Legoland to open 32,000-square-foot ‘Discovery Center’ at Phipps Plaza

Caleb J. Spivakreal estate, retail, whats in - atlanta retail?39 Comments

Entering the Atlanta market, brick by tiny plastic brick.

UPDATE (Nov. 14, 2011): Revealed! Detailed renderings of Legoland’s $12 million ‘Discovery Center’ at Phipps Plaza

map of legoland discovery center chicago ~ what now, atlanta?

Phipps Plaza, known for its upscale retailers like Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Versace, is receiving a Legoland Discovery Center, an indoor attraction and retail store of the iconic plastic brick.

Merlin Entertainments Group, the company that builds and operates Legoland theme parks, has been scouting sites in metro Atlanta for its Legoland Discovery Center concept since 2008.

The company considered sites in Alpharetta near North Point Mall, Atlantic Station in Midtown, the downtown area, and the Buckhead area near Phipps Plaza.

Located at 3500 Peachtree Road NE, the $12 million center is slated to open spring 2012. The company filed a building permit on Feb. 11 to initiate phase one of construction.

“Legoland Discovery Center Phase one: Demo of existing tenant spaces (existing food court).”

Taking 32,000 square feet, the attraction is expected to be built in the food court of the Buckhead mall. Food court tenants currently at Phipps Plaza include Subway, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Johnny Rockets. Which food court tenants may be affected by the new store construction is not confirmed.

The original three Legoland Discovery Centers in the world are in Chicago, and Berlin and Duisburg, Germany. Most recently, a location opened in Manchester and Dallas Fort Worth here in the states.

Inside a 30,000- to 35,000-square-foot Legoland Discovery Center, which is about the size of a newer Best Buy store, is a 4-D movie theater, a play area, a Dragon Castle Ride, a Build and Test area, and other interactive stations, all built with and around the iconic plastic bricks.

The Chicago center, pictured above, is about 32,000 square feet. Admission prices are $19 for adults and $15 for children. The retail portion of Legoland Discovery Center is open to the public without charge.

Like the Chicago center, Atlanta’s Legoland will have a scale-model city skyline. Some of the center’s attractions include the Dragon Castle Ride and the Jungle Expedition.

Plans and designs are already being drawn up for the site, and construction is expected to begin in July, with the Legoland Discovery Center due to open in March 2012. Models for Atlanta will be made in Merlin’s specialist studios around the world and shipped in during construction.

Legoland Discovery Center will likely be the only one of its kind in the Southeast.

Needless to say, we’re shocked Phipps was the chosen location for the indoor attraction and Lego retail store.

So, will this new location aid in building Atlanta up or did parent company Merlin Entertainments Group miss a piece or two in their plan?– tell us!

Legoland Discovery Center
3500 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta GA, 30326

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Caleb J. SpivakLegoland to open 32,000-square-foot ‘Discovery Center’ at Phipps Plaza

39 Comments on “Legoland to open 32,000-square-foot ‘Discovery Center’ at Phipps Plaza”

  1. SB

    There’s a ton of vacancy in that mall but I still can’t picture exactly where this would be located within the mall. Great get for Simon/Phipps. They must have given away the house on rental rate figuring this will attract in a bevy of smaller high-paying tenants making it worthwhile.

  2. Jonathan

    I don’t understand it, personally. While I totally understand Simon wanting to win this over Atlantic Station, this just does not fit Phipps unless Simon is in the midst of repositioning Phipps.

    I would have liked to have seen this as part of the revamping of Atlantic Station.

  3. SB

    I believe Davio’s Steakhouse took most of the Nike space. And if memory serves, there was a fashion tenant mentioned for taking the rest of the space. 30k SF is a lot of space, there must be a big hole there somewhere or Simon is paying some tenants to move.

    It’s fair to want this at Atlantic Station, but Lego has been soliciting lease proposals for 6 months at least. It’s a long process for them to get to this point and Atlantic Station likely wasn’t in the ball game for much or any of that time. Lego I’m sure is a responsible company but it’s not their focus to locate in the place that might best serve Atlanta’s future, but rather to serve their own business interests.

  4. Laura

    I see this as an act of desperation. As a native Buckheadite, this is bad news for Phipps image…wth are they thinking??

