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Commercial Real Estate in Peachtree Corners Stays Strong Through the Pandemic



Peachtree Corners Shopping Center.

The pandemic was not kind to certain sectors of the commercial real estate landscape.

Restaurants and small businesses shut down for a time, with some going out of business entirely. In some places, investor interest in office buildings, warehouses and retail centers dried up. Their vacancy rates leaped, and sales volume plummeted.

Then there’s the Peachtree Corners story, which is noticeably different.

Different approaches

“There was only a mild slowdown during the pandemic,” said Jennifer Howard, the city’s economic development director. “Our city is unique. We have taken a couple of different approaches to economic development here.”

Amazon Logistics Center

That includes policy changes enabling mixed-use property developers to enhance their projects. An overlay district was created, and redevelopment incentives were put in place, under which developers can earn credits for greater density in return for adding such things as public art and trails and vehicle charging stations. Additional city enhancements have included partial support of the Curiosity Lab vehicle testing track, a startup incubator and coding school.

“I think you need to look at the fact that the city manager and the mayor and city council have been very welcoming to businesses,” said Brad Kuehn, President of Atlanta Office Realty, Inc. He gives additional props to the city’s emphasis on amenities such as parks and trails, walkability and Town Center.

What city officials see as a downturn instead of a disaster during the heart of the pandemic is borne out by a look at the numbers.

Take sales volume, for example. Howard quotes figures from the CoStar real estate information company. Total sales volume was around $160,000,000 in the first quarter of 2020, then it fell off as low as $25,000,000 the last quarter of the year, but it has quickly rebounded to $170,000,000.

Projects in the pipeline

Transactions happened and leases were signed even as COVID cases rose and many people stayed hidden away. “We had been pushing so much energy into the pipeline that even when things came to a halt, we still had projects moving forward and filling the pipeline,” is how Howard explained it.

One such “pipeline filler” was an investor group from Atlanta purchasing a 1980s-era strip shopping center at 7050 Jimmy Carter Boulevard, said Elliott Kyle, Vice President with Skyline Seven Real Estate.

He said that buyers backed off deals like that for a few months during the worst of the Coronavirus, but he added that’s been over for a while.

“We got some really good interest on it,” he said of the shopping plaza anchored by a closed fitness center, which he said would ordinarily be a tougher sell. A recent leasing flyer on the property shows well over half the spaces have been leased.

“It’s the quality properties that are getting snapped up quickly,” Kyle said. Those that flunk the quality test or are overpriced are the ones that are languishing, he indicated.

Readily available cash and fears about the near future are driving many deals, he said. “I think what it was, was that people were sitting on money (during the pandemic) and they needed to get a return,” Kyle maintained. Another factor is the prospect of interest rates rising and buyers wanting to lock in a favorable rate now.

Another signature project that developed as COVID raged involved healthcare staffing firm Soliant Health, which moved its headquarters to Peachtree Corners. They announced in August that they had signed a lease on a building at 5550 Peachtree Parkway in Technology Park. Some 400 jobs came with that.

Not sitting on its laurels for long, the firm announced a headquarters expansion in June and the addition of 200 more to the workforce.

Downward trend in vacancies

A number of other real estate transactions have come to a revitalizing Tech Park, including post-acute-care tech solutions firm Brightree renovating a 1970s building and moving its home base there. The deal finished in December of 2019, just before Coronavirus began its deadly spread.

Commercial real estate observers said transactions like the above demonstrate a market that ranges from “stable” to “active”, depending on who you talk to. Another sign of that is a vacancy rate that has steadily trended downward since the city incorporated nine years ago.

Again, with a nod to the Costar service, Howard said the current office, retail and industrial vacancy rate in Peachtree corners is 13.7%. She said that number edged up modesty during the pandemic to 14.5% and then dipped to 12.75% for a time.

“The vacancy rate actually decreased during the pandemic because of projects in the pipeline,” she said.

One factor cited in connection with vacancy rates is a number of smaller entrepreneurial firms locating in Peachtree Corners, plus larger corporations beginning to look at moving here from Atlanta addresses.

“Gentrification is happening there and as it relates to say, Buckhead, it’s a huge discount for an occupier,” said commercial real estate firm NAI Brannen Goddard Senior Vice President Rusty Bennett, citing Peachtree Corners lease rates that are about half of that of spots like Midtown and the Ponce City Market neighborhood.

Warehouse and office space

Industry executives also said that the warehouse piece of the commercial market is going very well around the metro area partly because of a tightening supply and also due to a thriving logistics marketplace segment. They maintain that a portion of that is due to conversion of such one-story warehouse facilities to office space.

Then there are projects pulling office space off the market and paring down the supply in Peachtree Corners, such as adaptive reuse ventures. One is at 5720 Peachtree Parkway, where an existing several-story office building and some one-story business condos will become a mixed-use development with a large residential presence.

