Atlanta’s Edge Cities: Alive and Well
Atlanta's Edge Cities are creating downtown centers, like Sandy Spring's City Springs, to offer amenities to attract future residents to the area, like the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center

Atlanta’s Edge Cities: Alive and Well

3 years ago 0 0 1642

Two years ago, in Atlanta’s Edge Cities Develop New City Centers, I focused on how several of Atlanta’s edge cities, like Sandy Springs and Alpharetta, were attempting to create an “attractive sense of place.” This trend continues today, with Sandy Springs’ continued development, Roswell’s success and Peachtree Corners’ growth. More millennials are in their 30’s, and they’re looking for affordable housing in Atlanta to own, proximity to quality schools and work, convenience and, above all, a sense of place. With the rise of multi-use developments and entertainment centers in Atlanta’s suburbs, these folks are settling more and more in edge cities. Let’s take a closer look at some of these communities: Sandy Springs In my first blog, City Springs, the soon-to-be 14-acre civic and cultural center of Sandy Springs, was still renderings and plans, but earlier this year, it announced its first [retail] tenants, with construction expected to reach completion

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Altanta BeltLine Westside Trail

Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail: Open for Business?

3 years ago 0 0 1463

My partner and I recently looked at a property on the newly-opened Westside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. This got me thinking about one of blogs I wrote last year, “The Atlanta BeltLine: Will the Westside Trail Match the Eastside Trail’s Success?”. In that blog, I suggested the expectation that the Westside Trail’s success would equal the Eastside Trail’s success was unrealistic. With the Westside Trail now open for six months, it’s a good time to consider what’s happening in the area and whether it’s a good place to invest. Westside Trail: A Description On its website, the Atlanta BeltLine describes itself as “a transportation and redevelopment initiative.” The Westside Trail, a $43 million project, is the largest section of the BeltLine yet—it runs from University Avenue between Oakland City and West End MARTA rail stations up to Washington Park, near the Ashby MARTA rail station. The Atlanta BeltLine sees

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Should Atlanta Lure Amazon HQ2?

3 years ago 0 0 1135

A recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article, “Atlanta Activists: We don’t want Amazon ‘HQ2’ here, touts “a growing sentiment that the resulting income inequality, unaffordable housing and traffic congestion is not worth even the 50,000 jobs” that landing Amazon HQ2 would bring to Atlanta. Stan’s Response  While I’m not as opposed to Amazon choosing Atlanta for its HQ2 as these folks appear to be, I do question why our City, which is experiencing a booming film industry and new corporate move-ins and expansions on a regular basis, offer what looks like a “distressed sale” giveaway. If we have so much to offer, and I believe we have a lot, why set this precedent? In my recent blog, Amazon HQ2 and The Gulch: A Symbiotic Relationship?, I address many of the pros and cons of swallowing the Amazon Whale.

Stan Sonenshine Discusses Amazon HQ2

3 years ago 0 0 4748

Stan Sonenshine was featured in Bisnow’s recent article, “Atlanta’s Odds Are Strong, But ‘Conservative Culture’ Could Hamper Amazon HQ2 Chances.” In the article, Stan questions whether Atlanta’s conservative culture could be a drawback and whether landing HQ2 may be disruptive to a city already experiencing healthy growth. You can learn more about Stan’s thoughts on HQ2 in his recent blog “Amazon HQ2 and The Gulch: A Symbiotic Relationship?”

Amazon HQ2 and The Gulch: A Symbiotic Relationship?

3 years ago 2 1 167987

Atlanta was originally called Terminus because the rail lines converged here. Eventually, the interaction of trains and cars became problematic, and streets were built over the railroad tracks. Existing shops were abandoned, and new shops were built on the new streets. Then, the Omni, Phillips Arena and the Georgia Dome were built, creating a big, empty space that you can look into. That area is The Gulch, a 120-acre site, currently made up of parking lots and rail lines. The Gulch: Past and Future Visions  For years, the vision was to turn The Gulch into a multi-modal station and then build mixed-use around the station, but that plan has never come to fruition, mostly because of the number of entities that would have to be involved—county, city, state and federal agencies; MARTA; and Norfolk Southern to name a few. However, according to a recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article, “The Gulch…is

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Intentional Development Around Stadiums: Can It Work?

