If this is the calm before the storm in terms of new companies moving in and new office buildings going up, then it’s going to be some storm.
Several announcements I’ve read this past week have made me go from wondering if the expanse of new office development starting and being planned around the city was too much, to wondering if it’s not enough. The first article I saw didn’t really raise my eyebrows, but confirmed that in Atlanta – we’ve still got it. The metro area added 75,800 new residents between April of last year to April of this year.
That brought our total population to 4,555,900, which the Atlanta Business Chronicle pointed out is more than the population of 25 U.S. states. If you are wondering, Cherokee and Henry counties grew the fastest, while Fulton, then Gwinnett, then DeKalb group the most.
So while that news confirmed that folks are still moving in droves to Atlanta now, the next couple of articles predicted that they’ll continue to move here in the coming years.
According to the Chronicle, in a speech he gave to the Atlanta Rotary, Gov. Nathan Deal said the state is working with 20 good prospective companies that may move operations to the Atlanta area – each would bring an average of 850 new jobs.
That would be over 16,000 new jobs if Deal and company are able to close them. One of those deals could be a Fortune 500 company that is said to be in talks with the developer of the Gulch in downtown Atlanta, according to reports.
If you are not familiar the Gulch, it is about 40 acres of parking lots and rail lines that sit just east of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Most of the property sits well below street level, and initial plans are to bring all of it up to street-level in the way of a platform. This project alone is estimated to take three years.
Once built, developers and planners are envisioning 15 brand-new city blocks with roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, gathering spaces and parks. The developer’s plan is to add between 1.8 million and 9.3 million square feet of office space – a big stretch that leaves the door open for a major company to move in and drastically influence how it is developed. And yes, it has been said that the Gulch would be the top target should Amazon decide to move its headquarters here. And no, the Fortune 500 company said to be talking with the developer is not Amazon. Final cost of that project will easily be into the billions.
The Gulch is a massive development. But massive is relatively normal right now in the metro area. The City of College Park is working on a 320-acre project that is right now being called Airport City. This project is said to be valued between $3 billion and $3.5 billion.
It is next to the airport and would include up to 10 million square feet. Office, residential and retail are all major components to the project, as are multi-use trails and paths.
Since we seem to maintain an average of 32 new residents a day, we are going to need more houses, offices and stores.
So I hope a good percentage of those new residents work in the construction industry. Since I’m a mortgage lender, I’m all too aware that there is a shortage of houses in the under $400,000-market. Builders are doing all they can to keep up, but simply don’t have enough workers to keep up with demand. Unemployment is at historic lows, so it’s hard to get people to jump away from other industries.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group