Cousins and Ackerman to Build 200k SF Mercedes-Benz 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.
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.