Belmont: Shops 95% leased, first tenants to open in March

Belmont, the 48-acre mixed-use development at the intersection of Windy Hill Road and Atlanta Road in Smyrna, Georgia, is nearing completion.

Here are the latest updates on the Shops, the medical office building, and the residential communities:

The Shops at Belmont

The finished Shops at Belmont buildings in the background; construction workers add plants to the landscape in the foreground.The Shops at Belmont has only 1 shop space remaining (1400 SF), and we’re seeking a soft-goods retailer to complete our modern mix of retailers and restaurants.

Here’s who’s coming to the Shops:

  • Creatwood Tavern, a new concept from the team behind Whitehall Tavern
  • Ms. Heel, a modern shoe boutique
  • Cielo, a Mexican restaurant concept
  • Greek Village Taverna, a Mediterranean restaurant concept
  • Torta di Napoli, featuring neapolitan pizzas baked in authentic wood-fired ovens
  • Dry Cleaner (to be named)
  • Parisian Nail Salon
  • N-Style, a high-end barbershop
  • Hearing Solutions, an audiology center

For leasing information, contact John Brozovic at (770) 508-3314 or

Medical Office Building in Pre-Lease

A rendering of the Belmont Physician Center

The 30,000 SF, Class “A” Belmont Physician Center (now pre-leasing)

Halpern is planning to bring a medical office building to Belmont — the Belmont Physician Center.  The 2-story, Class “A” building will be 30,000 SF and is currently pre-leasing.

In addition to the convenient location at Belmont, highlights include:

  • Outstanding demographics
  • Great visibility from street
  • Traffic counts of 18,040 and 29,530 ADT at the intersection
  • Signalized entrance at Windy Hill Road

For leasing information, contact Mike Tallant at (404) 791-9994 or

Alta Belmont Luxury Apartments

Developed by Wood Partners, Alta Belmont is a 274-unit luxury apartment community. Alta Belmont boasts modern finishes, extra space, and lavish amenities – all just a few steps from the shopping, dining, and entertainment from The Shops at Belmont. The studio, one, two, and three bedroom apartment homes are about 90% leased.

For more details and leasing information, visit the Alta Belmont website.

Village of Belmont single-family homes

The construction of 156 single-family homes is in full swing by developer David Weekley Homes. Part of Belmont, home buyers may choose from several thoughtfully-designed floor plans with stunning architectural elements and enjoy a low-maintenance lifestyle in the Belmont community.

For more details, visit the David Weekley Homes website.

Halpern Enterprises buys Franklin Centre in Tennessee

Lenoir City, Tenn. – Halpern Enterprises has purchased Franklin
Centre, a 31,153-square-foot shopping center in Lenoir City,
approximately 20 miles from Knoxville, for $4 million. Franklin Centre
is 95 percent occupied, with tenants such as Dollar Tree, Sally Beauty
Supply and Shoe Show. Joe Montgomery, senior vice president, and
Tony DeAmbrosio, vice president, of Colliers International Atlanta
facilitated the transaction. Ziff Properties was the seller of the

Construction Commences on Belmont Mixed-Use Development

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor – Commercial Property Executive

Developer Halpern Enterprises broke ground Thursday on Belmont, a multi-use project going up at the intersection of Windy Hill Road and Atlanta Road in the heart of Smyrna.

The site, which already contains the LEED certified 900-plus student Smyrna Elementary School, is the former Belmont Hills Shopping Center. The 480,000-square-foot center, which opened in 1954 and was purchased by Halpern Enterprises in 1967, became functionally obsolete and was leveled two years ago to make way for the new development.

The new 48-acre mixed-use project will feature restaurants, a 47,593-square-foot neighborhood retail center by Halpern Enterprises, a 153-home single family residential subdivision and a 274-unit luxury apartment community. The single family units will be built by David Weekley Homes and Wood Partners is entrusted with the construction of the luxury apartments. Besides the housing options and the retail component with a collection of restaurants and shops, the project includes a community green space with walking path, pavilion, and pond.

Steve West, Vice President of Development at Halpern Enterprises sees a great potential in the area.

