A 9-acre shopping center at 7300 Roswell Road appears headed for redevelopment after the state recently approved a pollution cleanup deal. The revamped North Springs Center will remain all-retail, but with “higher-end” businesses, according to City Councilmember Ken Dishman, who represents the area.

The shopping center’s buyer, according to state records, is Buckhead-based Blanchard Real Estate, an investment management firm specializing in retail projects.

Part of the North Springs Center at 7300 Roswell Road. (File Photo by John Ruch)

Blanchard did not respond to an email seeking information about the sale, and Peyton Nunez, an attorney representing the buyer in the pollution cleanup deal, declined to comment. State Environmental Protection Division officials involved in the cleanup deal said Blanchard has not divulged its redevelopment plans.

In his regular constituent newsletter, Dishman reported the sale and gave several details about the developer’s plans, without naming Blanchard. Dishman said he is “not at liberty to say” where he got the information.

In the newsletter, Dishman described the plan as “a large scale transformation of the site as a new retail destination.” While townhomes are allowed and supported by the neighborhood as a mixed use, he said, none will be built in the short term due to the site’s pollution issues. According to EPD, a housing-oriented use requires more thorough cleanup than a retail use would.

The pollution is chemicals that leaked from a former dry cleaners. North Springs Associates, the longtime owner of the shopping center, has worked for over a year on cleanup with supervision from the state EPD.

On Oct. 11, the EPD approved a deal for the site under the state “brownfields” program that provides Blanchard with limited financial and legal liability for the cleanup, keeping the seller mostly on the hook, according to Kevin Collins, a unit coordinator in EPD’s Response and Remediation Program. The intent is to make a sale—and the cleanup—happen faster.

Collins said that EPD has reviewed the latest cleanup test results and, on Nov. 21, determined that the shopping center will not be listed on the EPD’s official list of “hazardous” sites, as long as the cleanup is finished as promised.

The shopping center, located in the southwest corner of the intersection of Roswell and Dalrymple roads, dates to 1969, according to Fulton County property records. Big Lots, its most recent anchor store, closed earlier this year as North Springs Associates has prepared it for a redevelopment-oriented sale. The shopping center is now largely empty.

In his newsletter, Dishman said the developer plans to conduct a “partial demolition of some of the existing structures, perform an extensive renovation of much of the current footprint and perhaps even add more retail space closer to the road.”

“Most important, there is no intention to simply apply ‘lipstick to the pig’ and bring more discount retailers into the existing footprint,” Dishman continued. “Instead, it appears the new owner plans to sign on a host of higher-end retailers and restaurants, including a coffee shop that I know will generate much joy and fanfare in these parts!”

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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