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Published on April 24th, 2015 |

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Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta opens with international soiree

Veteran Metro Atlanta real estate professional Shirley Gary and her team officially opened the Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta storefront “property shop” Thursday evening with an event that attracted nearly 400 revelers and spilled out into the streets of the OliverMcMillan development with music, food and celebration.

Engel & Volkers North America CEO Anthony Hitt, is whown in the new Buckhead Atlanta property shop with broker-parftner Shirley Gary, center, and Princess _____________,

Engel & Volkers North America CEO Anthony Hitt, is shown in the new Buckhead Atlanta property shop with broker-partner Shirley Gary, center, and Princess Bettina Wittgenstein, Head of Global Communications for the Hamburg, Germany-based real estate company.

Gary became a licensing partner of Engel & Völkers, one of the largest international luxury real estate brands, last spring but was working out of temporary space in Buckhead until the 1,800-square-foot “property shop” space could be completed at Buckhead Atlanta.

The storefront space, with retail-style display windows—highlighting properties Engel & Völkers represents here and internationally—faces Pharr Road, just east of Peachtree Road and is easily located because of its bright white façade and awnings.

Guests are shown arriving for the Thursday evening grand opening of the Engel & Volkers property shop on Pharr Road in the Buckhead Atlanta development.

Guests are shown arriving for the Thursday evening grand opening of the Engel & Volkers property shop on Pharr Road in the Buckhead Atlanta development.

An unusual concept for Atlanta real estate firms, the “property shop,” with its 35-foot long glass façade, is located adjacent to what will be the American Cut steakhouse and on the ground floor below the new Spanx headquarters at the Buckhead Atlanta development.

In response to Atlanta’s rising stature globally as a major international city for living, working and investing, Gary turned her 24-person team of About Sales, Inc., which she founded in 2007, into what now is a team of about 50 for the new flagship Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta.

Engel & Völkers approached Gary in 2013 to bring their luxury real estate brand to Atlanta’s Buckhead area and beyond. Founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1977, Engel & Völkers has become one of the largest luxury real estate brands in the world specializing in the sale and lease of premium residential and commercial property and yachts.

A  view of the facade of the new Engel & Volkers storefront on Pharr Road.

A view of the facade of the new Engel & Volkers storefront on Pharr Road.

“As part of Engel & Völkers’ global network that spans 38 countries and six continents, we offer our Atlanta clients access to a global audience,” says Gary. “At the same time, our in-depth expertise of the local market will greatly benefit international clients who are moving to Atlanta.”

Gary has been in real estate and new construction sales management throughout metro Atlanta for more than 20 years with such companies as Pulte Homes, DR Horton Homes, Sharon McSwain Homes and Paul Thomas Homes.

Broker-partner  Shirley Gary is shown welcoming guests to the property shop prior to the festivities on tghe streets of Buckhead Atlanta.

Broker-partner Shirley Gary is shown welcoming guests to the property shop prior to the festivities on tghe streets of Buckhead Atlanta.

As a licensing partner of Engel & Völkers, she purchased exclusive rights to open shops in six ZIP codes in Buckhead and the Vinings/Smyrna area. She also has rights to the area of Johns Creek, Milton and Roswell. She expects to open another property shop in about a year and plans two more in the Buckhead/Vinings/Smyrna area in her five-year plan.

The veteran real estate professional said she did eight months of research before deciding on the Buckhead Atlanta location for the new Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta property shop. And, she researched every shop locating in Buckhead Atlanta.

“This was a very strategic opening,” Gary told BuckheadView. “It offers top street exposure. This is a shop, not an office,” she stated. “Buckhead is the

An event guest is shown looking at the property photos displayed in the windows of the new property shop at Buckhead Atlanta.

An event guest is shown looking at the property photos displayed in the windows of the new property shop at Buckhead Atlanta.

most luxury market in Atlanta.” But she also quickly added, “Luxury is about great service, not a price point.”

She explained that Georgia is one of the top eight states for international buyers and about 60 percent of the retail shops locating at Buckhead Atlanta are out of Europe. “The people who can afford to shop the Buckhead Atlanta stores” are also her clients, she believes.

Those shoppers know the international retail brands at Buckhead Atlanta and she believes they also recognize Engel & Völkers as a premium international brand. Several of the shops at Buckhead Atlanta chose to stay open and offer perks to those attending the Engel & Völkers grand opening event Thursday night.

The Engel & Volkers party crowd filled the courtyard streets of Buckhead Atlanta for the private party.

The Engel & Volkers party crowd filled the courtyard streets of Buckhead Atlanta for the private party.

Gary said it was obvious that the 1,800 square feet of space in the “property shop” would not be large enough for hosting the almost 400 people who said they would attend the event. So she managed to get two streets behind her shop closed off for the party spill-over.

