Its never a good thing for a city when the heart of one its most affluent neighborhoods is turned into a large pit which sits fallow for several years. Ben Carter had big dreams for the Streets of Buckhead project, but those big dreams stopped at the concrete footings and construction fence that have sat untouched for almost 3 years since construction ended on the project.
Atlanta needs its high value land in use producing tax revenue and supporting economic growth and not sitting fallow sucking the life out of surrounding businesses (Farewell thee well ole ESPN Zone). Enter OliverMcMillan group. The San Diego based developer is experienced at rescuing stalled developments, and their skills are badly needed. The verdict is still out, but if they can pull off completion of the project they will surely be the White Knights of Buckhead.
OliverMcMillan's entrance to the project hasn't been without some questioning. Local business leader Ben Carter lost his project of a lifetime and OM started its work in the project by announcing a down-scaling of Carter's vast, luxury-scale project to a more measured, integrated mixed-use development. An indicative step in this new direction was the new name and branding of the project as "Buckhead Atlanta."
The new name has lead to grumblings of some neighborhood and business leaders that the name will cause confusion, but OM selected the name to emphasize that the project as redesigned will be made to integrate into the existing community rather than creating a more defined development. We think this is a wise move as it will help avoid the forced-plastic "Disneyland-esque" feeling that has plagued some master-planned developments such as Atlantic Station.
The other major aspect of change was a more measured approach to the retail mix to accommodate a range of incomes. The project will still have high-end offerings such as Hermes, an original tenant that has stayed on board. Though people glommed onto the idea of a Rodeo Drive of the South the reality is a super high-end project was likely just a little too big for Atlanta's britches. The new mix sounds to be more inline with the reality of the project's consumer market.
Construction of Buckhead Atlanta is planned to commence early in 2012, and there is a long road ahead of it before Curbed Atlanta can anoint it Atlanta's Best New Development, but in the meantime it represents the best chance for getting Atlanta back on track as a world-class destination city. For the resurrection of the Streets of Buckhead, we give Buckhead Atlanta a famed Curbed Award.*
*Award will be revoked if the following conditions are not met: (1) Buckhead Atlanta is actually completed, and (2) Curbed Atlanta is invited to the VIP Opening Party.