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Andrea

Hey, where'd everybody go?

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Everyone knows the story. For Atlanta's first 150 years, Downtown was the commercial hub of the city. The Downtown area continued to be dominant up through the mid 1980's, when highrise development shifted to the Buckhead and Midtown districts of the city. In addition, large communities such as Cumberland, Perimeter and Alpharetta emerged almost overnight in more remote areas which had not traditionally been identified as Atlanta, but they soon rivaled what had historically been viewed as "the city."

I was trying to quantify some of these changes and dumped the data from Emporis into a spreadsheet. Obviously, this is a limited snapshot for several reasons: (1) it deals only with the three traditional "backbone" business districts within the city of Atlanta proper; (2) it does not take into account the emergence of new suburban "edge cities"; and (3) it looks only at highrise development. It only includes what Emporis has reported and doesn't factor in things such as the size of the floor plate, etc.

Nonetheless, I think it does give some idea of the scale and timing of the shift. The 1960's and 70's saw a tremendous explosion in highrise development Downtown, at a pace which easily equals what is now going on in Midtown and Buckhead. My spreadsheet doesn't include enough detail to show it, but I can subjectively report that Downtown held its own up through the mid 80's, which is when Buckhead and Midtown really caught fire. During the 90's things were quieter everywhere, but in the last decade we've seen the momentum shift dramatically towards the two northern districts.

Personally, I lean toward a longer range view of these shifts. Although the dynamics among the city's three major commercial hubs have changed quite a bit, I tend to think that they are basically growing together. Perhaps one day we will redefine the "central business district" to include the whole Peachtree Corridor. Transportation projects such as the Streetcar, the Beltline, MARTA (and yes, to some degree, even roads and bridges) have the potential to knit the city into a more cohesive whole than it has ever been. Infill with TOD and TND considerations is taking place in many areas, along with the refurbishing of older neglected neighborhoods. I think there's a huge interest in making these things happen all over town, which is why I remain a shameless booster.

Anyway, here's the spreadsheet with the Emporis data.

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Thats an interesting way to look at the changes in the development in the city. Didn't Buckhead really took off after the completion of the GA 400 extension? Despite the slowing development DT I really believe it is start to find its "legs". I think each of these districts will have their own identity as infill and mixed used developments continue to fill in the gaps and all will be vibrants neighborhoods of the city. I also think MT and DT are growing together.

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Thats an interesting way to look at the changes in the development in the city. Didn't Buckhead really took off after the completion of the GA 400 extension? Despite the slowing development DT I really believe it is start to find its "legs". I think each of these districts will have their own identity as infill and mixed used developments continue to fill in the gaps and all will be vibrants neighborhoods of the city. I also think MT and DT are growing together.
Well, I don't think Georgia 400 actually opened until 1991. Buckhead had become the fastest growing area of the city in terms of highrise development back in the 1980's and was pretty built up well before then. So in a sense the growth there has been in spite of rather than because of 400. (I say this as one who lived through the building of said tollway in her neighborhood). :angry:

My personal feeling is that Buckhead's development in the last 30 years or so has had more to do with the arrival of the MARTA stations, its emergence as the city's main shopping/dining/hotel district, the complex but extensive network of surface streets, and, frankly, the fact that a lot of the developers and office tenants with big bucks lived there and wanted to be close to home. It's about 4-5 miles inside the Perimeter, and even closer to 1-75 and I-85, as well as the city's two major medical complexes. Buckhead's also got that "Old Atlanta" thing going on from the subjective standpoint, and I imagine a number of people are drawn to that.

I agree that Midtown and Downtown are growing together, but I'd also have to include Buckhead in that linkage, too. If you do the Peachtree Road Race (or just walk down Peachtree), it's pretty clear that there's hardly one square inch from Piedmont Park to Lenox Square that hasn't been developed for a pretty long time. The Peachtree is not only an interesting pedestrian tour of the city but is in its own way a footnote to how people view the urban core. You know, it started out going from West Paces to Central City Park, but they ran out of room downtown and shifted it north to its current route from Lenox to Piedmont Park.

