Three inches of snow and ice and our city shut down--surely changes are coming, right? We asked a handful of Atlanta's real estate pros their views and all got the same answer: Short-term memory won't teach any lessons.
“A week from now, nobody's going to think or care about the troubles we had,” says Hines Interests' John Heagy. “They'll chalk up the incredible delay… to a weather event instead of a traffic event.” John was one of the metro leaders championing the failed T-SPOST referendum last year that would have added a penny sales tax for a litany of transportation fixes. The Snowpocalypse won't revive that effort. But John says he has hope for a bill in the State House that could allow counties to individually create T-SPLOSTs for their own projects.
Jones Lang LaSalle's Mike Sivewright also is hard-pressed to believe the events of this week will have any lasting effect, especially on Metro Atlanta economic development efforts. “I think it's short-term and forgotten,” he says. This was the “perfect storm” instead of the City of Atlanta being “ill equipped” to handle ice storms. Mike, who spent more than eight hours on the road, eventually abandoning his car at the foot of his Dunwoody neighborhood, says he's even unsure if the storm will have any effect on changing people's minds about funding mass transit. “I know a lot of people who opted to use MARTA, and they didn't have travel problems,” he says. “If that story gets out, maybe it will. But I'm still thinking this is a short-term memory.”
“I wouldn't prescribe any more importance to [the snowstorm] than that. Will it hurt economic development? I don't think so,” says Colliers International's Bob Mathews. Instead, a lot of the traffic nightmare could have been prevented had the school systems been more proactive in canceling classes the entire day. “In hindsight, it would have been nice if the schools had been closed,” he says, preventing parents from having to “criss-cross the city to pick up their kids.” And like many in Atlanta, it took Bob five hours to travel from North Peachtree to his home in Dunwoody (a trip that normally takes 45 minutes).
Hartman Simons Summey Orr got some positive press in this snowstorm, though. We got a clip of Summey on WSB-TV news the other day for his clever help with another fellow Atlantan, toting a sled filled with water and food along I-285, giving stranded people free refreshments. “People seemed a little incredulous that somebody was walking by giving away food and water. More than one asked how much we were charging,” Summey says. “I never thought I'd see the day that I could walk across six lanes of traffic on 285 at 8am on a Wednesday to hand an 18-wheel truck driver a bottle of water.”
And here we have Hartman Simons' Ryan Rivera finally walking home to Smyrna. The night before, he got stuck at the office when his noticed a school bus from Riverwood High School stranded nearby with 45 students who couldn't get home or back to school. Ryan brought them over to 6400 Powers Ferry Rd and “raided the snack machines and all 45 [students] and the bus driver slept in the building lobby,” Summey says.
Speaking of economic development, Lee & Associates' John DeCouto says despite the chaos in Atlanta, he still managed to bring a client from Arizona to tour a Midtown building with Cousins Properties' Jeff Dils, who soldiered his way on MARTA to the appointment despite the snow delays and gridlock. “My client thought the gridlock was amusing as we walked most of our tour,” John tells us (giving us a pic of his snow-covered car that had friends of his in Chicago laughing at our Snowpocalypse). John says Jeff left his office at noon and made it perfectly on time to the tour appointment at 3:30pm. Despite it all, John says his client is still determined to open an Atlanta office.
And this picture just struck our funny bone.