Real Estate News

Published on December 12th, 2016 |

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Bisnow Event Panels

While the official national state of the union address is several weeks away, civic and business leaders received a state of the metro area at a symposium, “Atlanta 2016 Roundup & Outlook”, sponsored by Bisnow, which featured panel discussions on two of the areas hot buttons: real estate and transportation.

And, not surprisingly, those two were intertwined with developers saying transportation is either helping development (Midtown and Downtown) or hindering the full development because there isn’t enough of it (Westside). In its own category is the Galleria area where immense development is taking place without the benefit of a sophisticated transportation system.

In the panel “Government, Transportation and Community Infrastructure,” Malaika Rivers, executive director of the Cumberland CID, said that transportation options are being “built into the fabric” of the area and particularly around the new Braves stadium in the Galleria area.

The immense Braves project has many wondering if there will be sufficient transportation options to handle the increased traffic, considering the area is already a frequent traffic bottleneck. Rivers emphasized that transportation is “not a social issue but an economic one, and the government needs to hear from you about the need for transportation.”

Tad Leithead, principal of TLA, acknowledges that the Braves complex is “very unprecedented” and he has “absolute confidence” that the incoming Cobb County chairman, Mike Boyce, has an agenda to handle the problem, “although we don’t know the details of what it will entail.”

Keith Parker, general manager and CEO of MARTA, says that the recent vote giving MARTA more money to expand will have an impact of building out more light rail, improving stations and providing the service that customers expect.

In terms of actual development, panelists said the area should see healthy growth, especially in submarkets such as Galleria, Sandy Springs, Midtown and Downtown, although possible economic problems may rear up in 2018 or 2019.

Right now the market is “riding the curve,” with development following job growth. Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Group, pointed out that the development of the downtown stadium for the Atlanta Falcons and adjacent residents is an overlap that “is very unique.”

The area is seeing a growth in apartments as well as office buildings; condos are not in a growth mode at the moment.  There is an anticipated 175,000 new jobs coming online in metro Atlanta within the next 24 months.  “Right now it’s a landlord market, especially in some submarkets, and especially in shared spaces such as a live, work environment. Millennials don’t want to drive,” says Mack Reese, president of Gateway Development.

However, with this growth will come a bit of a shock for tenants with significant rate increases. “Rents may go up as much as 15 percent,” he says. “It might get up to $300 to $350 a square foot, which is not a big deal in other cities, but is here.”

The “hot” submarkets include Sandy Springs, “which straddles the location of Millennials who want to take transportation to work and those who want to live in the suburbs with the good schools and tennis courts,” says Pat Henry, president of Daniel Corporation. Midtown and Downtown are hot, but when public transportation gets figured out, that area will grow even more than it is.” Buckhead is not in a particular growth mode, they all agreed.

However, there was a bit of a dark cloud, with some developers seeing a slowdown in 2018-19. “We’ve got a lot of inventory coming online and we’re hoping to get every project completed before then because we’re not sure the market will be as healthy then as now,” says Reese.

By Mary Welch

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