By Lisa M. Rhudy, Vice President – Asset Management, Pattillo Industrial Real Estate
Have you recently driven by a part of town you pass from time to time, but not on a regular basis, to realize that the entire area looks different? You stop and ask yourself, “Where did that come from? It wasn’t there last time I drove through here.” In fact, you even question if you’ve taken a wrong turn because you can’t quite place where you are. You’re shocked to see retail shops, restaurants, offices, condos, and apartments bustling with activity in what you remember being an older area of town that seemed sleepy and quiet with high vacancy and sometimes a “sketchy” feel.
Working for an industrial developer/manager of industrial real estate for more than two decades, I’ve seen the trends of industrial real estate grow and push development out further and further from the city centers. The sheer size of the industrial buildings built today requires large tracts of land to accommodate several hundred thousand square feet of ground floor space, plus adequate trucking, driveways, parking, water detention, and security. Those types of facilities can’t simply be plopped down in a busy city due to land constraints and roadway access, among other issues. Therefore, industrial development is pushed further out, creating growth and economic development in what were once rural areas.
So what becomes of the once prime industrial facility in the city? Quite often we are left with older buildings that are smaller in scale (in terms of height and area) with truck courts that aren’t quite large enough for the huge semis that are now mostly used. Many of these buildings sit vacant begging for a new occupant, while others are re-purposed for service companies and small manufacturers, while still others are torn down and a new high rise office building, apartment complex or the like is built in its place.
In Atlanta’s robust real estate market, however, non-descript industrial areas of town are continuing to be targeted for redevelopment. With an edgy desire for loft space with a rustic feel, innovative developers are changing the face of what used to be a “run-down and antiquated” building for industrial warehousing clients, into hot, new trendy shops, restaurants, banquet halls, office lofts, medical facilities, and even schools. Utilizing unfinished ceilings with exposed beams and columns, easy to clean concrete floors stained for some flair, and small truck courts converted into parking seems to be a trend that continues to take hold in the ATL. It’s cool, it’s edgy, it’s re-using resources, and it’s less expensive than new development.
Atlanta is full of creative and visionary architects, engineers, and real estate professionals that are finding a real niche market in this exciting city. The conversion process can sometimes be long and arduous, especially when environmental and geotechnical issues come into play, but the end results are often quite successful. One of the first projects that comes to my mind of this magnitude in Atlanta is Atlantic Station – the redevelopment of the Atlantic Steel manufacturing site once riddled with environmental concerns. It originally sounded far-fetched, but a true transformation of that entire area has occurred. It has drawn in surrounding areas such as the Chattahoochee district and Marietta Street, helping to form what is now known as the trendy West Midtown.
Another explosive area is the is the Peachtree Industrial and Peachtree Road corridors running from Buckhead up to the former GM site at I-285. Chamblee and the surrounding areas were once earmarked for industrial uses due to the proximity to the city, the transportation routes in and out of this area, the rail lines, and the abundance of land. But over time, as those buildings were outgrown and industrial development pushed outside the perimeter, the area sat rather dormant for many years with minimal economic activity. Today growth is quickly spreading from Buckhead north thru Brookhaven and up to Chamblee. Several buildings have been repurposed and transformed with the trendy attributes previously described, while yet others have been leveled and redesigned into new modern buildings.
Regardless of the type of redevelopment, it’s exciting for our city as a whole. We are transforming the once thriving industrial areas turned blighted into modern destination spots that are attracting people of all ages. The communities benefit greatly while our city’s story continues to evolve.
Lisa Rhudy is Vice President – Asset Management with Pattillo Industrial Real Estate and is responsible for the economic performance of Pattillo’s existing and expanding portfolio. Leading a team of Asset Management professionals, Lisa is responsible for marketing and listing agreements, lease negotiations, financial performance and ultimate dispositions of buildings. She is also responsible for managing the in-house property management team.
In 2011, Lisa established a new Property Management division of the company including building a team with responsibility for the occupancy experience of over 300 tenants in over 200 buildings in the Southeast U.S.
Lisa is a graduate of Leadership CREW, Leadership DeKalb, and is currently involved with CREW Atlanta, BOMA, and the Stone Mountain Community Improvement District.
Lisa proudly resides in Smyrna, GA with her husband and two school age children. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, volunteering for children’s activities at her church and children’s school, socializing with her long standing book club, and traveling domestically and internationally.
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