For the second time in as many years, a deal to buy and remake The Mall West End’s property has fallen apart, although influential backers of the site’s redevelopment aren’t giving up on its potential.

New York-based developer Tishman Speyer placed the West End Mall under contract in March with intentions of demolishing the current stores and boutiques and building a mixed-use complex spanning some 1.3 million square feet.

But a company spokesperson confirms to Urbanize Atlanta that Tishman Speyer is walking away from that potential deal, though aspects of it seemed favorable for moving forward. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported, the global firm’s revitalization outlay for West End could have reached $300 million.

“While numerous elements of this deal were successfully lined up, including financing, in the end, the project did not make sense for us,” reads a Tishman Speyer statement submitted to Urbanize via email. “We look forward to being active in Atlanta in the future.”

Tishman Speyer, the company behind Rockefeller Center and Buckhead’s One Alliance Center, was expected to act as lead partner and pay eight figures for the 1970 shopping center. Tentative plans called for the deal closing by year's end, followed by the mall's demolition sometime next year. 

Located next to MARTA rail and down the street from Atlanta University Center, the mall property spans about 12 acres and counts Radio Shack, Foot Locker, and eateries such as American Deli as primary attractions today. The owner, HT Group, has been exploring options to offload the mall for a couple of years. 

An overview of the Mall West End property just south of Interstate 20, with the adjacent MARTA line shown at right.Google Maps

A deal between that group and Elevator City Partners—a firm founded by Atlanta BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel and venture capitalist Donray Von, a West End native—appeared imminent early in 2020 but later fizzled.

In an email to Urbanize Atlanta, Gravel called the mall “an incredible site with the kind of opportunities only Atlanta can deliver.” Those opportunities, Gravel stressed, could be in jeopardy if commitments to Southwest Atlanta communities aren’t upheld.

“If somebody else wants to build a lesser version of our vision—now maybe they’ll get to do it,” Gravel said. “But I’m still convinced that given a little more time, with Tishman Speyer, we can still achieve the proposal we’ve been working on with the community for nearly three years.”

Elevator City’s vision called for a dramatic, multiphase, $400-million reimagining of the mall property into an “opportunity zone.” It eventually could have resulted in a transit-linked mini city of retail, hotel rooms, a public greenspace, affordable housing, and a technology and media hub suited for a diverse workforce of graduates from nearby HBCUs, as Gravel and Von envisioned.

The $400-million vision for Mall West End put forward early last year by Elevator City Partners, a firm founded by Atlanta BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel and venture capitalist Donray Von.Elevator City Partners; design by Gensler

The 1970s mall’s main entrance off the intersection of Lee and Oak streets. Images via Google Maps

Gravel said partners with Tishman Speyer have been on the same page about delivering an inclusive development that helps lift up Southwest Atlanta, but he added “it’s a complex partnership that doesn’t happen overnight.” Talks about the “best outcome” for West End Mall have been held with neighborhood and merchants associations, NPUs, AUC leaders, and on up to City Hall and Invest Atlanta officials, Gravel noted.  

“It’s important what happens here,” said Gravel. “This is not only the next chapter for West End, it’s the future of Atlanta. And it matters. Atlanta has what the world is looking for, but we have to get it right.”

Coming soon in West End: A tech startup, BBQ, and food hall construction (Urbanize Atlanta)