New Developments

Published on January 11th, 2013 |


Restoration Hardware unveils Buckhead store designs to replace dormant former ESPN Zone property

There is a restoration of sorts about to take place at 3030 Peachtree Road in Buckhead and it is in the form of Restoration Hardware demolishing the former ESPN Zone entertainment facility and replacing it with a brand new upscale retail store and experience.

The present vacant ESPN Zone building at 3030 Peachtree
Road in Buckhead could look similar to the Restoration
Hardware store design shown below if plans go forward. 
BuckheadView announced on May 12 of last year that Restoration Hardware was in negotiations to lease the former ESPN Zone building. But we didn’t know half the story.

Wednesday of this week we heard and saw the company’s plans for tearing down and replacing that building with a six-story, open-atrium design store that will be the first of its kind for the company’s new concept in the Southeast.

This photo is of the front of the new store in Scottsdale.
While the Scottsdale store is a 3-story building and the one
in Buckhead will be six stories, the architectural character
will be similar. Go here to see that Scottsdale design. 
An entourage of almost a dozen representatives of Restoration Hardware, its architectural firm, attorneys and others attended the SPI-9 (Special Public Interest district) Development Review Committee’s January meeting to get some preliminary input into the company’s plans for the Peachtree Road site across the street from the Buckhead Atlanta development.

They wanted a reading from the committee on the design of the proposed building and whether they would meet opposition to a few perceived zoning variances  they might need due to the new strict requirements of SPI-9. They received a fairly favorable reception from the committee.

Steve Sebastian, who heads up store development for Restoration Hardware and was the obvious leader of the team at the meeting, told the group “We have re-invented ourselves and it has been very successful,” as introduction to the design for this Buckhead store.

Steve Sebastion, who heads store development for Restoration Hardware,
explains the company’s new concept to members of the SPI-9 Development
Review Committee at its meeting Wednesday, Jan. 9.

“We are re-inventing the brand and our stores to a gallery design approach,” he explained. Buckhead, he said, affords the opportunity to build a larger store than Restoration Hardware has built to date, and this would be the first of that multi-story store.

He indicated each of the stories would have a distinct gallery of product offerings and would work in a circular pattern around an open atrium from the ground floor to the ceiling. “Our catalog is now up to 680 pages,” he said.

For instance, the company has added what Sebastian called a “big-style/small-space” line of furnishings designed for condos and apartments. It also has added a baby and child line. Each of those might have a separate gallery floor in the new store.

Architect Jim Gillam, right,  explains the design of the store.
Proposed main store would be six stories with an atrium design and main entry off of Peachtree Road, explained Jim Gillam, principal with the Bracken Gillam Kroeger California architectural firm that is working with Restoration Hardware on it new store designs. He said the exterior would be a high-scale Venetian-style plaster.

(To view three 360-degree video character sketches of the proposed Buckhead Restoration Hardware site, go here and click on each video at the left.)

The plan for the main store includes retail courtyards on either side of the atrium ground floor and also landscaped display areas for the line of outdoor furniture just inside the entry off of Peachtree.  The atrium includes a grand stairway at the back of the building and elevators that are transparent, according to Gillam.

While the store is listed as six stories, by design it actually is three stories plus two stories with a basement for storage.

The design for the property shows the main store, at right,
facing Peachtree Road, with a secondary entrance off of
a two-lane drive, off of the side street, that allows for a
drop-off valet parking area and continues to the parking
deck, at left. In between is an area for a future low-rise
retail market, which might be a surface parking area. 
The site plan includes a secondary entrance at the back of the main building off of a two-lane drive that enters off of the side street and separates the main store from a proposed future one- or two-story retail market area. Gillam said the design develops two entrances to the building and tries not to differentiate between inside and outside space.

The two-lane drive, which provides for a drop-off valet parking area would then continue on to the parking deck at the back of the property. The existing parking deck, which includes 134 spaces, is the only existing structure on the property that Restoration Hardware intends to retain in the new site plan.

In the near-term, it was suggested by DRC members that the low-rise retail market area might be used as a park-style landscaped surface parking area for a small number of cars.  Sebastian said the retail market area might in the future house an artist market to feature one of the company’s new lines and possibly even a café.  

Atlanta attorney Jessica Hill, who represents Restoration Hardware, tells
the SPI-9 Development Review Committee about the variations the
company may need from the SP-9 regulations as the company’s
architect Jim Gillam listens to her explanations. 
 Atlanta attorney Jessica Hill, who is working with the Restoration Hardware development team, sought some initial opinions as to whether the company might need variances for parking, loading dock space, uplighting of the front of the building and a nine-foot wall that is part of the design for the front of the building on Peachtree. The committee suggested most of those would likely not require variances.

