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5 Insights Into Midtown And Downtown Development

From the health of the multifamily market in Midtown and the man behind the Ferris wheel to spec office and the reason for more amphitheater seating, here are five things we learned at our Big Show: Midtown & Downtown event last week.

1. The Developer Who Was Instrumental For SkyView Atlanta

Todd Schneider SkyView Partners

SkyView Partners' Todd Schneider says local developer Jim Cumming was a big reason the Downtown Atlanta Ferris wheel is rotating today. And at the moment, Todd says they're working on plans to put a Chick-fil-A underneath the attraction along Luckie Street, a Margaritaville restaurant and a bar named It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere.

2. Centennial Olympic Park's Economic Impact

Todd Hill DTJ Design

DTJ Design's Todd Hill, one of the key designers of the Downtown Atlanta park's first version, says the legacy park has generated $1.4B in economic activity around it, despite downtown's continued problems with “perception of safety and security.”

“If you look at all these legacy parks that came out of the Olympics, this is the most successful.” He also adds that plans to expand the park's amphitheater are needed. “We're missing some of the other acts that come into town that need the revenue from a 2,000-seat venue.”

3. Parking Needs Could Shrink

Ken Kraft, Parker Hudson Rainer Dobbs Richard Aaronson, Atlantic Realty Partners Scott Leventhall, Trillist Co, John Portman IV, Portman Holdings-

With the growth of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, Atlantic Realty Partners' Richard Aaronson says, “I think we'll see a dramatic reduction of parking in Midtown.”

Richard was part of a panel that involved Parker Hudson Rainer Dobbs' Ken Kraft (as moderator), The Trillist Cos's Scott Leventhal and Portman Holdings' John Portman IV. Scott echoed the declining demand for parking, noting many Midtown residents use a car Monday through Thursday and then “won't touch it over the weekend.”

The benefit? Richard says lower parking ratios will “create an opportunity to build better projects on smaller pieces of land.”

4. The Midtown Apartment Cycle Coming To An End?

Atlantic Realty Partners Richard Aaronson

Richard's company is developing Azure on the Park, which will include a 23rd floor Infinity pool overlooking Piedmont Park. He says the current pipeline of multifamily may be it for a while.

With 2,500 units delivering every year through 2018, “I think for Midtown, we're probably deep in the cycle," Richard says. "That's a lot of product to absorb.” Scott says it's the new product that will likely perform well at the expense of Midtown's older apartment stock as renters “look for the shinier new toy.”

5. Don't Expect A Slew Of New Office Buildings

John Portman IV Portman Holdings

With banks still gun shy from the Great Recession, and pre-leasing requirements still steep, John says it's not likely you'll see the four or more spec office towers sprout up in Atlanta as we saw in the last cycle. He notes Coda only took off after half was pre-leased by Georgia Tech. John also told us after the event that his firm has an LOI and is nearing another—each under 100k SF—for office space at Coda.