What Does Reopening Shopping Malls Look Like During Coronavirus Pandemic? Avalon Gives It a Go

'Better Together' program 'aims to lead the community out of isolation,' will be used at Midtown's Colony Square.
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In addition to our normal news coverage, What Now Atlanta is tracking ways Atlanta’s businesses are adapting to the novel coronavirus and the challenges it brings to brick-and-mortars.

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North American Properties (NAP) Monday unveiled its COVID-19 response program at Avalon, an 86-acre mixed-use community in Alpharetta.

Known as “Better Together,” the program outlines NAP’s steps to reprogram Avalon’s common areas and enforce rules around social distancing and cleanliness.

As part of the program, Avalon has updated its Code of Conduct to include policies created through guidelines provided by the C.D.C. and other government agencies (which will be updated regularly to “meet the latest recommendations and disinfection procedures.”) 

Since 2014, Avalon has hosted more than 200 events per year, a spokesperson in an email Monday told What Now Atlanta.

“In the wake of COVID-19, the team is reworking its event programming strategy to offer exciting experiences while following new protocols.”

The Avalon team will conduct a survey on social media this week to poll the community on the types of events they are comfortable attending over the next several months, such as drive-in concerts and outdoor yoga classes with mats six feet apart.

“We all have an innate need for love, belonging, and human connection,” Mark Toro, chairman of the board of NAP Atlanta, said.

“While sheltering in place has been an important and necessary step in our country’s response to COVID-19, we have also been starved of gathering with our communities. We established our Better Together Program to lead our communities out of isolation and bring people together again, safely.”

The Better Together program encompasses the following measures, which have now been enacted at Avalon:

  • Avalon’s 24/7 security are policing the property to ensure guests follow the property’s Code of Conduct. Law enforcement will also be on site to provide support.
  • The sidewalks have been turned into one-way streets for pedestrians, with directional decals guiding guests counterclockwise through the property.
  • A grid system will be installed at Avalon’s Plaza, visibly separating 6-foot spaces using floor decals and a shade structure. Palmer Plaza, located between Oak Steakhouse and Colletta, will also be separated into 6-foot zones to further enforce social distancing.
  • Floor decals provide guidance on how far guests should stand from each other while waiting in line throughout common areas.
  • All property employees have been asked to monitor their health and temperature daily. They have also been provided with protective face coverings and gloves.
  • Avalon is working closely with tenants to provide resources such as free cleanings of touchpoints (i.e. door handles, point of sale systems) and storage for furniture that may need to be removed to allow for social distancing within stores/restaurants.
  • Furniture in common spaces throughout property has been spaced out with marked placers to ensure 6 feet of separation between parties.
  • Dividers have been installed at standing bars throughout the property.
  • The doors to Avalon’s Family Lounge are propped open during property hours. The play area will remain closed until further notice.
  • The Dog Park’s gates will feature new foot door openers.
  • Cleaning and sterilization of high-touch areas, such as bathrooms, bar surfaces, door handles and benches, takes place every 30 minutes.
  • Parking meters along Avalon Boulevard will remain complimentary to guests, allowing for ease of access and curbside pickup. 
  • New signage has been installed throughout the property reinforcing safety procedures and the Code of Conduct. Touchscreen digital directories are now static.
  • New hand sanitizer stations have been installed at all property entrance points, the valet, Concierge and in high-traffic common areas.
  • Valeted cars will be sanitized.

Out of the 95 retailers and restaurants at Avalon, five will reopen this week in addition to those that have operated in limited capacities.

Van Michael Salon and Parisian Nails have started accepting appointments and are acting in accordance with the procedures outlined by the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers.

Barleygarden Kitchen and Craft Bar, District III, and MF Bar will reopen patios with tables spaced six feet apart, in addition to take-out services.

Whole Foods Market and Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru have remained open throughout the crisis.

Antico, Bocado Burger, Café Intermezzo, Cru Wine Bar, Colletta, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Kona Grill, Marlow’s Tavern, Oak Steakhouse, Rumi’s Kitchen, Superica, Starbucks and Ted’s Montana Grill continue to offer to-go and delivery orders.

The Hotel at Avalon also remains open and operational.

“We support all of our tenants in their reopening decisions and encourage our guests to use their own best judgment on when it is safe to return to public spaces,” Tim Perry, managing partner at NAP, said.

“No matter what our tenants and guests decide, we will be here, ready to safely welcome the community back to Avalon. Some of the changes we are making will be temporary, others may be here to stay. For us, the constant is community and creating places where people want to be.”

NAP will customize its Better Together Program for its other mixed-use properties, which include Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta and Newport on the Levee in Newport, Kentucky.

The program was created by a 14-person task force of people who work on all side of the company and guided by the action and direction of the CDC and local and national authorities.


[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]

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