Category Archives: Economy

Atlanta’s Retail Market Shows Steady Growth

There are a lot of positive elements taking place in the Atlanta retail market – occupancy is at its highest in seven years, new construction is increasing and the average rental rate remains low. What’s more, analysts anticipate the growth to continue with the overall occupancy rate increasing through the end of 2015.

While high occupancy levels and low rental rates seem to be contradictory, no one is complaining about the impact it’s having in the industry. Driving the major growth in the retail market is the increase in new apartment developments in-town and suburban mixed-use developments such as the Avalon in Alpharetta.

However, the average rental rate remains low due to the abundance of outdated properties in outlying areas that are unattractive to retailers and thus difficult to lease. Retailers realize slightly higher than average rental rates in urban markets but not as high as it could be without the vacancy in rural markets.

While this news is positive and developers are hopeful it continues, Atlanta is not unlike other markets where the greatest challenge continues to be from e-commerce retailers. To compete with the convenience of on-line shopping, developers will need to be creative in their approach in creating destinations for the brick and mortar retailers to attract consumers.

McWhirter Realty Partners helps companies find current retail pace but also identifies, develops and manages new construction opportunities. Contact us today or visit our listing page for more information.

Real Estate Focus: Forsyth County

Forsyth County consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing counties in the US and currently holds the seventh position on the list according to the US Census Bureau’s 2014 Population Estimates. The Metro Atlanta suburb’s community and government is committed to smart growth, high education standards and making a positive economic impact on the state.

Since 2005, there has been marked growth of young, wealthy families moving to the northern suburb to take advantage of the highly ranked public schools and low taxes. Families also enjoy the county’s elaborate park system and growth of retail and dining experiences – all of which continue to drive the housing market.

Business is booming in Forsyth with the county alone attributing to 40 percent of North Georgia’s business growth in 2012 according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. This growth is coming equally from expansion of existing businesses and relocation of new businesses. The county has focused initiatives – like the chamber’s Business First – to grow the healthcare, technology and international industries which have consistently been strong in the area.

Forsyth County is poised to continue to attract real estate investors and developers. McWhirter Realty Partners has extensive knowledge of the county and the surrounding area. If you have questions about real estate in Forsyth County or the metro Atlanta area, contact us today.

 

Brownfield Redevelopment Benefits in Georgia

Brownfields are property with a determined contaminate, hazardous material or pollutant which makes it difficult to be redeveloped for public or private use. A brownfield in a successful business or residential community has the obvious attraction of location but liability and cleanup costs most often deter potential developers from pursuing such properties.  

By limiting liability to a new owner, as well as providing tax incentives, Federal and state programs now make the cleanup task more appealing, which produces both environmental and economic benefits. The Georgia Brownfield program removes the future environmental liability from a new owner/developer and provides tax incentives to help recover costs for the investigation and the cleanup by “freezing” the assessed value of the property for up to ten years[1] or until costs have been recovered. So as the property value increases, the owner benefits in tax savings. 

Turning an unused property into a thriving business helps the economic vitality of the community as well. For example, in 2012, McWhirter Realty Partners purchased an abandoned convenient store in Athens, Georgia, that had been vacant for ten years due to a tremendous amount of contamination. The location, within the 5-Points neighborhood of Athens and less than a half-mile from the University of Georgia campus, was redeveloped following a plan successfully approved by Athens-Clarke County and the State’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD). Today, the site is home to Grindhouse Killer Burgers. 

Another example of a successful brownfield project is the former City of Norcross landfill. In the 1970’s the City of Norcross closed its landfill located on Reps Miller Road in the heart of Peachtree Corners. A partnership, led by McWhirter Realty Partners, acquired the 9 acre property for a future industrial development. After holding the land for many years, the company turned its focus to redeveloping the property for residential. With cooperation from the State EDP and geotechnical and environmental consultants, McWhirter Realty Partners removed all of the landfill and successfully rezoned the property for 90 townhome units. Greenwood Townhomes continues to thrive on the property today.  

What’s more, an EPA study found that residential property values increased by up to 12 percent within a one-mile radius of a brownfield assessment or cleanup[2]. And removing abandoned property can also reduce the prevalence of crime, loitering and vandalism. 

For more information on brownfield redevelopment in Georgia visit the EPD of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 

[1] Georgia Brownfields Program

[2] www.epa.gov/brownfields

Economic Benefits of Adaptive Reuse

Major cities nationwide are experiencing a return to urban living and Atlanta is realizing the benefits of this growing trend.  The city is striving to provide an appealing urban center – a live-work-play environment – to reap the long term economic advantage from this population migration. One way the city is transforming neighborhoods is through adaptive reuse –renovating an old building for a purpose other than originally intended. 

Ranked as a Top 25 City for Millennials by Niche.com in 2014, Atlanta offers a classic city atmosphere with its lively entertainment, deep history and convenient public transportation options. The expansion of Georgia State University and the stability of Georgia Tech has increased the demand for convenient urban residences while the relocation of major corporate headquarters to the city requires unique dining and entertainment options. What’s more, Atlanta is gaining popularity as a retirement destination due to its climate and accessibility from Hartsfield-Jackson International airport. 

The economic benefits of adaptive reuse include: 

  • Preserving the city’s historical character while revitalizing an area’s economy by attracting productive populations.
  • Developers can more affordably buy and renovate a building than replace the same building.
  • Historical features and location tend to draw higher rent or purchase prices.
  • Commercial properties in walkable area show greater appreciation.
  • Transforming empty spaces brings in tax revenue and decreases the opportunity for crime and vandalism. 

McWhirter Realty Partners is knowledgeable of the metro Atlanta area and properties available for adaptive reuse. Contact us today or visit our listing page for more information on our current opportunities.