January 7, 2015

Could Ackerman and Cousins Win The Checkered Flag For Mercedes' HQ?

For Cousins Properties and Ackerman & Co, the stars may be aligning into the image of a Mercedes-Benz.

While officials with the Daimler luxury automaker stress no decision has been made, sources familiar with the company's Atlanta HQ search say Mercedes-Benz has a favored site among the contenders: Abernathy 400--the project at the corner of GA 400 and Abernathy Road. It's a move that can even fit with what Mercedes officials revealed yesterday: lease existing space for the short-term, while developing a new HQ building. JLL's heavy hitter Rob Metcalf is the local broker on the assignment, along with JLL's Michael Sessa and Meredith O'Connor from Chicago, and Brad Selner from Dallas.

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Sources say Mercedes-Benz is in talks for temporary space with Cousins at Northpark Town Center, the office complex just across GA 400 on Abernathy Road that Cousins purchased this past year. It's also one of the few office projects in Central Perimeter that will have ready space by the summer when Mercedes-Benz moves to Atlanta--175k SF total after Oracle moves out to One Glenlake, as we previously reported here. In turn, Mercedes is in talks with Cousins and Ackerman to develop the planned 200k-plus SF HQ at its site, which Mercedes officials say will be completed by early 2017. That could eventually expand to a total of 500k SF, sources say.

Mercedes-Benz communications director Robert Moran tells us that particulars regarding the temporary space (he declined to identify the building) are still being worked out, and several sites are being considered for the build-to-suit HQ. While the company has issued a litany of reasons as to why Atlanta--from the airport to the cost of living to the growing Mercedes consumer market here--Robert says Atlanta is also just a two and a half hour drive to Vance, Ala., where the automaker has its recently expanded plant, where it hosts a "grand immersion center" for dealers and customers. That experience also involves the use of the racetrack at Barber Motorsports Park just outside of Birmingham. He says the company should announce more concrete details by month's end.

It's a nice win for Atlanta, says Kennesaw State University's Roger Tutterow, especially coming off a decade with some high-profile HQ losses, such as BellSouth (consumed by AT&T) and Georgia-Pacific (consumed by Koch). And for star power it could rival the UPS or NCR HQ moves to Atlanta. A Mercedes-Benz HQ would bring 1,000 jobs, many of which pay executive-level salaries, and also mean more business for local professional service firms such as accounting or law firms; local hires to fill posts from people who stayed in NJ; absorption of housing stock; and broader community involvement. "Most of the civic groups will tell you that it is easier to get support from those [companies] headquartered in the city," Roger says. 

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CohnReznick (Field) ATL
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DFW's Wealthiest Real Estate Moguls In 2014, U.S. Renters Paid $441 Billion in Rent
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You Should Be Laser Scanning

If you only consider laser scanning to aid mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) coordination, you're missing the big picture. In a recent white paper, JE Dunn Construction shows us that laser scanning can assist in all construction phases, to help better visualize the project, reduce risk, increase safety, and make better decisions about the end product. It can also ensure more accurate pricing up front.

Consider these factors when laser scanning your project:

  • Assemble a dedicated laser-scanning team. 
  • Have a scanning plan in place prior to visiting the site.
  • Establish site control prior to laser scanning. This allows you future scans if a section of the building was missed during the original scan.
  • Decide what the electronic deliverable will need to be. Not all designers use the same design software.
  • Always scan more than you need. It's easier to have more than you need than going back and adding later.
  • Let the general contractor lead the scanning process (they hold the subcontractor contracts). 

For more ways to laser scanning success, click on the white paper here. For more info on our sponsor, JE Dunn Construction, click here

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Ashton Woods Eyes Glenridge Hall Site

Numerous sources tell us that the Glenridge Hall site, a 70-acre prime parcel straddling Abernathy Road in Sandy Springs, is under contract with Atlanta homebuilder Ashton Woods. While plans for the site are unclear, sources say it will most likely be a residential project. The site--home to the historic Glenridge Hall mansion (here)--is currently owned by the Mayson family, and is being marketed by CBRE's Scott McGregor, who declined to comment. Ashton Woods officials also did not return calls. 

Sources say the Mayson family has been looking to sell the entire property instead of parceling it out to various buyers. And while other names have expressed interest in the site--including North American Properties--anything other than a residential project would have to get a green light from the City of Sandy Springs. For Ashton Woods, the buy would add on to projects in Central Perimeter: the Gramercy condo project (here) in Dunwoody, Heritage in Dunwoody, a planned 67 single-family community that will start to deliver this year. 

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Fore! Heritage Golf Links Owner Tees Up Sale

The once-struggling Heritage Gold Links is back up for sale--this time in much better health. Colliers International's Price Weaver and Keith Cubba are marketing the 20-acre, 27-hole course in Tucker for owner Magnolia Hospitality Management. The asking price was undisclosed. Built in '96, Heritage came into new ownership that included NBA great Julius "Dr J" Erving in 2006. Unfortunately, the economic recession took its toll on Heritage, and it went into foreclosure some years later, according to GoldGeorgia.com in a story here. Magnolia's turnaround now means the owners hope to reap the rewards at a time when Atlanta's overall golf market has been getting greener. Price notes that some 50,000 rounds were played at Heritage this past year.

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