STATE OF ATLANTA
|Cousins Properties will break ground on its mixed-use Emory Point project this year. Since very few projects may see the light of day this year, we wouldn't take our word for it either. But it comes from Cousins CEO Larry Gellerstedt, who spoke at our Bisnow State of the Market event at the W hotel in Midtown on Friday.
|Larry says Emory Point will include 82k SF of retail and 440 apartments (developed by Gables Residential) along Clifton Road next to Emory University. The head of one of the country's largest public REITs, Larry addressed some 600 of you that joined us for breakfast, a star-studded panel, and some great schmoozing.
|Here's Larry (second from right) with fellow panelists and moderator Arnall Golden Gregory partner Phil Skinner and Carter chairmanBob Peterson and Wells Real Estate Investment Trusts' founder and president Leo Wells, fresh off his record-making buy of Market Square in DC, where the firm spent $905/SF. For Larry, Emory Point represents a renewed optimism (although tepid) in the Atlanta market, as more groups take the offensive in the industry. ?I think that's a significant change in the discussion, even from last year,? he says. Still, Atlanta remains ?challenged? and few opportunities for new development will actually emerge, short of multifamily. Instead, Larry says Cousins sees opportunities to recapitalize existing projects with other developers, such as the partnership it recently entered with Watkins Retail Group to gain 50.5% equity interest in four Publix-anchored shopping centers.
|Here, Bob is lamenting to the audience that it's been difficult to find and buy ?quality properties, even on the distressed side.? There's so much capital in the market that buyers for ideal properties are plentiful. For instance, the Campanile Building (ultimately snagged by Dewberry Capital) had 30 qualified buyers lined up. But even today, buyers risk overpaying for assets, Bob says. ?If you do buy an office building in Atlanta, Georgia, you better be darn careful,? he says. ?We would love to buy Class-A office in Atlanta at $50/SF, but we find that hard to do.?
|And Leo says that ?there actually is a lot of money available, more than I've ever seen.? He cautioned that leverage is returning to the marketplace again, and likened the country's addiction to debt tococaine. ?That's what debt is, it's just white powder in the form of a check,? he says. ?If you think this won't happen again, you're wrong. They'll start giving you more money than you can pay back in about two years.?
Here's Pete Corbett, George Mori, and Stan Allen of First Century Energy—one of our fabulous sponsors—relaxing in the i2i by Steelcase chairs provided by Dekalb Office (yep, another one of our great sponsors). If they could, they'd be sitting in the sun since First Century is one of the metro's leaders with photovoltaic technology, including designing the 221 Suniva 240-watt solar array on top of McKenney's office building at 1056 Moreland Industrial Blvd.