“This location has continued to improve in recent years as high-quality projects have been built throughout Smyrna, spurred on by the city’s investment in its downtown,” he said in a press release. “And now, the planned Braves development about two miles away will only add to the area’s quality of life for people to live, work and play.”

Halpern Enterprises Breaks Ground on 48-Acre Belmont Mixed-Use Development

Smyrna, Ga. – Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises has begun construction on Belmont, a 48-acre mixed-use development in Smyrna, a northwest suburb of Atlanta. The property will feature restaurants, retail, single-family homes and luxury rental apartments at the site of the former Belmont Hills Shopping Center. David Weekley Homes will build 153 detached single-family homes at the intersection of Windy Hill and Atlanta roads in a neighborhood dubbed the Village of Belmont. Wood Partners will build the multifamily portion in a 274-unit property known as Alta Station at Belmont. Pre-leasing is expected to begin in the spring of 2015. Halpern Enterprises will develop the retail portion with the first stores opening in the summer of 2015.

Small Town Retail Centers Attracting Big Brands

By:  Jennifer LeClaire, ATLANTA—As the economy improves in smaller towns around the Southeast, many major retailers are deciding to rejuvenate dated stores as a way to stay ahead of the competition. Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises, which owns 33 retail properties in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, has seen this trend in a number of smaller metro areas. Two examples are Belk in Griffin, Ga. and Kroger in Carrollton, Ga. Both recently underwent major renovations.These smaller towns are also attractive for redevelopment of vacant retail spaces as a way to attract new retailers. Case in point: Milledgeville, Ga. a Halpern-owned shopping center, recently attracted a Hobby Lobby by expanding and renovating a space previously occupied by caught up with Bill Brown, president of Halpern, to discuss about why retailers are looking beyond bigger cities to spend their renovation dollars. We also asked him why this is a move they expect to pay off. Be sure to return to the Southeast edition this afternoon for part two of this exclusive interview. Why are these smaller-town locations attractive to retailers?

Brown: Expanding into a smaller town can provide a retail chain with an increased chance to dominate the market. They’re big fish in a small pond, so to speak.

More and more retailers are reinvesting in stores because it’s more cost effective to renovate rather than starting from scratch. And they’re finding a good bump in sales by doing so, from what we’ve seen in our centers. Is this just another function of the improving economy?

Brown: Yes, in some ways it is. The economy is improving both in cities and in smaller towns. For most of these retailers with stores in small towns, they’ve operated there for a long time and have been thriving, but they want to maintain their continued success. Doing a renovation also provides a retailer, such as Belk in the North Griffin Square shopping center in Griffin, the opportunity to enhance the look of the store, whether that is with a new coat of paint or new floor coverings. Are retailers also expanding into these small-town markets?

Brown: We have indeed seen more opportunities attracting new retailers to small towns. Hobby Lobby recently opened a location in Milledgeville at the Heritage Walk shopping center. The area was a good fit for the chain, bringing in business from Georgia College and State University, Lake Oconee, Lake Sinclair and the surrounding counties. The previous retailer in the space, Kroger, was successful but had to relocate due to a need for expansion.

Part II of the Exclusive: How Halpern Helped Kroger Compete With Walmart

ATLANTA—How can a shopping center owner help a retailer make a renovation project happen? Are these retailers renovating and redeveloping due to an increase in competition? Answers to questions like these are helping landlords attract and retain tenants. caught up with Bill Brown, president of Atlanta-based Halpern Enteprises, to get some answers to these and other questions in part two of this exclusive interview. In part one, Small Town Retailers Attracting Big Brands, we discussed why retailers are looking beyond bigger cities to spend their renovation dollars—and why this is a move they expect to see pay off. How can a shopping center owner help a retailer make a renovation project happen?

Brown: As an owner, you can do your part to improve the common areas, which could in turn help prompt the retailer to improve the inside. This can be upgrading a parking lot, painting a storefront or adding landscaping to a shopping center. Are these retailers renovating and redeveloping due to an increase in competition?