City council member Weare Gratwick sounds a cautionary note about that trend involving aging commercial buildings, however. “Speaking as a council member, our challenge is balancing how much adaptive re-use of office product we should have against preserving office space,” Gratwick said.

He says while such factors as workers wanting to settle closer to their jobs is a driver, “the challenge is to balance that, because once you lose that office space it’s gone forever.”

Another factor cited is the city’s much-lauded Curiosity Lab, a public-private partnership aimed at attracting technology businesses and helping them grow. Kuehn, for one, thinks those companies will pull together and incubate, and that once they can stand on their own, they’ll go find office space.

“And many of them will stay in Peachtree Corners,” he maintained.

No sign of shortages

Even with absorption happening, local realtors and industry observers don’t see any kind of shortage of office space developing in the city. On the other hand, at least one observer of the market doesn’t foresee significant additions on the supply side.

Said David McEachern, the local director at Keller Williams Chattahoochee North, “what we’re not seeing is the development of new shopping centers or office buildings because there’s enough supply right now, even in the case of warehouses. That will help constrain supply to a certain extent.”

Meantime, he and others said investor interest is relatively strong at the moment, citing his listing on Holcomb Bridge Road for a 10,000 square foot office building. He said quite a few potential investors have come calling,“I personally think it’s a good solid market and we’re not going to see a bunch of new buildings created,” said McEachern. He and others point out that Peachtree Corners is, for the most, part built out.

There’s speculation within the industry on how this stew of factors will impact lease, rental and per-square-foot sale pricing. Bennett thinks that the combination of property being absorbed and solid interest on the part of investors and companies is contributing to higher lease rates.

Howard, with the city, has some numbers that appear to back that up, saying that there’s been a steady increase in rent prices in the commercial market, on the order of 2% to 4% a year. She said that last year was a bit slower than the long term, with growth of 2¼%.

Grappling with a new normal

Kuehn indicates the above numbers are important because “there are still people out looking to buy a building, but the majority of offices are leases.” When those leases come due over the next few years, a wild-card factor in all this is how companies might reduce their office space, having seen that at least some workers can do their jobs from home.

Recently passed Mixed Use Development that stretches from 5672 through 5720 Peachtree Parkway.

Local real estate people say the jury’s still out on that and probably will be for a few years. Said McEachern, “What will be interesting to see and, I think will get filtered out, is as those leases start to expire this year, next year and three to five years out, is what they do with their existing space. I think that’s going to constrain additional office building because we will probably see some reduction of square footage with people working at home more.”

Others foresee a somewhat different direction, with greater movement of employees back to their cubicles. “My gut feel is that, over time, people are going to gravitate being back more in the office than remotely.

It might take a couple of years, but I think that’s ultimately where we’re going to end up,” said
Tom Rhodes, partner and chair at Meadows and Ohly, a Peachtree Corners real estate firm specializing in healthcare facilities.

Gratwick — and others in the business world — point out that those working on their computers from home largely lose their shot at being mentored, building personal relationships and collaborating face-to-face with coworkers.

With the remoting trend, some think companies may reduce their square footage while having workers come in a day or two a week, sharing their space and working from home otherwise. Others say the trend toward open-plan office space will reduce square-footage needs.

As to what impact this would have on lease, rental and square-foot pricing in sales, it’s too soon for some to say, but Rhodes thinks it could force lease rates downward.

“Maybe we’ll see hoteling of office space,” he said. “It might not necessarily reduce square footage, but it’ll mean a reconfiguring and that space won’t increase as a firm grows.”

Up and coming projects

It’s safe to say Peachtree Corners officials are keeping that and other trends in mind as they celebrate new commercial projects coming online, one of them an Amazon logistics center at 4925 Avalon Ridge, another deal which developed during the worst days of COVID. The Black Creek Group real estate management firm purchased the property one year ago, leased it out to the retail giant and trucks are expected to be rolling this fall.

Other announcements may well be coming. McEachern tells of getting a call from a software company owner in the Peachtree Corners area. He says he and three others are looking to spend $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 on commercial locations.

The city’s live-work-play emphasis and focus creating jobs in tandem with places for workers to stay here has seemingly worked well to this point. Said Howard, “Our approach has been focused on innovation and fostering companies and on economic development through community development in creating a place where people want to live.”

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Peachtree Corners Councilman’s Journey to Opening a Dog Park Haven



Peachtree Corners Dog Park by Louis Svehla

When Peachtree Corners City Councilman Alex Wright last had a dog, he was only a kid.

Young Alex was devastated when he died and did not want to get another dog because he did not want to endure that trauma again. 

As a result, his family has never had a dog, and even though the two youngest of his four children badgered him and his wife endlessly, they always said no. 

