Buckhead Atlanta Celebrates Milestone Topping Out
January 17, 2014
Buckhead Atlanta Celebrates Milestone Topping Out
Buckhead View

“Today is a real milestone in this project for many of us who thought this day would never come,” said Balfour Beatty Construction Georgia President Al Petrangeli at Friday’s topping out ceremony at OliverMcMillan’s Buckhead Atlanta. Balfour Beatty has been involved with the project since Ben Carter broke ground on The Streets of Buckhead in 2006,by tearing down one of Buckhead Village’s old bars with a backhoe. And, their cranes sat idle between Carter pulling out and OliverMcMillan taking over the project in 2011. Petrangeli told a mixed crowd of construction workers, Buckhead business leaders, architects for the project, civic leaders and more that it is unusual for one construction company to work with two different developers on the same project for almost a decade. “Those who have been involved since the beginning thought this day would never come…that this project would never start again,” the Balfour Beatty president added. Today, he explained, it has been “seven months of construction since the green flag was dropped” and there are 825 construction workers on the project every day. Pedtrangeli explained that the project is divided into three distinct parcels and “any one of the three would be a challenge in itself. We are working on all three concurrently,” and the project is on pace to have some retail and residential openings in July. The topping out ceremony Friday gave those who have been involved—the developer, contractors and even the public—an opportunity to take stock of how difficult it has been to create this 8-block community within Buckhead and how far it has come in the past seven months. After languishing as two large holes in the heart of Buckhead’s landscape for what seemed to locals like an eternity after Carter stopped construction, the project was taken over by OliverMcMillan in 2011. And, last summer, OM secured a $167 million construction loan, one of the largest originated in the U.S. last year. That is when the cranes that had sat idle for years began moving again and the pace of activity really picked up, bringing the players together for Friday’s milestone ceremony. (Click here to view photos of the ceremony.) But, Petrangeli also had another milestone to announce Friday. As of December, 500,000 manhours had been logged on the job without a loss work incident—a major safety accomplishment with such intense construction activity. Turning on stage to OliverMcMillan CEO Dene Oliver, Petrangeli recounted that Oliver has told him more than once that this is the hardest project he has ever done. “Our team is committed to make Buckhead Atlanta the best project you have ever done,” Petrangeli stated. OliverMcMillan’s Director of Development and Buckhead Atlanta project manager Hunter Richardson introduced his boss by saying he has known Oliver for 20 years and describing him as being “hands-on” and “having a phenomenal knack for details.” Recognizing that topping out ceremonies are primarily for the construction workers, Oliver said, "None of this happens without the people in hard hats and yellow vests. Everything out here is still handmade and it’s your hands that have made it,” he added making reference to today’s digital age. Oliver singled out Martha Kitchens as the top construction person for OliverMcMilllan’s entire team and also for her stylish presence. “Thank you, we are all proud of you,” he told her. Oliver also singled out “my friend (Atlanta Mayor) Kasim Reed” who on their first meeting said to Oliver, “Welcome to Atlanta. What can we do to make you successful.“ “When you are making a decision about a $1 billion project, that is what you want to hear,” Oliver stated. Anticipating Reed will run for a higher office in the future, Oliver added, “I will be right at his side. I believe in this young man.” Oliver said, “Failure was never an option.” When it came his time to talk, Reed said, “You can feel something amazing is happening here. This feels like a city should feel,” he said referring to the Buckhead site as some of the most valuable real estate not only in Atlanta, but in Georgia and the Southeast. Referring to Buckhead’s former holes in the ground and Atlanta’s symbol the Rising Phoenix, Reed said, “The city is up off its knees again.” He credited OliverMcMillan with helping save Atlanta as one of the best cities in the U.S. “because of your work and commitment here.” Buckhead Atlanta is 8 blocks of new development that will total 1.5 million square feet and include 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, cafes and entertainment; more than 100,000 square feet of custom office space; 370 luxury residential apartments in two high-rise towers and 2,400 parking spaces. “The most important thing here is not the buildings,” Oliver said. “The most important thing is going to be a sense of community, a sense of place. Whether you spend a dime or not, we hope it is going to be a place where you want to be.” Declaring the Buckhead Atlanta project is “about as cool a thing as you can get to do,” Oliver stated, “We are going to care inch-by-inch that you have a great experience here.”

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