Brown: We’re not seeing a whole lot of new development of centers, so anchor retailers have to get creative when it comes to battling the competition. Take Kroger, for example. With a Publix and Super Walmart near the Kroger store in Carrollton, the chain knew it needed to do something to better compete.

The best way they felt to accomplish this was to keep their prime location but do a major expansion. The additional space more than doubled the store’s size. Now called a Kroger Marketplace, the store offers a wider variety of services, including a jewelry store, furniture, Starbucks and full pharmacy, better competing with Walmart. Why is it important for smaller-town retailers to stay current, even if there is no obvious competition in an area?

Brown: Even if retailers don’t have brick and mortar competition nearby, staying current can further solidify their position in the market. As an example, Belk has been in the Griffin area for several decades with no malls or traditional department stores as competitors. But even though Belk is the only opportunity in the area for people to buy quality labels, the retailer decided to add new merchandise to better meet the changing needs of its customers.

Also, retailers are always in competition with the Internet. If they aren’t up-to-date with their products, consumers can go online. Retailers need to appeal to customers with fresh, updated stores so they will want to shop in person, as opposed to going online. Why is it important for smaller-town retailers to stay current, even if there is no obvious competition in an area?

Brown: Even if retailers don’t have brick and mortar competition nearby, staying current can further solidify their position in the market. As an example, Belk has been in the Griffin area for several decades with no malls or traditional department stores as competitors. But even though Belk is the only opportunity in the area for people to buy quality labels, the retailer decided to add new merchandise to better meet the changing needs of its customers.

Also, retailers are always in competition with the Internet. If they aren’t up-to-date with their products, consumers can go online. Retailers need to appeal to customers with fresh, updated stores so they will want to shop in person, as opposed to going online.

Taking Stock: Atlanta CFOs focus on priorities for the future

By: Tonya Layman, Contributing Writer, Atlanta Business ChronicleBack in June, at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network conference, CFOs and other corporate executives met and presented management and policy recommendations that their colleagues should pursue.The conference attendees voted on the top five priorities for 2013: lower corporate tax rate, improved cybersecurity, territorial tax system, energy’s chance of a lifetime with the oil and gas renaissance in the nation, and infrastructure investment.For Atlanta-area CFOs, the common themes included tax reform, technology use, the implications of the Affordable Care Act and internal environments that promote business growth.

Lisa Loften is the chief financial officer of Halpern Enterprises Inc., a family-owned company that owns more than 3.4 million square feet of leasable space in 33 retail properties, who keeps a close and concerned eye on current interest rates. She also is worried about the rising costs of health care and ever-evolving technologies.

“These are the things that keep me up at night and these are the topics I talk about when I go sit down with the chairman and president of my company,” she said.

The uncertainty in the interest rate environment makes her question what the future holds. While somewhat specific to her job and industry, it is still something that Loften believes affects a majority of financial officers because most businesses need real estate.

“How will the Fed extricate themselves out of the stimulus package that has kept interest rates artificially low? They can’t do it too quickly because we would have chaos but at some point they have to pull out,” she said. “It’s like taking the training wheels off and letting the economy grow on its own. We know there will be some stumbles along the way.”

Until that happens, investors are acting fast to take the “last bite of the apple” before interest rates go up significantly and that is creating an unprecedented workload for Loften and her team.

With only 30 employees, Halpern outsources its IT function. Still, Loften stays on top of the rapidly changing technology infrastructure — another area of concern.

“We run really lean but still we have a very sophisticated technology infrastructure for a company of our size, but it is a challenge to maintain that system and make sure we are not missing out and are utilizing technology fully, effectively and efficiently,” she said.

Another issue high on her radar is raising health-care costs and the implications for the business and its workers, especially as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.

“I am not sure what is going to happen on this front,” she said. “I am working on my 2014 budget right now and I have no idea what to put on the line that addresses health-care costs. Providing health-care benefits is critical to retain good talent, but we have to closely look at those benefits each year.”

Jeremy Wilson, manager at Draffin & Tucker LLP, a public accounting firm that serves a large segment of not-for-profit health-care systems and hospitals along with a number of closely held businesses in a variety of industries, also believes health-care reform has business owners and CFOs concerned.

