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Traffic, Quality of Life Continue To Haunt Central Perimeter Politicos

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Central Perimeter's various municipalities need to work together to address traffic congestion and other issues or face the prospect of no-growth administrations taking over in the future. That warning came from both Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis and Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul during this morning's Future of Central Perimeter event at the Hyatt at Villa Christina. Rusty says mobility and quality of life continue to be issues all of Central Perimeter needs to address or risk seeing companies leave the submarket. “Either we figure it out or Mike and my's replacement will be the 'no' crowd,” he says.

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And continuing to bring companies—and retain companies—into Central Perimeter is key to growing tax revenues, which can help solve those issues, Mike says. So far, it seems the cities in Central Perimeter are doing something right: Aside from State Farm and Mercedes-Benz moving here, InterContinental Hotel Group elected to stay put because the firm viewed Central Perimeter as where its future employees would want to be located, Mike says. 

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Both Mike and Rusty were part of a panel that included Hines Interests' John Heagy, MARTA's Amanda Rhein and Crown Towers' Charlie Brown, who moderated. “This area has become a district that employers want to be in for a very specific reason,” John says. “The key for the future is to make sure this district grows properly.” It's especially true when faced with the fact that development going forward will likely occur on only the choicest of land parcels. Citing a Brookings Institution study about commercial real estate—which predicts that most of the developments globally over the next 20 years will occur on just 10% of the developable land—John called Central Perimeter a “10% market” if growth is handled correctly. 

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Amanda says that a possible expansion of MARTA to Windward Parkway could open by 2028. But despite being able to tap into federal funding, MARTA's budgeted expansion is still short by $1B. There are various ways to cover that shortfall, including raising taxes, but “in the end, we will have to come together as a community” to develop a plan, Amanda says. And that funding mechanism must be in place before MARTA can dip into the federal funding well.