Developer Explains Thinking Behind Buckhead Atlanta
January 16, 2014
Developer Explains Thinking Behind Buckhead Atlanta
Atlanta Business Chronicle

By Douglas Sams Developer OliverMcMillan caught a lot of grief when it changed the name of Streets of Buckhead, a $1 billion mixed-use project that stalled during the recession. When OliverMcMillan took over the development in 2011, it renamed the project "Buckhead Atlanta." The new moniker wasn’t an immediate hit. Some called it boring. Others said it was confusing. Today, OliverMcMillan CEO Dene Oliver explained again why “Buckhead Atlanta” seemed like the best fit. “The Streets of Buckhead, to us, tended to have a connotation of a certain finite area of these particular streets,” Oliver told the Buckhead Business Association on Thursday. “But, at the end of the day, this is not a project — it’s a block by block redevelopment of your downtown. And, you don’t go to Madison Avenue or the Gaslamp (Quarter) and suddenly take one part of an area you’re developing and create this whole new identity. Buckhead is the identity. The city is Atlanta.” Oliver went on to say the project’s name helped European markets better identify with Buckhead. “They all knew where Atlanta was,” Oliver said. “And, if they didn’t, it was our job to teach them.” Many of the retailers OliverMcMillan has landed at Buckhead Atlanta are new to the city, such as luxury Italian label Etro. The retailers further validated Buckhead Atlanta, a long-awaited redevelopment of a former bar district in the Buckhead Village. Last summer, OliverMcMillan struck a deal with its first anchor office tenant — the $1 billion, underwear company Spanx Inc. The Atlanta-based business also plans to open a flagship retail store there. Construction continues to pick up speed. More than 800 workers are on the site, up from about 600 last month. Oliver also gave a nod to former Streets of Buckhead developer Ben Carter, who assembled the land at Peachtree, Pharr and East Paces Ferry roads in 2006. Carter eventually had to walk away from the development after the economy undermined its momentum. Construction was halted for more than a year. “We would not have had this opportunity, if not for those that came before us,” Oliver said. “So, it’s a new day, and it’s a new group, and it’s going to be a different project. It’s going to be the best project that we are able to deliver. I can also tell you it’s the hardest thing that I have done in my entire career.”

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