The sun came up today. Politicians are fighting. And Alpharetta is getting a new $50 million project.
Right on the heels of completion of its City-Center, and within months of completion of Avalon’s new office tower, Greenstone Properties announced plans to start construction on a new six-story, 128,000-square-foot office building estimated at $50 million. The building will be on their property on the southwestern corner of Old Milton Parkway and Ga. 400, right across the street from Avalon and Alpharetta’s planned multi-use trail project called the Alpha-Loop.
One aspect that should not be taken lightly on this project is that it is what real estate professionals call a ‘spec’ project. That means they are starting construction without any tenants signed. While this has become a little more common intown Atlanta, it is very rare outside the perimeter. The developer, and the banks lending them the money to build the project (in this case Federal Capital Partners) have to have a strong confidence in an area to build a spec project there. And there seems to be plenty of confidence in Alpharetta these days.
An executive with Federal Capital Partners was quoted in the Atlanta Business Chronical touting Alpharetta’s draw.
“We see strong fundamentals throughout the entire North Fulton market given the depth of corporate tenants, but we were drawn to this location because of the activity around Avalon,” said Liz Koteles, a vice president of commercial investments with Federal Capital Partners.
I was talking to Lamar Wakefield, whose firm Wakefield Beasley, master-planned Avalon, and The Battery and almost every major suburban mixed-use project coming on line these days. Avalon has become one of the most admired projects built in the last 10 years. Wakefield told me that communities were coming to him all the time wanting him to help plan an Avalon in their town. He said that’s just not feasible.
“Not everyone can support an Avalon,” he said.
The same goes for this spec, Class-A office building in Alpharetta. The confidence in the project is in place because if you are a company that needs to be in Class A office space, why wouldn’t you want to be within walking distance to Avalon? Or right off the exit of Ga. 400? Or right along a multi-use trail that takes riders and walkers 5 miles throughout the city from the new City Center, through Avalon and throughout the changing North Point Mall area?
Success breeds success. Alpharetta planted a flag back in the 1990s when Jim Cowart convinced local officials it was the right thing to do to build the first gated community in the metro area in Country Club of the South. That brought in CEOs who didn’t want to drive to downtown Atlanta, so they moved their offices to Alpharetta. Someone had the bright idea back then to line Winward Parkway with fiber-optic cable, making the desolate roadway the most connected roadway in the country back then. That drew in data centers, regional headquarters and headquarters from across the country.
And on and on it goes. Now the uses are all playing off of each other, making each other more successful. With the new City Center, Alpharetta added a significant amount of retail. The thing about retail is that it needs customers to survive. So, all around the City Center are new residential developments that will supply customers on weeknights and on the weekends — and new office buildings that will supply customers on weekdays. The office-buildings are there because the retail provides a vibrant and fun atmosphere for employees to get to be in. Unemployment is low and businesses are doing everything they can to draw in top talent. Being located near an Avalon, or Alpharetta City Center, or the Beltline in Atlanta, give those businesses a huge advantage. A recent study showed that many of today’s employees are willing to take less money to be in an office that is in a walkable and vibrant environment. That’s good because that office space is getting more expensive.
A completion date has not yet been set for the new office project.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
Geoff Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-674-1433
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group