Evolving workforce reshaping Atlanta’s commercial real estate game

Claire Ross UCREW

Claire Ross

High Street. Midtown Union. 8 West. Star Metals. The Boundary. Jar House. These are just a handful of the developments that are helping define Atlanta’s growing commercial real estate office pipeline across Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead and beyond.

When the JLL “Q1 2019 Atlanta Metro and Submarket” report hit my desk recently, the numbers jumped off the page. Seven new projects totaling nearly 1.2 million square feet of space broke ground in the first quarter alone, accompanied by 507,915 square feet of positive net absorption in the area.

And the good news did not stop there. Long known as a secondary market for commercial real estate, rental rates in Atlanta broke the $30 mark (eventually hitting $31.45). The rates – which signify Class A rental status – are a monumental milestone for the burgeoning market.

Maybe that is why more and more Fortune 500 companies are seeking out Atlanta as a place to call home. A bastion of 21st Century economic growth and sustainability, Atlanta offers the type of flexibility today’s new workforce demands.

Enter the Millennial/Centennial/Gen Z factor. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, more than one-in-three American labor force participants (35 percent) are millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000). By 2020, millennials are forecasted to comprise half of the American workforce, and by 2025, they will make up 75 percent of the global workforce.

Not long ago, employers sought office locations that catered to the 9-5 set. Amenities that ticked the box included things like conference facilities and fitness centers. Not anymore. Now it is all about the experience and flexibility.

That requires employers reinventing the make-up of their campuses. It means ticking off a whole new set of boxes, focusing more on building an environment that matches the urban core of the city. Conference facilities and fitness centers are giving way to workspaces located near restaurants and other healthy dining options, craft breweries for Happy Hour, boutique fitness centers, 24-hour amenities and transit options – including the city’s new fleet of bikes and scooters. On site, office environments are featuring more coffee shops, dining areas and walking spaces, giving employees less reasons to leave the premises – cutting down drivetime and improving employee morale.

If you are looking to fashion your campus into the urban core of a city, look no further than NCR’s efficient land-use for their headquarters located at the corner of 8th and Spring Streets in Midtown. The high-tech office complex features a two-story gym, food hall-type market and sprawling terrace, complemented by modern, open office spaces and state-of-the-art amenities.

Fashioning itself as the “Silicon Valley of the East,” NCR Chairman and CEO Bill Nuti said the building celebrates “the innovators, dreamers and problem-solvers who walk through our doors every day and have the courage to build a better tomorrow.”

This kind of innovative thinking will continue to drive the development of the Atlanta area office market. Promise abounds in places like the Beltline, which has more than 90 office buildings and 16.6 million square of feet of office space within one mile of the area. Or with companies like Steady’s, the Atlanta-based technology start-up that recently locked up 20,000 square feet at 101 Marietta Street, helping raise the profile for companies looking to attract and retain local young talent.

There is much happening all over Metro Atlanta. On the Central Perimeter, State Farm continues its 2019 momentum with its Phase II implementation, totaling around 1.1 million square feet of space alongside the ongoing infrastructure improvements on the GA-400 corridor. In the Northwest quadrant, The Edison Chastain, a proposed project by TPA Group and Quintus Development, will deliver 150,000 square feet of Class A creative office space—creating a building type unlike any seen yet in the submarket.

The future for Atlanta’s commercial real estate knows no bounds. In today’s live-work-play lifestyle mindset, companies—and their employees—have more options than ever before. As we look toward Q2 and beyond, the promise is weighted with fruitful expectations.

Claire Ross is a senior leasing associate with JLL in the Agency Leasing Group in Atlanta. As such, she manages all phases of landlord representation, from creation and implementation of detailed marketing plans to lease analysis, negotiation, documentation, cold calling and cultivating relationships with brokers throughout Atlanta. She can be reached at claire.ross@am.jll.com.

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