Then COVID-19 hit. The Wrights’ youngest son, Michael, was committed to convincing his parents to get a dog. He even did a PowerPoint presentation (with music) explaining why he absolutely needed a dog. 

Michael and Murphy courtesy of Councilman Wright

“I guess it was from being cooped up during Covid that my wife suggested maybe we should give in. Next thing I know we tell the kids we are going to get a dog,” Councilman Wright wrote in an email.

So, in June 2021, they got their first dog, Murphy, an Australian Labradoodle. 

“All of a sudden, we discover this whole dog subculture that we had not really paid attention to before.  All the things dogs liked to do, all the stuff you could buy them, all the people we met through walking the dog,” he explained. 

In February, Wright and his wife were at Avalon returning a purchase when they came upon a modest-sized dog park. Wright’s wife suggested having something like that at Town Green would be great. 

Dog Park Ribbon Cutting photos by George Hunter

“Later that day, I texted the City Manager [Brian Johnson] about the idea, and he really liked it.  At the time, the playground (the one that opened in August 2022) was under construction, and we were already discussing other ideas to create activation at the Town Center, so this fit right into that plan,” said Wright.

The assistant City Manager, Seth Yurman, was tasked with the nuts and bolts and worked with a contractor on location and design. 

“Can’t say enough about what a great job Seth did. We have definitely had some supply chain delays, which resulted in an opening maybe 9 to 12 months later than originally hoped for, but it is finally open,” he added.

Dog Park Ribbon Cutting photos by George Hunter

A couple more things are still left to do for the project, including installing a large sail cover over the stone entrance area. Construction of the Bone Bar is also on the agenda. This small bar will serve adult and non-adult beverages and likely…you guessed it? Treats for dogs. 

The new dog park is situated behind the CineBistro building near the Town Green. The Peachtree Corners Off-Leash Dog Park is approximately 9,000 square feet and is divided into sections for smaller and larger dogs, with natural and artificial turf areas.

Dog Park Ribbon Cutting photos by George Hunter

PTC Dog Park Rules

  • The dog park is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The dog park is CLOSED for maintenance every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Use of the dog park is at your own risk.  You are responsible for your dog and any injuries or damage caused by your dog.
  • All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • All dogs must wear a collar with a valid license and have current vaccinations required by law.
  • Please call 911 for all emergencies.
  • The small dog area is for dogs 30 pounds and under.  Dogs over 30 pounds must use the large dog area.
  • Dogs must stay on a leash until they are in the fenced-in areas of the dog park and must be off-leash while in the dog park.
  • Professional dog trainers may not use the dog park to conduct business.
  • No person shall bring more than three dogs at one time.
  • Please dispose of your dog’s waste in the receptacles provided. Remind others to do the same.
  • Dogs must always be under the control and supervision of their handler.
  • If your dog becomes aggressive, please leash the dog and exit the park immediately.
  • Gates must be closed after entrance and exit.
  • Dogs under six months old and female dogs in heat are not permitted.
  • Food (human and dog) and glass containers are not permitted, as are smoking, vaping and drug use.
  • Cats and other animals are not permitted.
  • Bikes, scooters, skateboards and motorized equipment are not permitted.
  • Violation of these rules may result in a ban from the dog park.

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Memorial Park Planned to Honor Memory of Late Peachtree Corners First Lady



To honor and remember Debbie Mason, the first and only first lady of Peachtree Corners, who passed away after a long battle with cancer, a memorial park is being built.
Debbie Mason with her Yorkie

To honor and remember Debbie Mason, the first and only first lady of Peachtree Corners, who passed away after a long battle with cancer, a memorial park is being built.

A Peachtree Corners Arts Council subcommittee was formed to plan, develop and execute the park. Debbie Mason Memorial Park committee members include Lynette Howard, Robyn Unger, Bob Ballagh, Dave Huffman, Gay Shook, Sarah Roberts and Pat Bruschini.

“Lynette Howard led us in some brainstorming and creative sessions about what the garden should look like,” said Bruschini. “We had pictures of her backyard. Some of us had been to her backyard. It took a couple of months until we got a handle and feel for what we wanted the garden to be and what we thought [Mason] would want.”

One unique feature will be a Yorkie statue, Mason’s favorite dog, perched on top of a coffee table-like boulder encircled by granite benches. The brochure for the fundraising campaign will feature a photo of Mason and her beloved pet.

After looking at a few possible locations, a tract of land near the city’s botanical garden was chosen.

“The area where the park is going had been semi-developed,” said Buschini. “If you’re standing on the sidewalk with your back to the new dog park or your back to Cinebistro, you’ll see a granite semi-circle wall and steps that come down from Peachtree Corners Circle. We are enhancing that area.”