In his position, Wilson gets an interesting perspective from both the health-care providers who are unsure about reimbursement rates and processes and from the business owners who don’t know how health-care reform will affect the bottom line.

“There is a lot of uncertainty on what this will do to the cost of health care, in particular for the short term,” he said.

But an even bigger concern for Wilson is much-needed tax reform.

“With my clients, we are hearing a lot about tax reform and the tax system. It has gotten so complex,” he said.

Since many of his clients are taxed at the individual level, sweeping reform that only affects corporate tax structures won’t help them.

“If we have corporate tax reform, that is essentially not even going to touch a lot of my clients because many are flow-through entities,” he said. “I don’t know if you can break out the individual and corporate tax reforms, which makes it that much more difficult to do a complete overhaul.”

One thing that affects Atlanta businesses’ ability to grow is the city’s transportation woes.

“Infrastructure will continue to be an issue in Atlanta until we can fully, or even partially, address the issue. The defeat of TSPLOST last year left people scratching their heads and wondering what is the alternative now. All our eggs were placed in that basket. It was almost like TSPLOST or bust, and we ended up in a bust situation,” Wilson said.

This creates more difficulty for the city to attract new businesses and grow a customer base for existing businesses. This can also speak to talent retention, he said.

“If I can get roughly the same job and with the same salary and cut my commute time by an hour, why stay in Atlanta versus some other city?” Wilson said.

Chris Albrecht, CFO of Integrated Care Management, said as his company continues to grow 30 percent year over year, he and his business partner have been focused on business growth. They have done this by streamlining their product offerings, hiring talented employees and providing an environment where employees can succeed and earn competitive compensation and great benefits, he said.

“We have tried to build a place that is more than just a place to hang your hat. It is very team-oriented and feels more like family,” he said. “That is the secret sauce as to what we stay focused on and that in turn helps us stay focused on our growth.”

Another secret to success Albrecht said other CFOs can learn from is that ICM has built a strong relationship with its banking partner, which has led to an increased line of credit.

“Access to capital has been a big concern for other businesses,” he said. “We have built and cultivated a very close relationship with our banking partner.”

ICM has taken advantage of many bank services and technologies that take daily duties, like check writing and keying in checks, off the desks of ICM employees.

“We have tried to leverage technology to keep our group lean and mean. To us, taking advantage of these offerings seemed blatantly obvious but still so many companies do these things the old school way instead of taking advantage of the technologies available to them,” he said. “For me it was a matter of cost benefit — how can I utilize my staff’s time to contribute to growing the business without doing the mundane business duties?”

High priorities


Metro Atlanta CFOs say their top-of-mind issues are:

–          Tax reform

–          Technology use

–          Implications of the Affordable Care Act

–          Internal environments that promote business growth


Atlanta Retail Center Fills Space with Unconventional Tenants

By: Jennifer LeClaire,

ATLANTA—Three years ago, the Amsterdam Walk retail center in Midtown Atlanta was hurting—bad. Forty-two percent of its space was vacant. Instead of simply chasing more retailers, owner/manager Halpern Enterprises decided to go in a different direction to turn things around.

To supplement the search for more retailers, Halpern and leasing agent Gene Kansas of Gene Kansas Commercial Real Estate focused on landing retail tenants offering services that families in the surrounding affluent neighborhood would use. Now, the 126,000-square-foot property is 96% occupied with such tenants as an international preschool, a martial arts academy for kids, a Down Syndrome awareness center, and a doggie daycare. caught up with John Brozovic, regional director of Leasing for Atlanta-based Halpern to discuss the strategy behind the center’s turnaround. Did Amsterdam Walk start out as a family-focused center?

Brozovic: Halpern Eneterprises bought the property in 1985 with the intention of making it an outlet center. But as the economy began to boom, the center attracted a number of unique high-end retailers, such as The Cook’s Warehouse.

To match the retail mix, we rebranded the center as Amsterdam Walk. By the mid-2000s, business was great and tenants were lined up to get into Amsterdam Walk. It was vibrant and popular. Then the great recession hit. The recession did indeed hit Atlanta hard. So how did this affect Amsterdam Walk?