The main point of contention during the meeting was the nine-foot wall along the Peachtree Road frontage, since SPI-9 was designed to encourage building street fronts to open up to pedestrian traffic and become inviting to passers-by.

DRC member Sally Silver suggested the architects consider duplicating the window treatment on the front of the building across the nine-foot wall in front of the building to create a window of interest to pedestrians on the sidewalk. It also was suggested that the use of decorative grillwork on such a treatment might be seen by the committee as a public art application.

Silver also suggested the company use the wall as the front of the structure and that by creating those open spaces in the wall they could obtain the 65 percent open space required and the 18-foot height requirement for the street-front façade.

In the end, the members of the SPI-9 committee expressed excitement for the overall design and at having a company like Restoration Hardware locating at that site. 

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6 Responses to Restoration Hardware unveils Buckhead store designs to replace dormant former ESPN Zone property

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great use of the property and I like the redesign

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just got to ensure its also pedestrian friendly. It would be nice if someone could walk safely for example from the St Regis to Restoration Hardware and then across to the new development in progress.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can from the east entrance of the St. Regis, through the courtyard with Chops, J. Christophers, and Seasons 52, onto Peachtree, hang a right and you’re there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Just got to ensure its also pedestrian friendly. It would be nice if someone could walk safely for example from the St Regis to Restoration Hardware and then across to the new development in progress’

    Pedestrian access and safety; what a novel concept.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like a great project. It’s too bad Dallas was selected over Atlanta for their 1st hotel.

  5. Anonymous says:

    On November 1, Restoration Hardware launched an IPO aimed at raising $120 million. The stock price launched at $24, and closed this week at $32. In the 12 month period ending July 2012, their net income rose from $4.9 million to $33.1 million, and gross sales increased 22% during that same period to $1.05 billion. Wow – these guys are on a roll! But here is my prediction – RH’s stock price will start to sink soon. I’m basing this prediction on Restoration Hardware’s current catalog and their stated goal of branching into apparel, footwear and jewelry.
    What is wrong with the Restoration Hardware catalog? Let me count the ways…
    When almost every other catalog in the industry is downsizing their page counts in an effort to decrease their reliance on print and drive customers to their websites, Restoration Hardware (which now calls themselves simply “RH”) is going in the opposite direction – and then some.
    In 2011, RH mailed a 616 page “Source Book” to customers and prospects. The 2012 customer catalog is 992 pages, which weighs 5 ½ pounds.
    Having a big book is not by itself bad. If you read this blog regularly, you know I’m not one of those people that believes catalogs are dead, and that all sales will come from Facebook.
    But, all of you know how difficult it is to make the numbers work to justify mailing a 100 or 200 page catalog to your best customers. How is it that RH can justify mailing a 700 page catalog, along with another 156 page “insert” with which it was poly-bagged, to prospects? Despite what the growth numbers indicate for the past 12 months, I’ll bet they can’t maintain that level of profitability. Why? Because they will allow their personal hubris to lead them to keep expanding circulation into more marginal prospect names, all the time thinking that those prospects need to see all 700 pages to get a full sense of RH’s assortment. That will lead RH to very quickly fall of the prospecting cliff.
    I admit that I may not be their target customer. But those are my tastes, which is why growing this catalog is going to become increasingly difficult. The RH catalog has a distinct “look”, which I believe – as a consumer – you either love or hate. There is not much middle ground in their catalog.
    Sure, I get that this is supposed to be a source book, and that consumers will keep it around for a long time, simply because it’s sheer mass and bulk inspire the consumer to keep it. But they will only keep it around if the styles shown match their home decor. I could not find one callout in those 700 pages that said “for our full line of X, see our website”. No, the folks at RH enjoy creating catalogs, and probably don’t want to drive sales to the web, so they put the full line of every category, in the catalog. And this is where RH is headed into trouble.
    Gary Friedman, the chairman emeritus, stated recently that “we can curate a lifestyle beyond the four walls of the home”. With that, he laid out plans to launch into apparel, footwear and jewelry. Oh, if only it were that easy.
    How many catalogs can you name that have built a lifestyle brand that successfully bridged so many product categories, especially one that has such a distinct “look”? What the folks at RH don’t realize is that just because they may have been successful in determining what furniture and home accessories their customers want, that does not mean that knowledge will translate to knowing what those customers want to wear.
    Plus, from a merchandise perspective, designing, sourcing and selecting apparel and jewelry require an entirely different perspective and mindset from leather sofas. Sofas don’t change much – and adding 11 new shades of taupe don’t count, when you say you are constantly adding new product. But fashion and jewelry change all the time. Upper management at RH will have to show that they understand that.
    So, if you get one of those 900 page giants in your mail box, be careful not to drop it on your foot. More important, keep watching that stock price.
    By Bill LaPierre
    VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

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