The Many Faces of Southlake Mall in Morrow, GA

Southlake Mall: Its Inception and Evolution

The First Years: Southlake Mall as a Shopping Haven

Southlake Mall, located in the heart of Morrow, Georgia, began its journey as a premier shopping destination in 1976.

The mall, a creation of The Rouse Company, was strategically established to serve the burgeoning southern suburbs of Atlanta.

Initially, Southlake Mall emerged as a comprehensive shopping solution, hosting four major anchor stores: Rich’s, Davison’s, Sears, and JCPenney.

This impressive lineup positioned the mall as a one-stop destination, offering various products ranging from apparel to electronic gadgets.

Rich’s further enhanced the shopping experience by introducing a two-story, 230,000-square-foot facility with a restaurant and a snack bar.

Southlake Mall was a hive of activities during its prime, bustling with shoppers drawn to its diverse offerings.

The transition from Davison’s to Macy’s

The landscape of Southlake Mall began to shift in 1986, marking the first significant transformation in its tenant lineup.

This change was triggered by Davison’s rebranding to Macy’s, which reshaped the mall’s retail dynamics.

The standalone Macy’s store, however, ceased operations in January 2003. Subsequently, the fusion of Rich’s and Macy’s led to the emergence of a solitary Macy’s store in 2005, signifying a new era in the mall’s history.

This transition mirrored the evolving retail trends and consumer preferences, marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another in the storied existence of Southlake Mall.

Renovations and Changes

Southlake Mall underwent its only major renovation in 1999, which saw the relocation of the food court to the lower level, the addition of a carousel, and the rearrangement of the escalators.

The mall’s fountain was removed to make way for one of the new escalators.

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Unfortunately, the new millennium also brought about the beginning of Southlake Mall’s decline.

JCPenney announced in January 2011 that it would close its store in June that year, leaving the mall with only three anchor tenants.

Foreclosure and Ownership Changes

By February 2013, the mall had fallen into foreclosure, with anchor spaces excluded. General Growth Properties, the mall’s owner, then released its interests in Southlake Mall, citing a desire to focus on stronger-performing properties.

C-III Asset Management briefly supervised the mall’s mortgage before being sold to B Properties, a subsidiary of Bayer Properties specializing in rehabilitating struggling malls.

As if Southlake Mall’s fortunes couldn’t get any worse, Sears announced in May 2018 that it would be closing its location as part of a nationwide plan to shutter 72 stores. This left Macy’s as the sole remaining anchor tenant.

In January 2019, the mall was sold to a joint venture between two New York-based real estate companies, CityView Commercial LLC and Jacobs Real Estate Advisors.

The transaction involved the sale of the property by the Vintage Capital Group, a Los Angeles-based company.

This change in ownership came after the mall’s previous struggles, including losing high-profile tenants and a foreclosure period.

The new owners aimed to revitalize the mall, bringing in new retailers and converting vacant spaces into functional areas, like office spaces.

This transition is part of the mall’s ongoing effort to adapt to the changing retail landscape and to continue serving the community as a significant shopping and social destination​.

Anchors of Southlake Mall

Macy’s has been a key anchor store at Southlake Mall, offering a wide range of products and services and contributing significantly to the mall’s foot traffic and appeal.

Another anchor, Morrow Conference & Event Center, represents a transformative use of the mall’s space.

It reflects a trend where traditional retail spaces are being repurposed to offer diverse services and experiences, catering to the community’s evolving needs.

Chime Solutions, taking over the space of a former JCPenney store, showcases the mall’s adaptive reuse.

This company has revitalized a significant portion of the mall, highlighting the potential for commercial spaces to evolve and support different types of businesses.

These anchors provide some stability to the mall and demonstrate its ability to adapt and thrive amidst changing retail landscapes.

Renowned Stores and Their Stories within Southlake Mall

Southlake Mall houses a variety of stores, each contributing to its unique character and appeal.

Stores like Aeropostale Factory Store, Bath & Body Works, and Footaction offer a diverse shopping experience catering to different tastes and preferences.

Macy’s and Macy’s Backstage are key attractions, drawing shoppers with their wide array of merchandise.

The presence of H&M and Hot Topic reflects the mall’s commitment to staying relevant and appealing to a younger demographic.

These stores, along with others like Victoria’s Secret and The Children’s Place, play a significant role in defining the shopping experience at Southlake Mall, contributing to its status as a prominent retail destination in the region.

A Culinary Adventure: Dining Options at Southlake Mall’s Food Court

While shopping at Southlake Mall, one cannot help but be drawn to the enticing aromas wafting from the food court.

With a diverse selection of dining options, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

So whether you’re craving a quick snack or a hearty meal, the food court offers an array of choices for shoppers to refuel and unwind.

