Atlanta is on fire again! This time it’s a march to see and be a part of the city’s impressive growth in business and development. For five years running Atlanta has claimed the top spot on Penske’s list of top U.S. moving destinations. The robust influx of educated workers speaks to the tremendous opportunity found in the Capital of the South. The mild weather, favorable cost of living and many attractions definitely sweeten the appeal.
“You can see Atlanta’s ascension in the metro’s continued population growth, the city’s startup business boom and its very strong development wave, which includes vibrant mixed-use developments such as Emory Point across from the CDC and the recent addition of major cultural attractions like the National Center for Civil & Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame,” said Dan Graveline, 33-year director of the Georgia World Congress Center.
The civil rights museum and hall of fame debuted in downtown Atlanta last summer. In case you missed it, The New York Times included downtown as one of the 52 places to go in 2014 – and one of only eight U.S. cities on its list. Atlanta even has two stadium projects ongoing for the Falcons and Braves that combined will generate approximately 10,000 jobs.
Although the Peach State’s unemployment rate has lagged of late, that hasn’t stopped Site Selection magazine from declaring Georgia No. 1 for the second consecutive year in its ranking of best state business climates. According to CBRE Inc.’s mid-2014 analysis of office rents and wage costs in major U.S. metros, Atlanta offers the most value for employers, coming in at 25, 31 and 38 percent more cost effective than our nation’s capital, New York and San Francisco, respectively. PulteGroup moved its headquarters from Michigan to Atlanta last summer, WorldPay and Prince Global Sports have similar moves in the works, and Mercedes-Benz recently declared that it will roll the automaker’s U.S. base of operations into town this summer.
Georgia State University’s Economic Forecasting Center projected that Atlanta will add almost 175,000 jobs from 2014 through 2016. CBRE reported that Atlanta experienced employment growth in the technology sector of nearly 11 percent between 2011 and 2013. Ponce City Market, the nation’s largest historic tax preservation project, has attracted leading tech firms such as MailChimp, athenahealth, Cardlytics, HowStuffWorks and now Twitter.
So when do mixed results mean major market momentum? That’d be here and now. Mixed-use behemoths Avalon, Buckhead Atlanta and Jamestown‘s 2.1 million-square-foot Ponce City Market will open from September 2014 into this year, infusing character and enthusing consumers from the northern suburbs to the Old Fourth Ward. Crescent Communities President Brian Leary told Globe St. that the three “extremely unique” developments, which total around 1.17 million sq. ft. of retail space, might make Atlanta a “national anomaly.”
As the saying goes, retail follows rooftops. In November, Fannie Mae reported that consumer confidence in housing, which, historically, contributes 17 to 18 percent of GDP, hit an “all-time high.”
“Atlanta is showing signs of returning to its prior form of leading the country in population and household growth,” Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com’s chief economist, told CNN Money.
The metro area is expected to see a 6 percent increase in home-owning households in the next 5 years, and, according to MPF Research, the metro’s apartment sector achieved a post-recession record occupancy rate and a two-decade high annual rent increase in third quarter 2014.
“Nationwide demographic momentum, especially in the prime Millennial renting segment, finds especially fertile ground in Atlanta where dynamic industries, top-notch universities, a unique culture and reasonable cost of living all come together,” said Cris Sullivan, executive vice president of Gables Residential, which continues to see high rents and waiting lists at the expanding Emory Point.
Like ordering The General Muir Burger or Ecco’s fried goat cheese balls, there is so much flavor and excitement in our city right now. People making places (and movies), places attracting people and all making a big difference. Now if only the Braves and Falcons would get on board the winning wave!