This a great article explaining why Midtown is such a draw for law firms and design-based companies. Between the restaurants and the nightlife, Midtown has so much to offer.
Quality of life, available space, transportation access, energy and good vibes combine to make Midtown an attractive location for office-based businesses to take root and grow.
That and Midtown’s trend-setting embrace of newer workspace, work/life concepts that have lured businesses both traditional and futuristically creative.
According to data compiled by the Midtown Alliance on transactions 20,000 square feet and larger, there have been 34 leases, totaling nearly 2.2 million square feet, announced in Midtown office buildings during the past 24 months. Close to 820,000 square feet of these were new leases, with renewals, extensions, expansions, and combinations thereof accounting for the approximately 1.3 million remaining.
Size-wise, major new deals announced in 2011 have been led by a 150,000-square-foot lease by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in the 725,000-square-foot office component 1075 Peachtree, aka the second phase of 12th and Midtown. Meanwhile, SunTrust Banks Inc. announced that it would take 95,000 square feet in Campanile Plaza as part of its realignment of office space usage in Atlanta. Another bank deal came in third, with news of Regions Bank’s 80,000-square-foot move to One Atlantic Center.
And all that stuff you’ve been hearing about Midtown being a magnet for law firms is true.
A little more than 1 million square feet of the leases (and 14 of the 34 total deals) tracked by the Midtown Alliance over the past couple of years were announced by law firms. Half of these deals were renewals, expansions, and/ or extensions, including Alston & Bird LLP’s renewal/expansion to around 340,000 square feet at One Atlantic Center, and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP’s 206,140-square-foot renewal at 1100 Peachtree.
Law firms or otherwise, businesses like to locate — and keep — their offices in Midtown, according to Shannon Powell, Midtown Alliance chief operating officer and executive vice president.
“They like Midtown and what this community has to offer,” Powell said. “With a Midtown location, they get to be in a 24/7 urban environment that is very walkable, very pedestrian- oriented, with the kind of vibe that is attractive to recruiting and retaining a creative, talented, upwardly mobile workforce.”
When the Fisher & Phillips LLP law firm was mulling a move from Buckhead, Midtown was the consensus choice of all attorneys and staff members, according to Roger Quillen, a partner in the firm, which recently celebrated the anniversary of the 50,000-square-foot move of its Atlanta office to 1075 Peachtree.
“The feeling was that Midtown is really the heart of all the best things in Atlanta,” Quillen said. “With the pedestrian-friendly environment, arts scene, the theater district, the best restaurants, and Atlantic Station nearby, everybody felt that Midtown is where the energy is.”
Location plays a large role when it comes to recruiting and retaining top legal talent, according to Quillen.
“And since we moved to Midtown, there has been an increased sense of enthusiasm and excitement in the firm, particularly among our young lawyers,” he said. “We’ve been here for a year, and we still can’t get the smiles off our faces.”
Midtown is not just for lawyers, of course.
“When people in the creative, digital and social spaces move to Atlanta, they invariably end up in Midtown because it offers a combination of culture, business and diversity that communicates all there is to love about Atlanta,” said Mike Grindell, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of 22squared Inc., a longtime (22 years) Midtown-based business that recently renewed its lease at The Proscenium.
“Our clients and work demand people who are cool, creative and wickedly smart, and who have real lives, real interests and a fierce commitment to each other,” Grindell said. “The activity in Midtown — pedestrians, runners, diversity of people and activities, interesting places to dine out and have fun — infuses the area with an energy that serves as an inspiration for our people,” he said. “Our location lets creative talent know we value energy, creativity, sustainability and people.”
Midtown can also make sense from a real estate-occupancy perspective. For example, as part of continuing efforts to optimize usage of its real estate portfolio, telecom giant AT&T Inc. will be relocating approximately 1,200 employees from Alpharetta to Midtown this year, according to Emily J. Edmonds, director of AT&T’s strategic communications. They will all be going to the iconic AT&T Tower, the 1.8 million-square-foot building at 675 West Peachtree St.
An investment perspective
Midtown’s numerous qualities also make it an attractive venue for real estate investment, notes Larry Gellerstedt, president and CEO of Cousins Properties Inc.
The Atlanta-based REIT recently purchased the 38-story, 774,000-square-foot Midtown office tower Promenade II for $134.7 million. It also owns the 260,000-square-foot 10 Peachtree Place office building, where AGL Resources Inc. renewed its lease for the entire building earlier this year.
“We are a big believer in the Midtown market,” said Gellerstedt, a Midtown resident who is also chairman of the board of the Midtown Alliance.
“Midtown has great accessibility via the interstate highway and MARTA,” he said, “as well as quality-of-life assets, like Woodruff Arts Center and Piedmont Park, that give it great character.”
As the hub of Atlanta’s legal industry, and with its expanding residential base and steadily growing number of office employees, Midtown has a lot of things going for it, said Gellerstedt. And with the Promenade deal, “We’ve got a great tower in a great location in a great submarket that will attract some great tenants in the future.”