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Breathing New Life Into A Ghost Office Market With Affordable Industrial Flex Spaces


More than 30% of office spaces in Metro Atlanta are vacant, leaving owners to make difficult decisions on how to recoup their lost revenue. While many developers across the country have been embracing adaptive reuse — converting their underutilized office space into multifamily, industrial or another more sought-after asset — this process can be complex and costly.

Atlanta-based Greenleaf Management, however, is a real estate investment firm that is converting low-demand office properties to more attractive uses without breaking the bank. Greenleaf doesn't look to quickly flip properties. It holds on to properties for at least five years, making routine site visits so the team knows what is happening at the properties and communicating updates with investors.

“We want to show how adaptive reuse can not only be an alternative to office space but can be done cost-effectively,” Greenleaf Management partner Dave Codrea said. “From finding the right space to leasing out the property, we welcome the challenge to create something new when others may avoid this asset class altogether.”

Codrea said Greenleaf is looking beyond the surface of these spaces to find its new potential property. 

“While some of these properties may look deserted on the outside, they’re actually in excellent shape on the inside, with quality amenities, a sound layout and strong market potential due to being in a prime location,” he said. 

One property Codrea deemed an ideal space for conversion is Forum Flex, a single-story business park in Peachtree Corners, a northern suburb of Atlanta. The two-building property was built in 1998 and enjoyed high occupancy for many years. Recently, however, it experienced a large move-out, leaving the property 59% vacant. Greenleaf saw this as an opportunity to convert the unused space into an industrial flex space when it bought it in 2023. 

“We’ve been looking for well-located offices with downward trends in the market and using that as a buying opportunity to perform these conversions,” Codrea said. “Since Forum Flex has a great layout, natural lighting and space, it was a cost-effective opportunity to bring new life to this excellent submarket.” 

Greenleaf wants to replicate at Forum Flex the success it has had with other industrial flex conversions in Metro Atlanta and elsewhere in the Southeast.

The company’s goal is to provide a more affordable and flexible space for tenants to realize their small-business goals. 

“Flex space is predominantly occupied by service-level businesses,” Codrea said. “We’ve been able to create a more affordable space for tenants to grow their businesses in a location closer to where they live.”

This is important to Codrea since setting goals and helping others are pillars of Greenleaf. Greenleaf Gives, the nonprofit arm of Greenleaf, organizes four quarterly events, including a three-day summer camp for residents of some of its low-income housing. Additionally, employees are financially rewarded for achieving personal and professional goals, he said.  

Codrea said Forum Flex’s proximity to the new medical manufacturer Intuitive Surgical campus and mixed-use developments, such as Peachtree Corners Town Center and The Forum, indicate the makings of a strong submarket nearby. With more than 5 million residents in Metro Atlanta, Forum Flex has the potential to become a new hub, he said.

Codrea said his company’s mission is to create a triangular relationship among the tenants, investors and the Greenleaf team to help provide jobs and other opportunities to the community. 

While Forum Flex has three tenants — NanoLumens, CleanEarth and Floor Coverings International — Greenleaf plans to use the rest of the facility as a creative hub for other industries. He said the company will help all tenants achieve their goals by being with them every step of the way. 

Codrea said that as the office market struggles to recover, developers and investors need to be enterprising in finding solutions to adapt unwanted spaces into something more viable.

“We’re experiencing a shift in the market where the typical office space of yesteryear has become obsolete,” Codrea said. “This gives us a great opportunity to take meaningful risks to try something that's never been done before. The more successful we can be with these conversions, the better chance we can duplicate the process with a new standard for flex spaces.” 

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Greenleaf Management. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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