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Housing, Not Traffic, Will Be Big Test For Central Perimeter If It Lands Amazon's HQ2

Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal talks traffic issues with Perimeter CID Executive Director Ann Hanlon at a recent Bisnow event.

Even with mounting pressure on congestion, Central Perimeter will have its arms wide open for Amazon's vaunted second headquarters project, assuming the retail giant picks Atlanta.

“If they come, they come. And we'll welcome them,” Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal said during a Bisnow event focused on the Central Perimeter submarket earlier this week. “Instead of that being an insurmountable thing, I consider that a positive challenge.”

Amazon has whittled down its search for a second headquarters, known as Amazon HQ2, to 20 finalist regions, including Atlanta. City and state officials, in their secretive bid to land the project that promises to give the winning city 50,000 high-paying jobs, fronted some sites in the metro area that could accommodate what Amazon expects will eventually be an 8M SF office campus.

The sites could include GID Development Group's planned High Street megaproject in Dunwoody.

Sandy Springs Senior Economic Developer Erica Rocker-Wills, Georgia Department of Transportation External Affairs and Communications Program Manager Jill Goldberg, Parmenter Managing Principal John Davidson, Perimeter Community Improvement District Executive Director Ann Hanlon and Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal

While anticipated to be a massive economic shot in the arm, HQ2 would also exacerbate congestion issues facing Central Perimeter and the larger region as a whole, in no small part thanks to the area's success at producing new jobs and luring major companies.

In 2011, 100,000 people commuted into the submarket daily. By 2016, that number had risen to 253,000. Those numbers don't yet reflect the impact State Farm, Mercedes-Benz and other new corporate tenants will have going forward. Today, Central Perimeter is home to 33M SF of offices and 5,000 companies.

Within 25 years, companies could need an additional 15.2M SF of corporate office space, according to PCID's projections in its annual report.

PM Realty Group Executive Vice President Chip Roach discusses how The Summit in Peachtree Corners could soon see more than 100K SF available with CareerBuilder's consolidation.

The Central Perimeter market already is undergoing major roadway projects to address congestion concerns, including the overhaul of the Interstate 285 and Georgia Highway 400 interchange. Shortal said the city was in the planning stages to consider developing a new Westside connector from 285 that travels under Ashford-Dunwoody Road to Hammond Drive to help alleviate traffic.

But Shortal said he expects the first major concern for Central Perimeter, if it grabs the HQ2 prize, won't so much be traffic.

“There's going to have to be a housing need,” he said to an audience of more than 200 at The Summit office building in Peachtree Corners.

With three MARTA stations in Central Perimeter — including direct access to the Dunwoody MARTA station at the High Street site — Perimeter CID Executive Director Ann Hanlon said the market has the infrastructure that will be able to absorb Amazon's operations.

“It won't be 50,000 people at once,” Georgia Department of Transportation communications director Jill Goldberg said. “It'll be a ramp-up.”