Fleet of Foot: Footwear Retailer Moving HQ to West Atlanta

September 07 2 min read

When the Athlete’s Foot eyed a new headquarters that would be young, up-and-coming and not stuffy, its CEO, Adam Chait, found his answer along the Beltline.

The Athlete’s Foot just inked a deal to relocate its US HQ from Wildwood Towers in Cumberland/Galleria to the Ellsworth, a 91k SF adaptive loft office project by Stream Realty’s Chris Dean and Kevin Driver. Adam tells us that while the 3200 Wildwood building was “a very nice building,” it just had a “very corporate feel to it.” While The Athlete’s Foot has roved the metro area with its HQ throughout its history—Norcross, Kennesaw and finally Cumberland—this is its first foray ITP, especially the coveted West Atlanta area. Colliers International’s Jeff Kelley and Drew Levine brokered the deal.

For Athlete’s Foot, The Ellsworth is as much branding as it is office, Adam says. The single-story office has an open floor plan, a “cool vintage feel with a modern look,” and most importantly, an all-glass garage door that overlooks the Beltline. It’s the kind of look that will impress the retailer’s vendors like Nike, Puma and Adidas, as well as help it recruit fresh talent into its ranks, Adam says. And make no mistake, being on the Beltline is a big branding statement these days. “It really shapes the way that [customers and clients] look at us,” Adam says. “I think it’s critically important.”

One of the most-watched urban renewal projects in the US, the Beltline’s impact on real estate cannot be overstated, as its path has bloomed a cottage industry of commercial redevelopment, crowned by Ponce City Market. And that popularity has made some tenants in those projects view the Beltline as a branding opportunity as much as simply a location. “Moving to the Beltline is not the only way to be cool, but it’s certainly a path,” says Cushman & Wakefield executive director Ken Ashley. “It’s breathtaking to see how quickly these markets are turning. Only a few years ago, they rolled up the sidewalks at night. Now the Beltline is part of the Millennial promised land.”

It’s also a statement about Athlete’s Foot, which itself has returned from the depths of bankruptcy in 2004 and is in “high double-digit rate” growth mode again, says Adam (here), who was tapped to be its CEO a year ago. In 2012, the firm was purchased by Intersport International Corp, one of the world’s largest sports apparel and equipment retailers with more than 5,000 stores around the globe. IIC saw The Athlete’s Foot, with nearly 500 stores worldwide, as a compelling entry point into the burgeoning athletic lifestyle space. Adam says the firm, and retailers of its ilk, are riding a consumer trend toward active lifestyles and casual attire. “I think there’s a tremendous and powerful shift with consumers who are into the athleisure lifestyle,” he says. And, as work attire has become increasingly informal, he says the athletic footwear “has really become a signature look in their wardrobe.” And, of course, being along the Beltline also capitalizes on that air of health, vitality and athleticism the retailer is aspiring for.


By: Jarred Schenke