Major real estate interests in Atlanta, including Cousins Properties, Inc. and the Atlanta Hotel Council, said Tuesday they were blindsided by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s proposed water and energy sustainability program.
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.
Cousins Properties, Inc. is selling $224 million in common stock to raise cash mainly to close a $215 million deal on the 30-story Fifth Third Center in Charlotte’s central business district.
Also Tuesday, Cousins announced it has placed Northpark Town Center under contract for $348 million. The development, in the Sandy Springs portion of the Perimeter area, offers a total of 1.5 million square feet in three buildings.
These acquisitions represent a shift in Cousins’ investment strategy. In recent years, Cousins has favored Texas as its growth market and, locally, sold its signature Wildwood development in Cobb County in advance of its move into Buckhead and downtown Atlanta.
Cousins Properties reports that it’s leased 95 percent of the Terminus project in Buckhead, underscoring the reported rebound in metro Atlanta’s office sector.
Rebound is a relative term. Rajeev Dhawan, of Georgia State University, and other economists point to the dearth of commercial construction and bank financing to contend the market has not recovered its pre-recession level.
But there’s no denying that Atlanta was mentioned twice in a generally positive report on commercial real estate issued Tuesday by CBRE Group, Inc.
Cousins Properties, Inc. – a bellwether Atlanta-based REIT – has closed its previously announced purchases of two office projects in Texas for a total cash price of $1.1 billion.
The two purchases increase Cousins presence in one of the fastest growing regions of the country, according to urban demographer Joel Kotkin, who’s been including the Third Coast since at least 2011 in his list of the nation’s growth corridors.
The Cousins deal includes a 10-building office project in Houston, which Kotkin names as “the clear center” of a mega region that stretches along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida. Houston was the destination of this year’s LINK delegation, which was covered extensively by Maria Saporta.
Cousins Properties, Inc. raised $165.1 million in a stock sale April 12 that shows how one Atlanta-based real estate firm is waging its fight back from the recession.
Cousins intends to use the money from the stock sale to further its expansion into urban markets in Texas. Cousins also plans to redeem $74.8 million of preferred stock, according to Cousins filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Cousins, a real estate investment trust, was formed in Atlanta in 1958 and more than two-thirds of its office holdings remain in Atlanta – 5.3 million square feet of the 7.6 million square feet of office space cited in its 2012 annual SEC filing. The remainder of the office space is located in Charlotte, Dallas, and Birmingham.
In 1995, Larry Gellerstedt III had a difficult choice to make. For nine years, he had been CEO of Beers Construction, a $1 billion firm his father had led before him. The firm had successfully served two long-standing clients that were also bitter rivals by dividing Beers’ healthcare division into two teams.
Things got awkward when the Egleston board asked Larry to follow his father onto its board even though he had led construction for its biggest rival. “I went to the chairman of the board and CEO at Scottish Rite and asked if this would be OK,” Larry said. “And they said no, it would not be OK – they wanted me to be on the Scottish Rite board.’”