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ATLANTA-Using a mix of traditional mall merchants and selected local businesses in an open-air environment, Cousins Properties Inc. has set a local leasing record by opening its 206,000-sf, $38 million The Avenue West Cobb shopping center at Dallas Highway (GA 120) and Due West Road at 87% occupancy.

The leasing level would have been over 90% had all the commitment contracts been signed prior to opening, company officials say. “Retailer interest has been excellent since we first started working on this project in 2001,” says Joel Murphy, president, Cousins’ retail division. He adds the opening occupancy figure “exceeds our already high expectations” for the property.

“I think the success says much about the growing acceptance of our Avenue concept, the new ways retailers are approaching their customers, and most of all, about the quality of the West Cobb community and its residents,” Murphy says.

“The Avenue places traditional mall merchants in upscale, open-air centers alongside select local merchants and specialty restaurants” in a center noted for its “pedestrian-friendly nature, extensive landscaping and distinctive architecture,” he adds.

The Avenue West Cobb is Cousins’ fourth Avenue project. The others are The Avenue East Cobb, a 225,000-sf center in suburban Atlanta; The Avenue of the Peninsula, a 374,000-sf project in Rolling Hill Estates, CA; and The Avenue Peachtree City, a 169,000-sf project, also in suburban Atlanta.

Among the more than 30 retailers which have signed leases to date are American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor Loft, true-an Aveda Lifestyle Salon, Barnes & Noble, Bombay, Bombay Kids, Cargo Kid’s, Chico’s, Claire’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Coldwater Creek, EB Games, Famous Footwear, Jos. A. Bank, Kay Jewelers, and Kirkland’s. Also: Lane Bryant, Limited Too, Linens ‘N Things, Liz Claiborne Shoes, Pier 1 Imports, Portrait Innovations, Strasburg Children, Swoozie’s, Talbots, The Great Frame Up, White House/Black Market, Wolf Camera, Ted’s Montana Grill, The Beaded Lizard, LensCrafters, Aspen’s Signature Steaks, Theo’s Bros. Bakery and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

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