By Maria Saporta
The Metro Atlanta Chamber will be moving from its own multi-story building on Centennial Olympic Park to the 34th floor of the 191 Peachtree Tower by the end of the year.
In March, the Chamber sold its building to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which intends to demolish the building and turn it into additional green space as part of its plan to improve the 20-year-old park.
The Chamber selected the 191 Tower from four downtown buildings that offered Class A office space. The Chamber will move more than 75 employees to 25,000 square-feet on the 34th floor.
“It is a little bit bittersweet,” Metro Atlanta Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog said about the move. The business organization will no longer have its own building with a visible presence downtown. Instead, it will be moving into a high-rise buildings where several of Atlanta’s top companies and nonprofits are based.
The building is owned by Cousins Properties, and its CEO is Larry Gellerstedt, who was the 2015 Chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
“Larry absolutely recused himself from the process, and he has maintained that stance through the entire process,” said Moddelmog, adding that the idea of GWCCA buying the Chamber building predated her two-and-a-half years with the organization. “I’ve had three different chairs through this process.”
Once the Chamber moves to the 191 Peachtree Tower, it will be 92 percent leased.
Although Moddelmog said she would miss the roof-top terrace on top the existing Chamber building that overlooks the park, she said the new space will offer a host of amenities, including the ability to tell Atlanta’s story through interactive technology in meeting rooms and in the pre-function area.
“We definitely will have a board room, and it will be very similar in size to what we have now,” she said. “Beyond the rooftop, I just don’t feel like we are giving up much of our entertainment capabilities.”
The Metro Atlanta Chamber has an average of about 500 visitors a week, and the organization wanted to make sure it would be able to open its doors to people interested in the Atlanta region.
Another attractive feature of the building is that it is located next to Peachtree Center MARTA Station – giving visitors, board members and Chamber staff more transportation options.
Once inside the building, Moddelmog said the Chamber floor will have several spaces for welcoming guests. She also said another amenity was being in the same tower as the Commerce Club, which is on the 49th floor of the 191 Tower.
“We wanted to make sure we had the ability to continue to entertain and that we could make the space available for others to use,” Moddelmog said.
Once the decision was made to sell the existing Chamber building and move, Moddelmog said the excitement of finding and planning a new space began to take over.
The new space will be designed to be more collaborative – steering away from having traditional offices. The one-level space will incorporate design elements reflective of Atlanta’s founding as well as its modern-day status as a hub for transportation and making connections. The space also will reflect the Chamber’s role as a connector of organizations and people.
JLL, leading global real estate service provider, was engaged at the outset to analyze all potential properties and guide the Chamber in its relocation process before ultimately deciding on 191 Peachtree Tower.
In addition, Cushman Wakefield will be the project manager for the relocation, and Heery has been selected as the interior design firm.
Jenner Wood, the 2016 chairman of the Chamber who is also a corporate executive vice president of SunTrust Bank, said one of the big advantages of the 191 building is the other tenants in the tower.
“Many of MAC’s members and some of metro Atlanta’s most iconic companies will be our new neighbors in 191 Peachtree Tower, which provides additional synergy for the many projects and programs we orchestrate together for the good of the region,” Wood said.
Among the other tenants in the building include Cousins, Deloitte, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Coxe, Curry & Associates, Operation HOPE, the Integral Group, Cooper Carry Architects, Mother Nature Network, the Georgia Research Alliance and the Grady Health Foundation.
The Metro Atlanta Chamber decided to build its own headquarters in 1985, moving into a newly-constructed building in 1987 in an area surrounded by parking lots and vacant buildings. As plans came together to create Centennial Olympic Park before the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the Chamber ended up expanding its building and creating a rooftop overlooking the park.