Atlanta's Phipps Plaza may once again be the high-end luxury mall it was intended to be. Owner Simon Property Group struck a deal with Nordstrom to fill the anchor space vacated by Lord & Taylor earlier this month. May Co., owner of Lord & Taylor and its anchor building, agreed to sell the space back to Simon.

The new, 135,000-square-foot Nordstrom, Atlanta's third, will open in spring 2005. The chain already operates in Rouse's Perimeter Mall and Simon's Mall of Georgia in Atlanta's northern suburbs. But Phipps Plaza's prime spot in the center of the city's tony Buckhead district will give Nordstrom easier access to moneyed locals and the many tourists from across the Southeast who flock to Buckhead to shop. “We look forward to having all three locations,” says Nordstrom spokesperson Sharon Richardson, adding that the retailer's Mall of Georgia store, which opened in 2000, is doing “fine.” Mall of Georgia's Lord & Taylor store is set to close, though no date has been set.

The Lord & Taylor store will be empty for a year, but landing Nordstrom is key to Simon's strategy for Phipps. Pundits say Lord & Taylor's merchandise was a bit too middle market for the center's chi-chi clientele, although the department store had been an anchor since 1968. Other anchors include Saks Fifth Avenue, Parisian and a cineplex. Simon purchased the mall in 1998 and sought to re-energize it by luring in more mainstream tenants such as Gap to join the highbrow lineup of existing tenants, which include Gianni Versace and Tiffany & Co. At one point, Simon dubbed it a mall in transition. But Phipps has come a long way in just two years, snagging such retailers as Tommy Bahama, Max Mara and Giorgio Armani's new Black Label haute couture boutique. Cataloger Frontage also opened its first store in Phipps last fall.

Phipps Plaza pulled in sales per square foot of $600 in 2002, compared to $500 in 2000, according to Greenberg Group. Shopper traffic is estimated at 8 million per year.