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State of Buckhead address: Poised for recovery

February 19, 2009
Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition, speaks at the Buckhead Business Association’s weekly meeting.

Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition, speaks at the Buckhead Business Association’s weekly meeting.

As reported by the Northside Neighbor, February 19, 2009. By Cathy Johnson.

Even though many in Buckhead are feeling the economic slowdown, the area is much better off than other submarkets in metro Atlanta and around the country.

That was the message Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell delivered to the Buckhead Business Association Feb. 12 in his State of Buckhead address at the City Club of Buckhead.

“The ongoing media reports have been doom and gloom, but I’ll insist there is more brightness than they are accepting,” said Massell, also a former mayor of Atlanta.

He reported Buckhead has almost 22 million square feet of office space, more than 25,000 multifamily condo and rental units, about 1,500 retail units and 5,300 hotel rooms.

“We have 15 percent of the city’s population, occupy 20 percent of its land and pay an estimated 45 percent of the ad valorem taxes. Suffice it to say we are a most important part of Atlanta,” he said.

Massell believes Buckhead is a buyers’ market in this economy.

“We have under construction nearly 2 million square feet of office space, slightly more than 2,000 multifamily units and 200,000 square feet of retail,” said Massell.

In an interview after the speech, Massell responded to reports of newly constructed office and retail space standing idle during slow economic conditions. “In my opinion, it’s an informed adjustment to market conditions,” he said.

Massell spoke about the Streets of Buckhead development located along five blocks around Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads. Ben Carter, founder and chairman of Ben Carter Properties, is developing the multi-usae property.

“He has paused now to renegotiate outdated construction contracts, which could reduce their costs by several millions,” Massell said. “They have announced tenants for 40 percent of the complex, which is not bad for still having 15 months to the estimated first phase opening.”

Traffic problems were addressed. “We continue to study where Piedmont Road changes from [Interstate] 85 to Roswell Road, right-of-way negotiations for the second phase of the Peachtree Blvd project from Ga. 400 to Roxboro Road and lobbying for the flyover ramp connecting Ga. 400 south to I-85 north.

In a question-and-answer session, Nick Nicholson of Nicholson & Associates, asked about the proposed Peachtree Streetcar arriving to Buckhead.

Massell responded, “It is not coming to Buckhead because it cannot operate with all the metal plates in the roads. It won’t work in Buckhead.”

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