3 years ago 0 0 1414

In my last blog “The Not-So-Obvious Connection Between Stadiums and Community”, I admitted my skepticism related to the community-building aspect of erecting new stadiums while acknowledging my hope for the success of such projects, like the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But there’s an exception. And that’s the new Georgia State Football Stadium. Once Turner Field. Once the Olympic Stadium. (In fact, did you know this is one of the longest sustainable stadiums in the history of the Olympics?) What’s Different? Why do I think this example is different? It’s all in the approach. And I see private co-developers Georgia State University (GSU) and Atlanta-based Carter & Associates creating Summerhill, a development around the stadium, in an intentional and realistic way. In other words, this is not a “build it and they will come” project. GSU and Carter appear to be assessing what the community needs and then building it. To me, this

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The Not-So-Obvious Connection Between Stadiums and Community

3 years ago 0 1 1524

I admit it. I am a skeptic when it comes to the community-building aspect of sports stadiums—and I am not alone. This issue is particularly relevant in Atlanta with the recent openings of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park and the soon-to-be completed renovation of Philips Arena, all done with public financial assistance.  In this blog, I focus on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium because it is the most expensive and prominent. Here’s my question: How can a huge building, that looks like either the Lunar Lander or an alien landing zone (think big hole in the roof) and that is used less than 100 days per year, help revitalize a struggling community? Wasn’t this supposed to happen before with Turner Field and the Georgia Dome? Don’t get me wrong. I support public-private partnerships and these revitalization efforts, but in general, I do not see the connection. With that said, I do think the

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The Pro Forma: Garbage In, Garbage Out

4 years ago 0 0 1336

I clearly remember one speaker’s comments from a 1985 NAIOP conference. His claim was this: One of the worst things that ever happened to the real estate business was the personal computer. How Can This Be?  For those who can remember prior to 1980—before the personal computer and in the early days of the financial calculator—real estate pro formas were done by hand. Income-producing properties were evaluated based on current income, and development pro formas rarely went beyond three years. With the onset of high inflation in the early 80s, pro formas showing annual increases in income became common to achieve high future evaluations, so real estate could compete with high bond rates. Even then you had to get the numbers (rents, expenses, cap ex, etc.) right on the first try because changing them after the initial projection was cumbersome and time-consuming. Enter the Financial Calculator and the Personal Computer. With

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Amazon’s Bold Purchase of Whole Foods: Why Exactly?

4 years ago 0 0 1335

Jeff Bezos has done it again. He’s managed to set the retail world on end with his unexpected, and possibly risky, move to purchase Whole Foods. And the move has left a trail of analysts wondering exactly why he did it. So, I guess I will chime in. Stan’s Prediction Amazon bought Whole Foods because it now has 431 convenient pick-up points for existing and future customers to pick-up more Amazon stuff. It’s my thought that future home delivery will only be available for the best of customers, and if you don’t rank, you will be picking up your Amazon shipment, still conveniently, at your local Whole Foods store. That may be one of the main reasons the transaction happened, but let’s look at other factors influencing this just under $14 billion-dollar transaction which recently lit up the retail market. Why Whole Foods? Organic food market becomes flooded. At one

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Development: Unpredictability in the Process

4 years ago 0 0 1162

Development: Unpredictability in the Process My last blog, “The Importance of Timing on Real Estate Investment,” focused on the unpredictability in investment, on what can happen over time once you own a property. In development, there is the added unpredictability during the process. For a broker selling a property or an investor buying a property, the complete process can be done in 90 days or less. But that is not the same with development, not even close. Process Derailment Developers have many considerations—they need time for inspections, site tests, neighborhood forums, entitlement or zoning processes, permitting, and soil boring tests, to name a few. While some of these can be controlled, others cannot. For example, everything could be moving forward smoothly and one ruffled neighborhood group at a zoning hearing or one difficult inspector could stop the project dead or at least create a significant delay, with the developer having

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