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ATLANTA-Discover Mills, the 200-tenant, 1.2-million-sf shopping center that shaved market share from Simon Property Group’s 1.9-million-sf Mall of Georgia and the 1.24-million-sf Gwinnett Place mall when it opened in November 2001 hopes to do the same again this year with the planned opening of an 18-screen AMC theater complex in late 2003.

Kansas City, MO-based American Multi-Cinema Inc. plans to break ground in February on Discover Mills’ entertainment district and have the theater open in December.

AMC officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the estimated seating size and construction cost of the venture. But area construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com comparable projects usually run about $20 million or an estimated $4,000 per seat for a 5,000-seat cinema.

Discover Mills is located between Mall of Georgia, the largest shopping center in the state, and Gwinnett Place in Gwinnett County. Discover Mills is about 25 miles northeast of Downtown Atlanta.

In a prepared statement, AMC president/CEO Phil Singleton says the theater will be “a great fit with the unique shopping and leisure environment at Discover Mills.”Octavia Ortiz, the center’s general manager, couldn’t be reached by phone or e-mail to learn the occupancy level or average quoted rent range at Discover Mills. However, in a published report last month, Mills Corp. said sales of $326 per sf were fractionally down from $330 per sf in 2001.

Mills is marketing outparcels in front of the center to retailers and restaurants, a move that is expected to generate increased foot traffic and sales at Discover Mills. Among the center’s tenants are Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Blacklion; Books-A-Million; Burlington Coat Factory, the Home Co; Last Call from Neiman Marcus; Off 5th-Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet; Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse; and Sun & Ski Sports.

In previously published reports, industry analysts said they fear the 10-county metro Atlanta population of 3.3 million residents can’t support 13.64 million sf of existing regional mall space or new space being completed.

Besides Discover Mills, Mall of Georgia and Gwinnett Place, the area has Lenox Square Mall, Fulton County, 1.57 million sf; North Point Mall, North Fulton County, 1.5 million sf; Perimeter Mall, North Fulton County, 1.43 million sf; Mall at Stonecrest, DeKalb County, 1.3 million sf; Town Center Mall, Cobb County, 1.28 million sf; Cumberland Mall, Cobb County, 1.2 million sf; Arbor Place Mall, Douglas County, 1.2 million sf; Southlake Mall, Clayton County, 1.02 million sf; and Phipps Plaza, Buckhead, GA, eight miles from Downtown Atlanta, 820,000 sf.

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