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If Chick-fil-A's Owner Builds It, Will They Come?

Dan Cathy's Pinewood Forest Provides an Answer By Attracting Tenants to Site Adjacent to Pinewood Atlanta Studios
July 10, 2018
Pictured: Dan Cathy being interviewed by WSB-TV Atlanta at Pinewood Forest.

Photo Credit: Tony Wilbert of The CoStar Group.

When Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy announced plans for a new urbanist community on rural land 35 miles southwest of Atlanta, real estate watchers wondered whether retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers would open outposts in an area bereft of major development.

Local real estate watchers are wondering no more.

This week, Cathy's Pinewood Forest announced the latest in a string of tenants at the development adjacent to Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville, GA. Hop City, a bottle shop and craft bar in West Midtown, said it would open Hop City Craft Beer & Wine and its accompanying Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar at Pinewood Forest in late 2019. The tenant leased 5,500 square feet for the operation.

Cathy, whose father, the late Truett Cathy, founded the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain, decided to develop Pinewood Forest on 234 acres adjacent to Pinewood Studios to create an inclusive community on Atlanta's Southside, where he grew up. Pinewood Forest officially calls Cathy its "chief visionary."

The Chick-fil-A chief also oversees the Cathy family's River's Rock LLC trust that owns Pinewood Atlanta Studios with Pinewood Studios of England. With 18 sound stages spanning 700 acres, Pinewood Atlanta has emerged as a top filming location in the United States. Several blockbusters including Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: Homecoming were filmed at Pinewood Atlanta.

Cathy saw the opportunity to develop a mixed-use project with retail, restaurant and hotels to cater to film crews and movie stars, and provide homes for entrepreneurs, creative types and storytellers who wanted to live near each other. So far, the plan has worked. Pinewood Forest's first residents moved in last year.

Bill Lynch, a principal at Pace Lynch Corp., one of Pinewood Forest's development partners, said he expects the signing of Hop City to help attract additional commercial tenants. "The F&B lineup we are rolling out includes a great mix of some of the top talent in the Southeast, which we are confident will be well received by other concepts, our residents and the greater Atlanta community," Lynch told CoStar News.

Hop City will be the second food-and-beverage tenant in Pinewood Forest's "downtown" retail district. In February, James Beard grant-winner Tanya Jimenez and her husband Michael Le said they would open a Braise eatery at the development.

Pinewood Forest also has signed Piedmont Fayette Hospital, which is building a wellness facility at the development. Pinewood Forest is under contract with a group that will develop a luxury boutique hotel and extended-stay hotel at the site. Hay Creek Hotels and Restaurants, announced as a hospitality partner in 2016, no longer is involved, Lynch said.

Hop City and Barleygarden is designed to try to enable Pinewood Forest to be walkable. "The fact that our residents and guests will be able to walk from their home and enjoy a beer and a great meal is something unique on the south side of Atlanta," Pinewood Forest President Rob Parker said.

Tony Wilbert, Atlanta Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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