January 16, 2014
OliverMcMillan CEO Discusses Buckhead Atlanta Development
By Nicole Dow Morgan Dene Oliver, CEO of San Diego-based development company OliverMcMillan, drummed up excitement for the Buckhead Atlanta mixed-use project today at the Buckhead Business Association’s annual luncheon at the Atlanta History Center. “There’s no question that those cranes are spinning, if you haven’t noticed,” he said. Buckhead Atlanta will celebrate a milestone Friday as the final piece of structural steel will be placed on top of its south tower, marking the completion of vertical construction. Tenants will begin opening in July. “It’s not all going to open at once,” Oliver said. “We’ll keep opening things through the spring of 2015 and beyond that if necessary.” While he mentioned a few of the tenants that will be operating there — such as New York-based eateries Shake Shack and American Cut — Oliver didn’t make any new big announcements. “Part of the reason we haven’t talked about who the rest of the tenants are is number one, it’s a competitive world that we live in,” he said. “And number two and more importantly, … similar to being a parent — either you’re going to find out what the sex of your child is going to be or you’re going to get a surprise. We decided we’re going to surprise you.” Oliver said the company has traveled to New York, London, Paris and Milan recruiting businesses. “The majority of the people that we have signed leases with and that we’re working with right now are not here in Atlanta today,” he said. While things are looking up for the project, Oliver reflected on the various difficulties incurred throughout the years of trying to develop the property, which was first owned by Ben Carter Properties and slated to become The Streets of Buckhead. Ground broke on the project in August 2007 but construction was halted in January 2009 and did not resume until August 2012. “I can tell you that [this project] is the hardest thing that I have done in my entire career,” Oliver said. He said the collaboration amongst business, community and political leaders helped the project succeed. “One of the first things that I did when I got here was to call on your mayor [Kasim Reed],” he said. “He invited me in, shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said, ‘Welcome to Atlanta. What can I do and what can we do to help you be successful?’ He had folks immediately helping us.” “One of the first things that I did when I got here was to call on your mayor [Kasim Reed],” he said. “He invited me in, shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said, ‘Welcome to Atlanta. What can I do and what can we do to help you be successful?’ He had folks immediately helping us.” Oliver said more than $1 billion will be invested in the development overall, including the previous $350 million financed by Ben Carter Properties. A closer look: Buckhead Atlanta will include 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space, more than 100,000 square feet of office space and 370 high-rise residential units.