Business

A Decade in the Making, Buckhead Atlanta Opens

Dene Oliver, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and former Atlanta mayor and current president of Buckhead Coalition, Inc., Sam Massell, pose for cameras before installing a commemorative brick at Buckhead Atlanta.
Dene Oliver, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and former Atlanta mayor and current president of Buckhead Coalition, Inc., Sam Massell, pose for cameras before installing a commemorative brick at Buckhead Atlanta.
Credit Katie King / katiekingphotography.com

Buckhead Atlanta, a luxury development project started nearly a decade ago as “Streets of Buckhead,” finally opened Thursday.An audio version of this story

As the elite and wealthy gathered for the celebration, a quartet played the Stevie Wonder song, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” It seemed fitting for a project some thought would never happen.

“Today, Buckhead Atlanta goes from being the developer’s project to being the community’s destination,” said Hunter Richardson, an executive with project developer OliverMcMillan.

While 36 restaurants and luxury retailers will call Buckhead Atlanta, “home,” Thursday’s big debut saw just five shops open. The rest will trickle in over the next few weeks to months, said developer Dene Oliver. And that’s intentional.

“It’s not a shopping mall,” said Oliver. “It’s the evolution of a street scene.”

Oliver praised Mayor Kasim Reed for his assistance.  In return, Reed praised OliverMcMillan, saying the  Buckhead Atlanta project helped the city rebound.

“We are back,” Reed told the crowd. “In the year 2010, we had about $400-million in construction permits. In the year 2013, we had $2.1-billion in new construction permits.”

In order for the project to succeed, it must attract enough people willing to pay $1,600 for a Hermes sweater, or $1,200 for a pair of Jimmy Choo suede boots. Georgia State marketing professor Chris Lemley thinks Buckhead Atlanta will have no problem.

“Number one, they’ve picked the right spot,” Lemley said, adding that wealthy out-of-towners will be a likely draw due to the project’s proximity to high-end hotels.

“It’s a good market, and it’s nice to see the hole in the ground filled with something and coming back alive,” he said.

Those who want to do more than shop can live at Buckhead Atlanta. But the adjacent apartments command some of the highest rents in the city. A one bedroom apartment starts at about $2,600 a month.  Three bedrooms costs  more than $5,500 a month.

[You can see more photos from the Buckhead Atlanta opening event on the WABE Flickr page.]