Southlake under new management

By Ed Brock

Cris Burgum is feeling good about his future as manager of Southlake Mall.

Today the 33-year-old married father of two will attend a mall meeting where he'll be able to gauge what the managers in the mall's stores want to see in that future.

"I'm interested in hearing what he has to say," Spencer's manager Mariana Pannell said. "I'd like the mall to get more active, doing the things we used to do like the sidewalk sales."

Burgum came to work for General Growth Properties Inc., the mall's owners, in late June after spending almost the past two years as an assistant manager at Discovery Mills mall in Lawrenceville.

"This was a good opportunity for me. It's a solid property," Burgum said.

So far Burgum has been adjusting to the ins and outs of being not only in a new location but working for a different company.

"You can't really go anywhere unless you know who to talk to, who's over what," Burgum said.

He's also still commuting from his home in Suwanee and hasn't decided yet if he will move.

Born in Philadelphia, Burgum also lived in Detroit and Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. He was working for tractor equipment company Ford-New Holland when he came to Atlanta in 1996.

His new mall has strong potential, Burgum said.

"I like the fact that it's in good shape," Burgum said. "It seems to have been well maintained."

Having a carousel in the food court is another plus and Burgum said he wants to capitalize on that family atmosphere.

"I would certainly like to continue to improve the customer's experience," Burgum said.

Still missing from the mall's 120 storefronts is a replacement for the Macy's store that closed in April. Burgum said he couldn't give many details on what will come next there, but he did say that they are actively pursuing a company to fill the anchor space.

"I think it's important in terms of bringing the synergy of the mall together," Burgum said.

Meanwhile, the mall recently brought in three new specialty stores.

"There are good options for the consumer here. We're leased up," Burgum said. "It's an inviting atmosphere for the customer."

So far his dealings with the city of Morrow have been good, too, Burgum said, and the new manager has made a good impression on city officials as well.

"It looks like he's on the ball," Morrow City Manger John Lampl said.

Lampl was also non-committal on what will take the place of Macy's.

"The area as a whole is being looked at aggressively," he said.

And so far Burgum is fitting in well with the members of his staff.

"I think he's a great addition to the team," said Nicole Krajc, the mall's marketing director.