A new retail building made of shipping containers planned outside Lenox Square mall is drawing concerns from members of a Buckhead planning board who want to ensure temporary developments are temporary.
A developer has proposed installing a modular shopping center made up of nine shipping containers near the intersection of East Paces Ferry Road and Lenox Parkway on a parking lot owned by Lenox Square.
The project would also include a new outdoor deck and site improvements including landscaping, according to the developer’s special administrative permit application.
A spokesperson for Simon Property Group, the mall’s owner, declined to comment, but mall manager Robin Suggs signed off on the application.
Denise Starling, a member of the Development Review Committee for the area, said the idea for shipping container stores is to be temporary “pop-ups.” She expressed concern about the Lenox Square version being permanent.
“A shipping container’s lifespan is longer than temporary,” she said at the March 28 Buckhead Community Improvement District board meeting.
The developers presented the plan at a meeting with the DRC for Special Public Interest District 12, which includes the commercial core of Buckhead surrounding the two malls, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, and the major highrise office developments.
The DRC provides recommendations to the city planning department on the application, and often asks developers to make infrastructure improvements to the area. But when a project is meant be temporary, they don’t recommend they make improvements, Starling said.
There is nothing in the zoning code that outlines what a pop-up is, so it could be there permanently, she said. Starling said she is working with the city to address that, but otherwise believes pop up shipping containers are good developments.
“We want to see that. That is part of placemaking,” she said.
BUCKHEAD REdeFINED, the master plan that was completed last year, recommends shipping containers as part of a street activation program. The containers and other temporary infill retail like food trucks enhance street activity on vacant and underutilized land, such as plazas, surface parking lots and office lobby spaces, the master plan said.
The master plan proposed specific areas for shipping container pop-ups, such as the Buckhead Market Place, a shopping center at 77 Paces Ferry Place, and Cains Hill Place, a road in the Buckhead Village area.
The retail stores or restaurants for the project, led by Wisconsin-based GMR Marketing, have not been named. The total proposed interior space would be about 1,280 square feet. The proposed deck is about 1,184 square feet, according to the application.
Another example of a shopping center bringing a shipping container to its property includes Brash Coffee in the Westside Provisions District on Howell Mill Road.
The city announced last year that it is partnering with MARTA to create a shipping container development at the H.E. Holmes MARTA Station. Called The iVillage at MLK, it is meant to “provide affordable, transit-accessible retail and office space for small businesses,” according to a city press release.