By David Pendered
The corporate headquarters that Cousins Properties is developing for Genuine Parts Co. in Cobb County exemplifies the optimism within the commercial industry that’s cited in the Atlanta Fed’s latest “beige book.”
The 150,000 square foot building is a boon to the region’s construction-related industries. Cousins has developed the concept and site solutions. HKS Architects and Hendrick Interior Design is handling the design.
HKS was the architect of record on the LEED Gold Certified Terminus 200 mixed use building that Cousins and JP Morgan developed in Buckhead. In a building closer in size to Genuine Parts’ new headquarters, HKS designed a 125,000 square foot corporate office for Lear Corp.
Genuine Parks new headquarters will be developed adjacent to the company’s Operational Support Facility, located in the Wildwood Office Park two miles from Genuine Parts existing headquarters in Circle 75. Cousins and IBM developed Wildwood in a joint partnership, according to Cousins’ website.
Genuine Parts’ new corporate headquarters is notable because it is an office building at a time apartment construction comprises most development in the commercial sector.
As the beige book noted: “Commercial real estate contacts reported increased activity, particularly in apartment construction.”
In a break-out section further in the report, the Atlanta Fed provided a more tempered analysis of the commercial construction sector, which has been such a significant component of metro Atlanta’s prosperity:
- “District commercial real estate brokers continued to report improving demand, though they cautioned that the rate of improvement varied by metropolitan area, submarket, and property type.
- “Commercial contractors noted continued strength in apartment construction and indicated that the level of nonresidential construction activity continued to increase modestly.
- “The outlook among District commercial real estate contacts remained fairly optimistic.”
The Federal Reserve included these observations in the update released Wednesday of regional economic conditions, which inform a national report. The Atlanta Fed covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The big picture of the southeast is generally positive, according to the report:
- Retail sales were up slightly from the October report, with auto sales being particularly strong;
- The tourism industry is optimistic, reporting strong advance bookings for the first two quarters of 2015;
- Home sales are flat or down since October, with some contacts saying sales fell short of their October plans. Inventory is flat, prices are increasing modestly, and sales over the next three months are generally expected to remain flat or decline.
- Manufacturers are cautious, saying they increased activity in October, but more than 75 percent predict no increase in production levels over the next six months;
- The transportation sector was optimistic and reported a shortage of drivers to handle a surge in demand related largely to e-commerce;
- Banking remains extremely competitive for qualified borrowers, while small businesses continue to face restricted access to cash and credit;
- Job growth is up across the region, with shortages reported in construction and skilled trade jobs, drivers, low-skill workers, and IT positions. Nonetheless, there were only “nascent signs” of pressures to raise wages: “There was little evidence of broad-based acceleration in wages outside of trucking, construction, banking, and information technology.”
- Peanut harvests were ahead of five-year averages in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
- Cotton harvests were above five-year averages in Alabama and Georgia.