  5. Jon

    This is better than North Point but ugh this is a punch in the gut for those of us pulling for retail density in Midtown. “Central Buckhead” is such an island and not at all cohesive with the rest of the intown neighborhoods, but unfortunately that’s where all the retailers we wish were in midtown are located. I’m hoping Atlantic Station’s “ant-mall” rebranding drives some of the more traditional retailers to Peachtree Street if the national guys leave the market all together it’ll be back to the pre AS days of braving the peachtree traffic all the way to Lenox just to buy a sweater.

  6. Amy

    People are asking where it would go – it states right in the article that they’re clearing out the existing food court for it. Lego likely found Atlantic Station to be too risky in it’s current state. Look at how long Phipps has been around and the type of clientelle there. Think of all the wealthy people who already shop there and will now bring their kids along. Unfortunate for those of us who want Atlantic Station change, but likely a smart choice for Lego.

  7. joeATL

    Wow wow great news!

    Also opening in the near future, is Legoland Florida at the former Cypress Gardens park.

  8. MG

    I thought Dowtown near Olympic Park would have been better… but I guess they are looking for an existing space rather than having to build one completely from scratch. Oh well.

  9. Mike

    Great… inside a mall. Just like everything in Atlanta, it will have zero visibility. This should have been Downtown with the other attractions!!

  10. Inman Parker

    This is disappointing. Buckhead is one of the main reasons that Atlanta is an average city. We have things to do in Atlanta, but they are too spread out. Midtown and Downtown need to be the focus, not an area with a bunch of non cohesive skyscrapers surrounding a suburban style mall.

  11. VT

    Its a mistake to put it there. Would have been better in Midtown, which has the fastest growing young, upwardly mobile, educated family population in Georgia.

  12. Suzy

    Very exciting. And glad it’s at Phipps and not at Atlantic Station. Love the idea of Atlantic Station, but have been down there several times after dinner to hang out or have dessert and coffee and it is mob scene and seems like a Gang Hangout.. Very scary.

  13. SB

    VT and others – you are confusing the issue. This is not an economic development initiative. This is not the aquarium, future Center for Civil and Human Rights, etc working with the City or County to make a decision for Atlanta’s benefit. In those cases, tax incentives, grants, use of public land come into play.

    This is a private corporation making a business decision. They are focused on a) the right lease deal and b) demographics — where can we reach most of our target market.

    Demographic rings from a site like STBD.com tell the whole story. I am an in-town guy, I hate on the burbs constantly, but Lego’s is looking at ring demographics — besides Avg HHI, how many households are within 5-10 miles, what are the size of those households, how many children per household. I rarely ever get north to Duluth, Alpharetta, Cumming, etc but when I do, I am floored at the ENDLESS amount of houses. It’s nauseating but it’s what matters. That is what Lego is looking at (and what the Puppetry Center and other children-geared attractions worry about).

    Buckhead is a compromise for In-Town folks like us. We should be ecstatic it isn’t going near Northpoint or Mall of Georgia. I am shocked they didn’t choose one of those two locations. It’s likely because Buckhead would allow them to reach all those folks and ALSO the in-town areas. Be happy this attraction is 15 minutes from you, not 40 minutes.

    And quit whining about how far Buckhead is from Midtown. People drive from Canton to Buckhead for work everyday and I think they are lunatics, but as a fellow in-town resident we sound like lunatics to complain that Buckhead is so far from Midtown or Decatur. Please.

  14. Eric

    HOORAY! As a midtown resident, I’m just happy to hear that Legoland will be inside the perimeter. My mom gave away my massive Lego collection when I went off to college. (I have never forgiven her.) $19 admission? No problem! Tell those tots to make way for a 47 year-old kid!

  15. The Brick Show

    Yes!! Can’t wait for this and glad to see a LEGO store is also included. The one in Discover Mills is pretty small and with a big city like Atlanta with needed a bigger LEGO presence here.

  16. Yup

    Don’t let the “Only 3 in the world” statement fool you into thinking this is going to be a huge draw of tourism. I believe the parent company is expanding this concept even more. There is a Legoland Discovery Center opening next to the same company’s Sea Life Aquarium concept in the suburbs of Dallas by this summer.

  17. Yup

    Downtown would have been nice but their Chicago and Dallas locations are in suburban type areas also. They want to target a certain demographic.

