Community News

Published on February 23rd, 2017 |


Massell turns fortune teller for Buckhead 2020 in State of Community address

By John Schaffner

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell has worn many hats as a native Atlantan—politically as a city alderman and mayor, in real estate brokerage, in the field of tourism, and association management—but Thursday he became a fortune teller in his State of Community address to the Buckhead Business Association.

Massell, who moved to Buckhead when he was 25 years old, has witnessed many changes in the ensuing 65 years, 2016 being no exception, he told the BBA’s breakfast meeting at the City Club of Buckhead.

A reporter interviews Buckhead Coalition President following his State of Community address to the Buckhead Business Association Feb. 23.

“Unless you are visually impaired, all you need do is drive Peachtree, Piedmont, Roswell, Paces Ferry and other major arteries to see that Buckhead is booming,” Massell remarked. “As the physical center of the 20-county Atlanta Metropolitan Region, and Georgia’s gateway to government services, performing arts, professional sports, and more, we affect its six-plus-million population,”

Before turning fortune teller, Massell referenced the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s annual Book Of Lists for some present Buckhead facts: “Seven of the top 10 commercial property management firms are located in Buckhead; seven of the top 10 financial planning firms are here; six of the top 10 commercial mortgage banks; six of the top 10 private equity firms, and six of the top 10 restaurants.”

The Buckhead Guidebook, an annual publication of the Coalition and “the bible of Realtors, journalists, politicians, and newcomers, lists for us 15,937 new rental apartment units in various stages of development in Buckhead, representing a 125% increase over the past five years,” Massell added.

“Trivia can always generate a smile,” Massell told the crowded house, “so consider the following:  The St. Regis Hotel offers its 10-floor 2800-square-foot Empress Suite at $6,000 per night.

Part of the audience who attended the speech of Sam Massell to the Buckhead Business Associatoon at the City Club of Buckhead.

Airbnb’s number one most-liked property in the world is a three-room treehouse here at $350 to $400 per night. McKinnon’s Stuffed Eggplant dish comes with a $25 gift certificate for expecting mothers not delivering in 48 hours. Three of our neighborhoods are in the top 54 in the country in mean household income (Kingswood/Randall Mill @ $391,775; Wingate/Habersham @ $441,751; and Chastain Park @ $460,280). Peachtree Presbyterian Church has the largest Presbyterian congregation in the country, and 75 percent of Buckhead’s residents over 25 years of age have a bachelor’s degree or more.”

After laying out today’s landscape, it was time for Massell to turn fortune teller, “To give us all an idea of what this place may be like in the year 2020, just 36 months from now” using as a base data in the new 2017 Buckhead Coalition’s Guidebook. “With my definitely unscientific method, I present you with the following samples. In the year twenty-twenty, it’s predicted for Buckhead that:

  • The average annual office square foot rental rate (which is now $32.54) will rise to $43.18;
  • The average Buckhead office building vacancy rate (now 11.1%) will be only 3.1 percent;
  • $141,740 will be the average commercial land sales price per sq.ft. (now at $91.97).
  • Annual retail sales in Buckhead (now $2,961,249,301) will rise almost a billion dollars to $3,744,125,000;
  • 81.32 percent will be the average hotel occupancy rate, up from 78.9 percent now; and
  • The estimated population of Buckhead will rise from the present 87,314 to 91,487.

“I have had the good fortune to witness Buckhead flourish, being identified as ‘The Beverly Hills of the East’, elevated to the stage where Beverly Hills can be proudly called ‘The Buckhead of the West’,” Massell reminisced.

“Occupying about 20 percent of Atlanta’s geography, and housing about 20 percent of its population, while paying about 45 percent of the city’s ad valorem taxes, certainly places us as a significant supporter of this city.  At the same time, Atlanta is certainly extremely relevant to Buckhead,” the former mayor stated.

“We continue to benefit from numerous civic operations such as the Buckhead Community Improvement District, the Buckhead Rotary Club, the Buckhead Christian Ministry, certainly the Buckhead Business Association, and many others (as listed in our Guidebook).  Most importantly, we constantly enjoy a healthy relationship with City Hall and other governmental entities,” Massell added.

“Mayor Kasim Reed has given us able stewardship in my opinion, protecting and projecting the city’s fiscal and physical states,” Massell reported. “In this partnership, I’m pleased to report that he has pledged to include Buckhead in the Federally funded National “Smart Cities Initiatives” which is expected to roll out across our city over the next five to six years.  This is a program of sophisticated collection of data for more efficient deployment of management modes,” he explained.

“Our Community will find itself increasingly on the cutting edge of high-tech operations, now described as the “Internet of Things” (IoT).  Interests being addressed include improved multi-mode transport, public safety, and water-waste-air.  Familiar specifics incorporate security cameras, license plate readers, gunshot sensors, synchronized traffic signals, etc.,” announced Massell.

The former Atlanta mayor and Alderman (forerunner to City Council) told the audience the importance of giving high priority to this year’s non-partisan city elections. The Buckhead Coalition devoted its annual meeting and luncheon to an introduction of eight of the mayoralty candidates, with more expected to announce.

“It should be noted that four of these individuals are from the Council, and that three other Council members have announced they will be running for the Council President’s seat, meaning seven—or almost one-half of the Council—will be new,” he explained.

“Added to that are two or more members of the Board of Education seeking Council seats, so we will be facing musical chair turnover like none other witnessed in recent contests,” Massell pointed out.

“The City’s good shape financially and otherwise is part of what has attracted such a proliferation of contestants, but also gives emphasis to the importance of such an election year, and the need to become informed and involved,” Massell concluded. “It’s up to you now!”

(Massell was Atlanta’s mayor from 1970-73 and has been the coalition’s president since its founding in 1988. The coalition is an invitation-only, chamber-like organization of 100 CEOs promoting Buckhead.)

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