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Somehow I think your idea of the three blending together at some point in the future might actually happen. Some parts of Midtown are already beginning to blend with downtown, especially some of the more historic areas of Midtown like those around the Fox and Georgian Terrace. Also, some of the southernmost areas of Midtown seem to be blending as well.

I don't think they'll be homogenous necessarily, Midtown has always looked a bit more artistically designed, even from the streets, than downtown, but they will definitely grow together at some point in the future.

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Well, I don't think Georgia 400 actually opened until 1991. Buckhead had become the fastest growing area of the city in terms of highrise development back in the 1980's and was pretty built up well before then. So in a sense the growth there has been in spite of rather than because of 400. (I say this as one who lived through the building of said tollway in her neighborhood). :angry:

My personal feeling is that Buckhead's development in the last 30 years or so has had more to do with the arrival of the MARTA stations, its emergence as the city's main shopping/dining/hotel district, the complex but extensive network of surface streets, and, frankly, the fact that a lot of the developers and office tenants with big bucks lived there and wanted to be close to home. It's about 4-5 miles inside the Perimeter, and even closer to 1-75 and I-85, as well as the city's two major medical complexes. Buckhead's also got that "Old Atlanta" thing going on from the subjective standpoint, and I imagine a number of people are drawn to that.

I agree that Midtown and Downtown are growing together, but I'd also have to include Buckhead in that linkage, too. If you do the Peachtree Road Race (or just walk down Peachtree), it's pretty clear that there's hardly one square inch from Piedmont Park to Lenox Square that hasn't been developed for a pretty long time. The Peachtree is not only an interesting pedestrian tour of the city but is in its own way a footnote to how people view the urban core. You know, it started out going from West Paces to Central City Park, but they ran out of room downtown and shifted it north to its current route from Lenox to Piedmont Park.

I didn't mean to suggest that Buckhead's development was primarily because of 400. I just vaguely remember reading something to the effect that the growth of as an Buckhead's office market had somewhat leveled off until 400 was finished.

Buckhead does have that old-money cache and it really is developing into to one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the country. I'm actually shocked that something like the Peachtree corridor project hasn't happened before now, but it will only make the area even better.

Midtown of course is booming and starting to attract more than the young first-time buyers that is the base of its residential market while its office market continues to expand.

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I didn't mean to suggest that Buckhead's development was primarily because of 400. I just vaguely remember reading something to the effect that the growth of as an Buckhead's office market had somewhat leveled off until 400 was finished.
Yeah, there was certainly a ton of highrise office building in Buckhead during the mid-80's (Resurgens, Atlanta Plaza, the Lenox Building, Monarch Plaza, One Buckhead Plaza, Capital City Plaza, Atlanta Financial Center, Piedmont Center, etc.). When GA 400 opened in the early 90's, not a lot of new office construction took place for a number of years after that, but I don't know that 400 alone killed it. As the Emporis data indicate, things were generally much slower all over town in the 90's.

You're right about Midtown, too -- it is attracting more than first time buyers, and that's exciting.

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Some vacancy numbers from a GlobeSt.com article illustrates the current situation

Midtown 15.5-million-sf 13.8% vacancy rate

Buckhead 14.2-million-sf 15.7%

Downtown 20.5-million-sf 20.6%

Metro Atlanta 165-million-sf 17.3%

Yep. What that translates to is that Midtown and Buckhead each have about 2.2 million sf of space to fill up, and Downtown has around 4.2 million sf to fill up.

That's roughly the equivalent of saying there are 4 additional existing but empty Symphony Towers in Midtown, another 4 with no tenants in Buckhead, and 7 more with nobody in them Downtown. That's quite a bit of vacant space.

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