It looks like Publix won’t be coming to Avondale Estates anytime soon. That’s after a development plan six years in the making went under.
At the end of January, the Avondale Estates city commission voted to stop working with Century Retail, a Florida-based developer that filed for bankruptcy last fall. Century Retail had planned to build a mixed-use development on 5.6 acres in the city’s downtown area.
Now that the city’s relationship with Century Retail is over, Avondale officials have received more calls in the past two weeks than in the past two years about the property.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from other developers,” Avondale mayor Ed Rieker said. “It’s actually been a positive outcome.”
A 28,800-square-foot Publix would have been the anchor grocery store of the Century Retail shopping center. The company expected the development to attract a day spa, dry cleaner, jewelry store, electronics store, family practitioners, boutique store, office supply store, book store, souvenir shop, florist and card store.
There would have been underground and store level parking and 80 luxury multi-family units with one or two bedrooms.
According to the company website, Century Retail has five such properties in Georgia, including the 30,000-square-foot Century Shoppes of Grove Park on Powder Springs Road in Marietta.
Originally, Century Retail planned to start construction in late 2007 with completion scheduled in late 2009.
A two-story, steel-and-aluminum skeletal frame of the only building that got started reminds residents of a failed economy and unfulfilled plans. The building, which has not been touched in more than two years, was supposed to be the new location of Finders Keepers, a local consignment shop.
Now, the city has to wait for a Florida bankruptcy judge to decide what will happen to the property.
“They’re still the property owners,” Avondale City Manager Clai Brown said about the Century Retail developers.
The judge could make one of several decisions, including foreclosing on the property, Brown said.
The failed Publix development is adjacent to the vacant 13.7-acre Fenner Dunlop property. Fenner Dunlop, formerly known as Georgia Duck and Cordage Mill, was founded in 1916. The company moved its headquarters from DeKalb County to Pittsburgh, Pa., in November 2009.
Avondale Estates city officials want to turn the Fenner Dunlop property into a vibrant, multi-use development. In December, the city annexed approximately nine acres of the property, which were in unincorporated DeKalb County.
Combined, the Fenner Dunlop and Century Retail properties total nearly 20 acres of prime, mixed-use real estate in a city that wants to be known as developer-friendly.
“It’s a gem of a piece of property,” Rieker said.