(A more or less regular compilation of news, factoids and observations.)
By Harold V. Shumacher
Over the past few weeks we’ve spent time with over 2,000 of the Southeast’s leading real estate developers, landlords, brokers and agents at separate ICSC (International council of Center) events in Atlanta and Charlotte. What have we learned? Compared to three years ago, when the conversations centered on foreclosures, the lack of funding, the drying up of the market for tenants, rental abatements, rental discounts and whether then currently employed professionals could hold on to their jobs, there has been a dramatic turn-around. Today people are finally talking about real deals (with financeable anchors, zoned locations, entitlements in place etc.) but the majority of these are in 2013 or 2014 at the earliest.
Select retailers are active. Family Dollar, for example, has plans to open 600 stores this year, one third of the proposed locations in the Southeast. There will be similar growth for Dollar General. Banks continue expanding, and we anticipate more activity in the coming months from PNC (formerly RBC) and Chase. Quick Service and fast casual restaurants continue to expand led by bell cows such as Chick Fil A, McDonald’s and Chipotle. We’re seeing increased activity from clients we’re working with in this segment such as Wing Stop and Dunkin Donuts. Of course, the inevitable cry of not enough retailers was heard but when have you ever been to an ICSC event where people complained there were too many retailers.
A panel on retail trends made some interesting points. Retailers that have embraced social media and utilize web based deals to drive customers into their sticks and bricks locations are finding successful results. Wal-Mart has determined that a customer attracted to the store by an on-line promotion will spend an additional $50 on a visit. Smart retailers are beginning to treat their web sites as a flagship store rather than seeing the web as competition.
The hard data is still being collected but experts at the recent Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit held in Chicago reported an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the food produced in the world goes uneaten. The average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month — about $40 worth — according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which plans to publish a report on food waste in April. In a year, that means each person throws away almost 400 pounds of food, (the weight of an adult male gorilla.) But the impact of food waste stretches far beyond the kitchen. Agriculture is the world’s largest user of water, a big consumer of energy and chemicals and major emitter of greenhouse gases during production, distribution and landfill decay. Experts say reducing waste is a simple way to cut stress on the environment while easing pressure on farmers, who will be called on to feed an expected 9 billion people around the world in 2050, versus nearly 7 billion today
Fact of the Day….Agriculture remains Georgia’s number one industry. If Georgia were a country, it would be the 27th largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product of $403 billion and a population of 9.8 million people.
Are you ready for SPLOST? If not, you’ll soon learn more than you’d want to know. An acronym for a special purpose local option sales tax, metro Atlanta residents are slated to vote on July 31, 2012 for funding to be utilized for a ten- county transportation improvement plan. Described by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as a generational decision, the ambitious plan is designed to speed up and improve traffic flow, provide funding for the Atlanta beltline, support for MARTA, better cross county connectivity and bike and walking paths.
For the real estate industry this is a critical election as it may well determine Atlanta’s direction for the next 10-20 years. For those not familiar with Atlanta history, this is a time very akin to the early 1960’s when then Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen pushed for the Atlanta airport to be expanded to accommodate a then young airline not far from its roots in crop dusting. Fifty years later Atlanta claims the busiest airport in the world anchored by Delta. If Atlanta fails to pass this plan it’s entirely possible that the growth that has characterized Atlanta’s history the past 50 years could even be further slowed, the double victim of the great recession and a failure of leadership and will.
A couple of noted Atlanta chefs will be opening new concepts this year. Kevin Rathbun is expanding beyond his Inman Park neighborhood to open KR Steak Bar in Peachtree Hills. Meanwhile at Ansley Mall Shaun Doty, the founder of Yeah Burger, is slated to open a chicken centric restaurant by year’s end.
Recent transactions from The Shumacher Group Inc. include:
Sale of 2871 Stonecrest Circle (former Flambeaux’s) to TGI Friday’s
Lease Renewal Continental Styles, Peachtree Center
Verizon N. Augusta
Sale of Pizza Vito Alpharetta to Romeo’s NY Pizza
Sale of Two Dads Pizza Canton to Romeo’s Pizza
Lease at 360 Pharr Road, Atlanta ( Buckhead ) to Olde Towne Tavern