The food for the event was provided by the Buckhead Atlanta restaurants, there was music by a jazz quartet and the streets of the courtyard area surrounding Le Bilboquet were was transformed into an area of comfortable sofas, chairs and tables and Engel & Völkers promotional pieces on properties around the world.

Mayor Kasim Reed participated in the ribbon cutting for the new office and spoke briefly, along with Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North

Mayor Kasim Reed is shown greeting, from left, Princess Bettinger Whittgenstein, Anthony Hitt  and Shirley Gary.

Mayor Kasim Reed is shown talking with , from left, Princess Bettina Wittgenstein, Anthony Hitt and Shirley Gary.

America, Princess Bettina Wittgenstein, Head of Global Communications for Engel & Völkers AG, and, of course, Gary.

Gary pointed out to the crowd attending that Engel & Völkers is the first truly international real estate firm to open an office in Buckhead and Atlanta.

Since being founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1977, Engel & Völkers currently operates a global network of more than 4,700 real estate advisors in almost 600 offices spanning 38 countries across six continents. It established its North America corporate headquarters and opened its first brokerage in south Florida in 2007. It opened a Midtown Atlanta office last year.

From left, North America CEO Anthony Hitt, Head of Global Communications Princess Bettina Wittgenstein and the firm's Executive  Vice President of U.S. Operations Tom Kunz.

From left, North America CEO Anthony Hitt, Head of Global Communications Princess Bettina Wittgenstein and the firm’s Executive Vice President of U.S. Operations Tom Kunz.

North America CEO Hitt told BuckheadView in an interview Thursday and recounted to the audience, “We are where our clients are, in the world’s best locations. Buckhead certainly is one of those locations.”

He said the firm at the moment has 63 offices in the U.S. and close to 90 in North America. He said he hopes to have 200 offices in the U.S. by 2020.

Hitt told BuckheadView the company has a very aggressive expansion plan, but is “not the biggest and we have no design on being biggest. We want to do it right.” He said the DNA of the company is different from other real estate firms. “We come from a different place and have a different culture.”

He said the expansion plan “is based on where people vacation and move to. A lot of Europeans love Miami, love the beaches. Polo is something that

One of the food stations at the street party Thursday night.

One of the food stations at the street party Thursday night.

is in our DNA” because it is in the DNA of a lot of the firm’s clients. There is a lot of equestrian interests around Buckhead and the Atlanta area, he added.

“Our shop concept is iconic,” Hitt explained. “It is sort of like an Apple store. You go around the world and you will always be able to recognize an Engel & Völkers property shop. It is familiar to our clients and potential clients.” He said it tells these clients they are getting the same premium service wherever they go throughout the world. Other real estate companies are not as consistent, he added.

Broker-partner Shirley Gary discusses one of the property displays with Mayor Kasim Reed at the grand opening party.

Broker-partner Shirley Gary discusses one of the property displays with Mayor Kasim Reed at the grand opening party.

Gary reiterated that in an interview with BuckheadView April 21. She said you can ride around the Atlanta market and find real estate signs almost next to each other in a neighborhood that are from the same real estate firm, but they look very different. She said the same is true of other marketing materials.

“Engel & Völkers is very protective of its brand,” Gary said, pointing out the property stores, marketing materials, etc. all are consistent globally. “That is what luxury marketing is all about,” she added.

While Gary described Engel & Völkers in an interview with BuckheadView as a “luxury” real estate company, Hitt said he prefers to use the word “premium.” But the message from both was the same: “Luxury (or premium) is about great service, not about a price point.”

Hitt added, “We represent premium properties at every price point.” But he admits the firm may be best known for its representation of European

Mayor Kasim Reed  custs the ribbon officially opening the Engel & Volkers Buckhead Atlanta property store with, with Anthony Hitt, Shirley Gary and Princess Bettina Wittgenstein.

Mayor Kasim Reed custs the ribbon officially opening the Engel & Volkers Buckhead Atlanta property store with, with Anthony Hitt, Shirley Gary and Princess Bettina Wittgenstein.

castles and very large and expensive yachts. The window at Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta also includes the picture of a $200,000 Atlanta area residence.

After Mayor Reed was introduced by Princess Wittgenstein, he pointed out that he had never been introduced by a princess before and was happy that she had flown in from Germany just for

the event.

Pointing out that Atlanta now ranks among the top 30 cities internationally, he said many of the people who live around the world in those cities and know the Engel & Völkers brand could well end up moving to Atlanta.

Reed predicted that the Buckhead Atlanta office would produce a good return on investment and profit for Engel & Völkers as Atlanta continues to grow as an international destination for vacation travelers and those seeking a new home here.

He also said he would be leaving the city as mayor soon and joining some law firm and may well be using Engel & Völkers to find a new home. But he quickly added, “Not until after I leave office.”

The party began winding down after the official ribbon cutting to open the Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta office, which was performed by the Atlanta mayor, a German princess, the company’s North America CEO and Gary, the broker-partner of the local office. But the property shop was open for business first thing Friday morning.

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