If you think you have a handle on the Perimeter Center area in Dunwoody and how it is growing, you might want to think again.
There are three huge office projects in the works that will add more than 2.5 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail and over 3,000 residential units. In an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Dunwoody Director of Economic Development Michael Starling said these projects will create “a new center of gravity for the Perimeter office market.”
Park Center is the largest project currently under construction and is a 17-acre, master-planned project that includes four, 20-plus story buildings that will house more than 10,000 employees for State Farm. It is the largest ground-up corporate office project in metro Atlanta’s history, according to the article. The first building is complete and currently hosts State Farm employees, and construction is underway on buildings II and III which will open in January 2020 and January 2021 respectively. Construction has not started on the fourth building, but it is being marketed to a non-State Farm tenant.
The campus is directly across Hammond Drive from the Dunwoody MARTA station, and pedestrian bridges will connect the buildings to each other and to the MARTA station. There also will be links to multi-use trails that will lead to surrounding parks and other trail systems.
Twelve24 is the second project, and it broke ground last July. It sits across Hammond Drive from the State-Farm project and next to the Dunwoody MARTA station. It will include a 16-story office building with 11,000 square feet of restaurant space, a 9,500-square-foot fitness center and a conference center. Connected to the building will be a 10-story Hyatt Place Hotel. The office has a large tenant slated to move in with Insight Global.
With the introduction to the area of at least 10,000 State Farm employees and thousands of others, one would wonder whether the surrounding services can support them. My office is in the Perimeter area and I can tell you that at noon, most of the restaurants I go to are already packed. The answer is a development that will be called High Street.
This third project has not broken ground yet, but will be the area’s largest mixed-use development. It is being developed by Avalon-developer North American Properties and will include 400,000 square feet of retail, 400,000 square feet of office, luxury residences and a 400-room hotel. This project when complete will feel more like a gathering place. When built, this project appears as though it will serve as the true center of town for the Perimeter area. And being located also across Hammond Drive from the State Farm project, its retail will no doubt have a tremendous amount of daytime customers an easy walk away.
Local experts have said for years that the draw for these projects was the availability of the land so close to the transit station. Companies are working harder to lure the next generation of our workforce, and those workers seem to be more flexible when it comes to alternatives to using the car.
The state and local municipalities have come to grips with the understanding that we need to spend more money on providing transportation alternatives or risk having traffic choke our ability to keep attracting businesses to the metro area. The metro counties for the first time have come together to collect dedicated tax money that will be set aside for MARTA, which will slowly transform its name and brand to The ATL. The state dramatically increased its spending on transit and transportation projects in the metro Atlanta area. And while there may not be significant expansion of MARTA’s current rail system, money has been dedicated to expand bus rapid transit, which is less costly to get started and shows a much quicker timetable to implement.
The residents and workers who will occupy the new spaces around the Dunwoody transit station will all have quick access to the new network of transit options. And the office developers, and State Farm, are betting big that the future workforce will see this as an important amenity in choosing where they want to work.
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