  18. Buck

    AWESOME this isn’t going in at Atlantic Station. I’m a Midtown native and I won’t step foot back in that Thug City. Try it down by the Publix on a Friday or Saturday evening/night without an Ed Hardy outfit and MARTA Breeze card in your back pocket and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about…

    And I can’t imagine tourists, families and people from metro ATL’s ‘burbs commuting downtown to infuse city tax coffers in the type of environment Atlantic Station supports. Their first visit there would be their last.

    Still, Phipps? Really? Legoland/Merlin Ent Group site scouts must’ve gotten a slammin’ deal on space at Phipps to land the venue there.

    Either way, great, wholesome attraction for Atlanta.

    Great scoop, too, Caleb!

    Buck up!

  19. Gabrielle

    What an awesome idea!! : The kids are now going to want to go to Phipps and play (they are also the future shoppers of Phipps!!)
    Mom and older siblings can shop and let Dad(or the other way around) watch the younger ones (good for the other businesses and Phipps)
    It gets the kids away from their Xbox, computers, texting, and actually doing something that might improve their little minds!!
    Kudos!!!

  20. James

    There is no way that Legoland would have gone into Atlantic Station, the pieces are so small that the individuals that frequent A.S., would have just pocketed them.

    I was in GAP the other day and there was a young lady who commented as she was leaving; “I spent almost $200, you think she could have cut a sister some slack” ….typically A.S. patron.

    Atlantic Station has way to much work on its hands before anyone considers moving in, which means there’s going to be a lot of vacant space! Any commercial retail group looking for space is going to read all of the posting online and ask for huge HUGE rent breaks.

    Its going to take Atlantic Station 4-5 years, before it sees any changes that are going to be worth mentioning again. The next time I read anything about Atlantic Station, will because there was a a gun pulled or someone’s cell phone got stolen.

    LEGOLAND, knows its demographics and knows where the money is going to ome from. BUCKHEAD – PHIPPS PLAZE, plan and simple.

    Smart move LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER, I’m going, just because it won’t be at Atlantic Station.

  21. Dianne

    Makes perfect sense to me. Commercial real estate market overall is in horrible shape and tenants, as well as, attendance at this expensive trendy mall is at an all time low. I wouldn’t think of going to this mall with my children but now I can’t wait until this opens.

  22. Juliea

    Good news for the city! It’s convenient for intowners as well as suburbanites. I was expecting them to put this out at Northpoint.

  23. Liz

    Appears that Sbarro, the chinese place and Johnny Rockets have all closed. Assuming that Great Wraps will be shortly behind since it’s in between all of them. The stores near that end of the food court have all emptied out or are in the process.

  24. SB

    Woah Johnny Rockets closed? I was just there last Thursday and it was there. But did see Sbarros gone — they were only there maybe 12-18 mths replacing the former pizza place. I’m guessing Simon gave them a sweetheart deal to take the space as-is to give the mall some pizza.

  25. JMom

    I think it’s a win-win for both! Though Phipps may not be the most kid-friendly place, maybe they will open more children’s boutique stores. Phipps is where the money is and Lego is a high quality name. Not to mention that the price of admission isn’t cheap. Plus, this will be a tourist attraction and Phipps is easy access via Marta for the out of towners. I love it – and can’t wait for it to open. I hope my son enjoys it as much as I think he will!

  26. Shelley

    Worst news I’ve heard in a long time. Did these people look around Phipps??? Most people I know go there because no kids are there. After one day of listening to the playpit at Northpoint Mall I never went back. The noise level itself is enough to never go back to the mall. Stupid move Phipps. I have spoken to a few who work there and they said they dread the day it opens. Big mistake. Let’s count how many of the high end stores are there a year after it opens.

  27. Judy Ray

    Just returned from LegoLand in Florida. Had a blast. Really disappointed to find this in such an odd location. Probably won’t visit. This would have been a great attraction some where closer to the suburbs…………………what about Gwinnett?

  28. Jeff

    Just left Phipps Plaza. The Lego Land is where the Food Court used to be. It basically took over the whole third floor. I my opinion, it just doesn’t fit the Phipps Plaza image. I don’t see it lasting. I am sure once you take your kids once, you will have no need to go again. It may seem expensive to the average person. I can onlt imagine what there rent will be with all that space and causing about 8+ food chains to close.

    Good luck Lego,

    I think you are going to need it.

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