes the Marta hub station. My main concern is they won’t develop it like they do other parts of the city that are more gentrified. I already have issue with the fact that the city and Marta have changed it from trains to a dedicated bus lane. Also, hopefully they will have more meeting that include the community so we can have more input on the final decision.

    Reply
    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thanks for your comment. It’s clear that you care deeply about the Greenbriar Mall and its surrounding neighborhood. Your call for more community involvement in its redevelopment is indeed essential.

      Reply
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