Brozovic: As the economy took a downward turn, the home furnishing stores were the first to go out of business because consumers stopped buying the big-ticket items. Also, while our center is a charming and unique piece of property, its location posed a problem because it isn’t visible from the road.

When the economy slowed down, retailers felt the need to relocate to shopping centers in more visible locations. By 2010, the center hit a low point with over 73,000 square feet of vacancy. We knew change was needed. How did you decide to work on shifting the mix of tenants beyond strictly retail?

Brozovic: We realized that concentrating on traditional retailers was not going to help us acquire tenants. As we considered what to do, the catalyst came from thinking about leveraging the success of our tenant International Preschool.

It’s a for-profit preschool that was doing so well that, despite the recession, they were actually planning to expand, making the school the largest tenant in Amsterdam Walk. This in turn led to attracting GiGi’s Playhouse, an educational center for families with children who have Down Syndrome, and Highland Martial Arts, a martial arts facility that caters to children.

Part II of the Exclusive:

ATLANTA—After dipping to 42% vacant at the Amsterdam Walk retail center in Midtown Atlanta during the recession, Halpern Enterprises turned things around by vying for unconventional tenants. John Brozovic, regional director of Leasing for Atlanta-based Halpern, outlined the strategy in part one of our exclusive interview.

In this installment, asked Brozvic, who worked with leasing agent Gene Kansas of Gene Kansas Commercial Real Estate, about the keys to attracting these types of tenants. He also discusses how the new tenant mix matches the center’s target demographic and more. What were some keys in attracting these kinds of tenants?

Brozovic: Part of our success came from hiring a broker who knew the neighborhood and could smartly and aggressively look for tenants. Using the preschool as a marketing tool, Gene Kansas prospected the old-fashioned way, by targeting companies that could succeed by serving that part of town, which is comprised of many affluent families with younger children.

Once we had several family-oriented facilities, momentum started, with other similar businesses hearing about us. Two new tenants, Swimmerman Swim School and Catch Air, an indoor play center for children, recently signed leases and will be open for business in the coming months. How does the new tenant mix match your target customer demographic?

Brozovic: Parents using facilities like The International Preschool and GiGi’s Playhouse give our retailers and restaurants more business and increased exposure. For example, parents dropping their kids off at school can then work out at Intown Pilates or Urban Body Fitness, two of our other tenants.

The services offered at the property are very appealing to our target demographic. One example is Piedmont Bark, a doggie daycare and grooming facility, which draws in people from the neighborhood much like the preschool does. What tips do you have for retail center owners and managers looking to make a similar shift in their tenant mix?

Brozovic: It’s critical for a center to stand out from the competition in some way, especially when you’re looking for new tenants. In addition to knowing what direction you want to pursue, the center needs to look good. Paint, landscaping and overall cleanliness definitely count.

Also, keep in mind how the layout of the center should be conducive to traffic flow. With the mix of tenants in Amsterdam Walk and spacing of facilities with drop-off areas, traffic flow isn’t an issue. It also helps that some of our tenants are busier during the day, while others are busier at night.


Be Smart About Granting Concessions, Marketing Dollars to Retailers

The U.S. economy is clearly improving, but that doesn’t mean shopping center landlords can relax. As owners strive to improve the financial performance of their retail properties, a key question is this: How much should you help your tenants financially?

In our business, we often see this question play out in two ways. First, it arises when tenants tell you they are struggling and need rent concessions. It also comes to play when you consider whether it’s a good investment to support your tenants with marketing dollars.

Tenant transparency is crucial
The industry is seeing fewer rent concessions – a sign of the improving environment for retailers in general. But that doesn’t mean retailers have stopped asking for them. For us, the key is that a tenant needs to show that it is truly struggling by disclosing its financial situation to the landlord.

Then, the tenant needs to show what it is going to do with the money saved if the landlord decides to offer concessions. Will the tenant rev up marketing, or change its inventory to better match demand? Or will the tenant simply pocket the savings and try to keep hanging on?

Of course, the need for rent concessions needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, where we own shopping centers, we are seeing sharp improvement in performance at well-located centers. Still, there are areas where the recovery is much slower.

