Business all too good in the ATL

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It’s all too easy in Atlanta – and anywhere else I suppose – to get bogged down in the weeds. But if you take the time to stand up and look around, things are really good here in the ATL.

I was talking to a friend of mine over the weekend. He is an integral part of an important company headquartered here in Atlanta. He told me that recruiters are calling him all the time trying to get him to take similar positions at other local companies.

He has no plans of leaving his job, but it’s a comfort for him to know that if he had to he could easily jump ship and land squarely on his feet.

The metro area added 70,800 new jobs last year, the 10th largest improvement of all the major U.S. metropolitan cities.

New corporations and talented employees are moving here every day. As a result, the metro area is undergoing a renaissance of quality development.

With new employees comes the need for new office space and new places for people to live. There is enough demand to rival what we went through back in the 1980s and 1990s – but this time, the expectations are significantly higher.

With more experienced city planners and banks requiring developers to prove the long-term economic viability of their projects, today’s developments are catapulting our quality of life.

It’s insane what is going on. In intown Atlanta, just look at fun projects like the “Beer Gardens on the Beltline,” the redevelopment of the Historic Old Fourth Ward Park and Ponce City Market.

In Dunwoody, cranes have been working steadily on the State Farm campus and around the MARTA station there. Just east in Sandy Springs you’ll see construction of Mercedes-Benz’ new North American Headquarters, as well as the new city center.

Just south of there you’ll see the $2 billion redevelopment of the old GM plant in Doraville.

Alpharettans are seeing the second phase of Avalon finish up, the ground breaking of their new city-center and the submission of a $450 million office project on a mixed-use campus. And that’s just to name a few. I left out the Roman coliseum and the tech campus.

I ran into my friend Lamar Wakefield of Wakefield Beasley & Associates last week. I was floored to hear about all of the new suburban city centers that his firm is designing around the metro area. And these are ambitious projects where city planners are working with developers to create real downtowns with unique character, and good balances of mixed-use to create economically viable projects where residents can live, work and play.

If you stand up and look above the weeds, you won’t find this kind of development going on in other cities. We are living in great times where developers and city planners are thinking big.

That’s why it pained me to read Hatcher Hurd’s article last week about the dirty politics taking place in the Roswell City Council election.

Roswell is teeming with opportunity, perhaps more than any other suburban city. Roswell Mayor Jere Wood worked hard over the last 20 years, leading the charge to secure more parkland than probably anywhere else in the metro area – maybe the southeast. Much of it runs along the Chattahoochee River and is preserved with walking and biking trails.

The natural amenities are huge here. Throw that in with the preserved southern mansions, the 150- year-old buildings, and Canton Street, and you have a city with a serious “It” factor.

It’s a shame that with all this beauty and growth, many people only want to see the traffic. No doubt it’s a concern, but it’s a sign of success.

And our city leaders are working hard to alleviate it. It’s been said a million different ways, but the truth is you are either growing or dying. And here in the ATL, we are surely growing and life is very good.


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