Shopping with a Sense of Place
By the mid-1800s, Hardy Pace had amassed a fair amount of land in the hills northwest of Atlanta. In 1972, his great-great-granddaughter, Earle Carter Smith, sold a tract of that land in the heart of Vinings.
The buyer was Vinings resident Felix Cochran, a successful commercial real-estate developer. At the time, Cochran had no idea what he would do with the land (then known as the Ewing family property). Years afterward, he recounted that he made the purchase "to keep it from becoming a service station." Quite literally; apparently, someone had wanted to build a truck stop on the property.
Cochran’s land sat vacant for nearly 15 years, while he considered its best use and gathered community input, including that of Ruth Carter Vanneman, the sister of Earle Carter Smith. He decided to build a retail “town center,” with architecture reflecting the 19th century buildings nearby, including the Yarbrough House and Old Vinings Inn. He called it Vinings Jubilee.
To ensure a degree of historic accuracy, local architects studied the historic homes still standing in Vinings and designed the shops and restaurants for Vinings Jubilee in the same style and spirit.
"We wanted Vinings Jubilee to look as if a different family built each store," Cochran told Inside Cobb in 1986, when the first phase opened. "I wanted residential-scale buildings incorporating the quality and the charm of the little houses you find around the center of Vinings."
The shopping center's one-, two-, and three-story buildings have awnings, varying styles of shingle siding, brick archways and flower boxes. There are brick sidewalks, stately street lanterns, a water fountain and a clock tower.
"Something like this takes 10 times more work than your average project," Cochran said. "We could have built one million square feet instead of 68,000 and made lots more money, but this was the chance of a lifetime to have a lasting impact."
Since 1986, Vinings Jubilee has expanded several times, across the street and on adjacent parcels.
Felix Cochran was honored for his vision and community spirit in April 1996 by the Vinings Historic Preservation Society. He died just two months later.
Today, Vinings Jubilee retains its family ownership. Cochran’s company, Paces Properties, is owned by his son, David Cochran. Its office remains in Vinings Jubilee.