Many centers built before the recession – in what seemed at the time like a certain path of future development – continue to struggle. In this retail environment, with budgets tighter and online shopping providing ever-increasing competition, prospects for such centers may not improve anytime soon.

Successful marketing methods
As an owner, you may also be considering whether you should supplement your tenants’ marketing efforts. In addition to increasing customer traffic, such efforts can go a long way in showing your tenants that you are taking an active role in making the center work.

That said, it’s critical that the tenants have some “skin in the game” if the landlord is going to undertake such promotions. They should either be paying part of the cost of the marketing outreach, or offering significant deals or discounts to help attract shoppers.

We have found that in order to successfully draw attention to a promotion, advertising needs to include an incentive to visit the shopping center – a “call to action”. Discount coupons can work, or consider offering a discount for every purchase in the center during a particular length of time.

Promotions can be advertised a number of ways, but we are seeing more landlords take a targeted approach to reach customers. For example, a direct mailing to residents of a certain income level, within ten miles of the center, might be a good idea.

If your retailers have quality email lists for their customers, e-marketing can be extremely affordable and effective. The key here is the list of email addresses. If you can encourage tenants to build lists and add to them over time, the time spent on that task is an excellent investment.

In addition to promotions tied to discounts, we have also had success generating traffic with family-themed events, particularly on holidays in rural locations.

As an example, a Halloween trick-or-treat event at a rural center may be a big hit for families who may live a quarter mile from their closest neighbor. In this case, the landlord can supply the candy and invite local police and fire departments to display vehicles for the kids to see. This approach is extremely affordable and, in our experience, has been well received.

As shopping center owners consider whether to help tenants financially, it’s important to take a long-term view, and to consider your center’s overall situation. Obviously, if your center is at full occupancy or close to it, and the neighborhood is doing well, it should be easier to replace a tenant.

Regardless of your center’s situation, take a hard look at whether you think a struggling retailer will make it. The, if you decide it’s worth the risk, don’t be shy in offering some support. This could pay off. After all, a leased space beats a vacant space.

– John Brozovic is the regional director of leasing of Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises, which owns more that 3.4 million square feet of leasable space in 34 retail properties, including 30 shopping centers in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.

The Shoppes at the Royale Lease Improvement

Halpern Enterprises and Colliers International Tampa Bay say retail occupancy at the Shoppes at the Royale has increased more than 65 percent.

The west St. Petersburg center was half empty when Atlanta-based Halpern acquired the shopping center for $7.55 million in late 2011 as its first asset outside Georgia.

“We have been careful to build the right mix of tenants, focusing on quality retailers and restaurants with strong records of success, ” said Dan Gagne, Halpern’s regional director of leasing.

The 3,000-square-foot lease for CD Roma’s restaurant is the largest of four new leases totaling some 7,000 square feet, while about 15,000 square feet remains, said Ben McLeish, Collier’s director of retail services. At least two more retailers are close to signing deals. Rates have inched up to a range of about $20 per square foot to $30 per square foot, plus taxes, insurance and maintenance.

Halpern set a goal of 75 percent occupancy within 15 months of buying the center.


Halpern Acquires East Athens Marketplace for $3.9 Millon

Athens, Ga.
RCG Ventures has sold the 24,000-square-foot East Athens Marketplace in
Athens to Halpern Enterprises for $3.9 million. The center is fully leased to tenants including Dollar Tree, Hibbett Sports, Radio Shack, Little Caesars and AT&T.
The property is shadow anchored by a Walmart Supercenter.

“This center was appealing to us because of the high traffic of the Walmart Supercenter,” says Steve West, vice president of development for Halpern.
“The center is also in great shape, and has upside potential that we plan to take advantage of.”

Halpern plans to expand the center, as well as lease two unoccupied
outparcels that total approximately 3.4 acres.

The acquisition marks Halpern’s first acquisition in Athens and the company’s
28th center in Georgia.

Tony D’Ambrosio and Joe Montgomery of Colliers International’s Atlanta office represented the seller. Halpern Enterprises was self-represented in
the transaction.