By Maria Saporta and Doug Sams
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on October 4, 2013
A year after first showing interest, developer Egbert Perry is the frontrunner to acquire the former General Motors Co. plant in Doraville, Ga.
Perry, CEO of the Atlanta-based real estate company The Integral Group LLC, has worked out an agreement with General Motors that allows an “extended due diligence period” on the 167-acre site. If the Integral-led development group can “get comfortable” with the challenges, “we are likely to be the buyer and developer,” Perry said.
“We want to have all the potential questions answered — the uses of the site, the environmental questions and the logistics,” he said.
Integral and GM have an agreement allowing the developer the necessary time to complete due diligence.
Perry will have to line up a capital partner. GM is asking about $60 million for the plant. But, capital partners need confidence they can deal with the environmental challenges a heavy industrial site presents.
The due diligence period would reveal “unknowns” the group might encounter from soil contamination and remediation costs. The due diligence period will also consider the plant’s connectivity to existing transportation options. It sits at the convergence of three major transportation corridors — I-285, Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
The site is adjacent to MARTA’s Doraville station. Perry will set up meetings with state and local agencies, he said, though he didn’t identify which ones. The state Department of Transportation and MARTA are possibilities, sources said.
In August 2012, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Perry was leading a team that could acquire and redevelop the plant. At the time, he was among several developers who considered the project since GM put the plant on the market five years ago.
Others included Houston-based Hines and Orlando, Fla.-based New Broad Street Cos. Perry’s group, however, was the most well-connected locally.
In addition to leading The Integral Group, a developer of urban mixed-use projects, Perry is chairman of downtown business organization Central Atlanta Progress. He also served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Since it was shut down several years ago, the GM site has been talked about as the “next” Atlantic Station, referring to the mixed-use development that rose in Midtown Atlanta from the site of the former Atlantic Steel Mill.
The plant also drew speculation as a possible site for a new Falcons stadium before the team focused downtown.
“We know the plant is viable as a mega corporate site that is large enough to accommodate a big workforce,” said Gregg Metcalf, a vice president with the commercial real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
The South is emerging as a target again for huge corporate consolidations, such as MetLife Inc.’s decision to move operations from the Northeast to Charlotte and Cary, N.C.
“I think it’s the natural progression of the city and the Peachtree corridor northward,” Tennery said.
The difference this time, versus a generation ago, is urbanization and the emphasis corporations place on putting their employees close to MARTA and amenities.
For one example, look no further than State Farm Insurance, which is likely developing a giant employment hub in Atlanta near MARTA and Perimeter Mall.