Debbie Mason Memorial Garden Plan Pikes plan showing Phase 1 and Phase 2

Everyone involved wanted the park to be near Town Center and accessible to everyone. So, an offshoot of the botanical garden, a property owned by the Downtown Development Authority, made the most sense, Bruschini added.

The park will be connected to Town Center with one entrance off Peachtree Corners Circle across from Davini Court.

“We have a complete plot plan designed by a landscape architect from Pike Nursery. Jennifer Freeman, a Duluth mosaic artist, created a mosaic design of the city logo,” said Bruschini.

The Debbie Mason Memorial Garden will be the city’s first park. Although there are other parks within city limits, this is the only one that will be owned and maintained by the city. 

To improve its access, the city is working with the Solis Apartment Complex being built nearby.

The plan is to have an extensive sidewalk connecting to the park. Construction of the park is underway and plant material will go in this fall. There will be a ribbon cutting and dedication shortly after that. 

But for now, the committee wants everyone to know that it’s coming and contributions are welcome. Find the wish list for the Debbie Mason Memorial Garden at the end of this article.

The memorial is fitting because Mason really was Peachtree Corners, said Bruschini.

“She was a volunteer extraordinaire,” she said. I met her on the board of the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, and she headed up the Peachtree Parkway Improvement Project for six years. That’s where she would contact all the businesses along 141 and ask them to make a contribution so that the median strip could be maintained.”

Mason also co-founded the beloved Peachtree Corners Festival alongside Dave Huffman.

Garden Site Construction

In 2008, there was a tour of homes in Peachtree Corners, and the funds raised went to solar lights to light up the sign going into Peachtree Corners. Mason was front and center with that.  But she always had time for family, Bruschini said.

“Her son Nick was in drama at Norcross High School, and she was very involved in that. And she worked with the taste of Norcross High School going back, I’ll say, 20 years maybe,” she said.

“She and Mike started the Fox Hill Homeowners Association and she worked with the Peachtree Corners Yes campaign and served on the board of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful as well as the City Arts Council and also the first City Green committee. This is fitting because she always wanted to make memories in Peachtree Corners,” she explained.

Garden Sponsorship Items

  • Mosaic Logo – $10,000
  • Mosaic River – (3) $5,000 each
  • Bronze Plaque – $3,000
  • Arbor – (3) $1,000 each
  • Japanese Maple – $800
  • Flowerpots full of color – (3) $500 each
  • Dogwoods (3) $500 each
  • Tea Olives – (6) $400 each
  • Yorkie Dog Statue – $300
  • Azalea/Hydrangeas (40) – $60 each

Garden Sponsorship Levels

  • $1000: Platinum
  • $500: Gold
  • $250: Silver
  • $100: Bronze
  • $50: Friends of the Garden

Ways to Donate
Checks are preferred and are payable to:
Peachtree Corners Arts, Inc. Attn: DMMC
PO Box 922469
Peachtree Corners, GA 30092

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Peachtree Corners’ Waterside Community Unveils Clubhouse and Amenities [+ PHOTOS]



Waterside Community's upgraded clubhouse

The Providence Group of Georgia, a Atlanta homebuilder and developer, and its joint venture partner East Jones Bridge River Holdings, LLC, has put a whole new spin on amenities in the community of Waterside.

Located in Peachtree Corners and situated along the shores of the Chattahoochee River, Waterside provides multiple housing options that promote inter-generational living for those looking for a age-in-place community.

The 7,100 square-foot community clubhouse has a health and fitness center including aerobics room, two massage rooms and spa. There is a kitchen on the terrace level as well as a catering kitchen, expansive indoor and outdoor gathering rooms, card room and conference spaces on the main level.

“This marks a significant milestone for the Waterside community as it opens the doors to this exciting, state-of-the-art clubhouse amenity, which will allow for endless opportunities for social engagement throughout the community,” said Lisa Murphy, VP of Strategy at The Providence Group.

The gated community is also approved for golf carts so residents can take full advantage of this Peachtree Corners location, which was recently named to the Fortune 2023 list of 50 Best Places to Live for Families.

 “Waterside residents will enjoy the balance of city conveniences and genuine outdoor, close to nature and state-of-the-art amenities, said Ty White, Partner with East Jones Bridge River Holdings. “Whether you are looking for outdoor activities, shopping, dining or entertainment, you will find it just minutes from your front door.”

Located one mile from The Forum on Peachtree Parkway, Waterside’s initial phase of development focused on single-family detached homes, two-story and three-story townhomes with elevator options and unique one, two and three bedroom condos with private garages and no shared corridors.

Construction is now underway in phase 2, which will be a continuation of townhomes and condominiums, as well as 13 unique single family homes with views of the Chattahoochee River.

Learn more about Waterside in Peachtree Corners by visiting here.

Photos courtesy of Waterside Community

For more Peachtree Corners land use and development news, click here!

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