404 Sports Bar & Grill

If you’re a sports fan looking for a place to catch the latest game while enjoying a tasty meal, look no further than 404 Sports Bar & Grill.

This lively establishment offers a wide selection of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and drinks, and this vibrant establishment is the perfect spot to cheer on your favorite team with fellow fans.

DQ Grill & Chill

DQ Grill & Chill is a must-visit for those with a sweet tooth. Serving their iconic soft-serve ice cream and Blizzard treats, DQ also offers a range of savory options, such as burgers, chicken strips, and fries. It’s the perfect place to indulge in both sweet and savory cravings.

Great Wraps Grill

For a healthier and lighter option, Great Wraps Grill has you covered.

Offering a variety of customizable wraps, salads, and bowls, this food court staple allows shoppers to enjoy a fresh and satisfying meal.

With options for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, Great Wraps Grill is a crowd-pleaser.

J&J Wok & Grill

Are you craving Asian cuisine? J&J Wok & Grill serves up a delicious array of Chinese dishes and stir-fries, made fresh to order.

This eatery will transport your taste buds to the East with generous portions and a range of options, including classics like General Tso’s chicken, beef and broccoli, and lo mein.

PEI WEI

PEI WEI is the place to be for a taste of Pan-Asian flavors. This fast-casual restaurant offers dishes from China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

From sushi and ramen to teriyaki bowls and pad thai, PEI WEI provides a diverse and exciting culinary experience.

Sbarro

Pizza lovers, rejoice! Sbarro serves up classic New York-style pizza by the slice and pasta dishes, strombolis, and salads.

So whether you’re craving a classic cheese slice or a hearty meat lover’s pie, Sbarro’s got you covered.

In conclusion, Southlake Mall’s food court offers a diverse selection of dining options for shoppers to enjoy.

From quick bites to full meals, there’s something to satisfy every craving and keep you fueled for a day of shopping.

Recent Incidents and Safety Concerns

In 2023, Southlake Mall in Morrow, GA, experienced some troubling incidents that raised concerns about safety and security.

Notably, in July, a 17-year-old was shot multiple times in the mall’s parking lot. The victim was hit in the calf, shoulder, and rear and was later stabilized at a hospital.

The Morrow Police Department responded swiftly to the incident, providing medical aid and initiating an investigation.

However, details regarding the suspect or the motives behind the shooting remained unclear.

This incident underscores the challenges public spaces like Southlake Mall face in maintaining safety and security for their visitors.

​Additionally, in November 2022, an alarming situation occurred when a 31-year-old man threatened to “shoot up” the mall on Black Friday.

This incident caused panic among shoppers, further underscoring the challenges faced in ensuring public safety. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, and police apprehended the individual.

Future of Southlake Mall

The future of Southlake Mall, situated just south of Atlanta, is shaping up to blend revitalization and community development.

This transformation is part of a broader initiative to rejuvenate the area, including the adjacent district known as ‘The District,’ formerly Olde Towne Morrow.

The District, conceptualized around 2005 as a complement to Southlake Mall, initially aimed to boost the mall’s appeal by creating a unique, walkable downtown area.

It featured a collection of retail spaces and event areas, along with historic houses transported from various parts of Georgia and repurposed as art galleries, shops, and restaurants.

However, the project faced setbacks due to the Great Recession and compliance issues with fire safety codes and environmental studies, leading to its shutdown in late 2010.

In recent years, activity and investment in The District has been resurgent. The city has undertaken significant efforts to revitalize the area, including facade upgrades, fresh exterior paint, and new lighted signage.

The City of Morrow’s commitment to revitalizing this area has been evident in hosting community events attracting thousands of visitors.

These events, showcasing the area’s cultural diversity, starkly contrast the challenges The District faced in the past.

Moreover, the Clayton County Board of Education has purchased the mall’s former Sears for $4.4 million, with plans to build an 8,000-seat multi-purpose arena and convention center.

This development and transformation of the former JC Penney into Morrow Conference & Event Center for weddings and other events signifies a shift in mall space from traditional retail to multifunctional community spaces.

Overall, the future of Southlake Mall, as part of the Morrow cityscape, is headed toward becoming a dynamic hub for shopping, community events, and cultural activities.

The ongoing developments are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the area, reflecting a concerted effort to revive and repurpose spaces to meet contemporary needs and preferences.

Other Malls in Georgia

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Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Terri Cunningham
    Terri Cunningham

    Hi Spencer! I wanted to ask if you had a record of stores that used to be in Southlake Mall between like 2000 and 2010. There used to be an ice cream shop that had the best chocolate fudge to ever exist but I don’t remember the name the shop. TCBY, maybe? Thank you!

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

      Hi Terri! Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, I don’t have a record of the stores. You might find some luck with this source: http://skycity2.blogspot.com/2009/07/southlake-mall-morrow-ga_29.html

      Reply
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