Fidelity Bank’s Jim Miller elected coalition chairman

Fidelity Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James B. Miller Jr. was elected chairman of the Buckhead Coalition for a two-year term at the coalition’s 20th annual meeting Jan 28. Sam Massell, the founding president, continues in that executive position.

Miller, who also is chairman and CEO of Fidelity Southern Corp., the holding company for Fidelity Bank, has been with the bank since 1976 and active in Atlanta-area community activities since the 1970s. He succeeds Post Properties CEO David P. Stockert as coalition chairman.

About 150 invited guests heard an address on Washington political life from former 12-term Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, who now serves as senior public policy adviser for the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Washington.

Massell said Johnson’s talk, which was heavily in support of President Barack Obama and his potential to improve the world for Americans and the way the world perceives and deals with America, was “stimulating,” whether those attending the luncheon at 103 West were Democrats or Republicans.

Also on the program were City Council President Lisa Borders, who brought greetings from the city of Atlanta, and Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves. All members of the Atlanta City Council attended the annual meeting. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was out of town on business.

Other officers elected were Rayna J. Casey and Thomas M. Lowe III as vice presidents, Vivian N. DuBose as secretary, and Marvin Cosgray as treasurer. Members added to the executive committee were Stanley W. Benecki, John C. Hamilton, David H. King, John W. Lundeen III, Jacques P. Murphy and Geoffrey N. Nolan.

Those who will continue serving on the executive committee are David B. Allman, G. Niles Bolton, James R. Borders, Frank B. Bradshaw III, James C. Edenfield, Samuel G. Friedman, William H. Harrison Jr., Jerry M. Hux, Richard H. Lee, Robert E. Peterson, Earl L. Shell Jr., Alana S. Shepherd and Eric J. Tanenblatt, along with founders James M. Caswell Jr., Julian LeCraw Sr., R. Charles Loudermilk Sr., Arthur B.L. Martin, Mark C. Pope III and George W. Rohrig Jr.

In brief remarks, Miller, Stockert and Massell expressed a positive outlook for the Buckhead community, acknowledging the depressed economy but pointing out that historically luxury markets like Buckhead recover quickest when business turns around.

Cellar 56 opens on East Andrews Drive

Chef Paul Agnelli opened Cellar 56 restaurant Jan. 22 at 56 E. Andrews Drive in Andrews Square. Agnelli is the former executive chef of the Capital Grill and Van Gogh’s.

The menu is broken into food categories including Land, Sea, Garden and Sweets, with each item priced $3 to $5.

Cellar 56 offers 56 wine choices, with 30 of the selections from boutique wineries.

Cellar 56 is open for dinner Monday to Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.

Taurus restaurant closes in Brookwood

Critically acclaimed South Buckhead restaurant Taurus, run by former Canoe chef Gary Mennie, closed after the New Year’s Eve dinner, reportedly a victim of the poor economy.

Mennie made his name at Canoe, at the Chattahoochee River on Paces Ferry Road, where he helmed the kitchen for 10 years. He opened Taurus in late 2005 in the Brookwood Station retail center with a menu that featured steaks and chops but extended beyond the typical steakhouse.

Ben Carter renegotiating Streets of Buckhead costs

Ben Carter apparently is using the construction slowdown and six-month delay in the opening of The Streets of Buckhead to renegotiate contracts and potentially save millions of dollars on labor and materials.

Carter reportedly is sitting down with general contractor Balfour Beatty Construction and subcontractors to determine where the market is today vs. where it was in 2007 when the project was priced. Balfour Beatty is reportedly meeting with six or seven subcontractors to negotiate lower costs.

The 2007 prices are not in line with what 2010 rents will be, according to those close to the major development. Because materials are cheaper now, there is a national trend toward renegotiating contracts.

The announcement last fall that the opening of the $1.5 billion Streets of Buckhead would be delayed from the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2010 has given Ben Carter Properties time to try to adjust prices.

CB Richard Ellis Investors, an equity partner in the project, is supportive of Carter’s efforts to renegotiate the prices.

BBA moves to Atlanta Financial Center

The Buckhead Business Association (BBA) has moved into new offices on the lobby floor of the East Tower of the Atlanta Financial Center, 3343 Peachtree Road NE, the building in which the organization now holds its weekly breakfast meetings at the Buckhead City Club.

The BBA moved the weekend of Jan. 31 into 900 square feet in Suite 137.

Two former BBA presidents, Geoff Friedman and Doug Eidson, worked with the Atlanta Financial Center to secure the space. A BBA committee was working on relocating the offices from the BBA’s former space in the Atlanta police Zone 2 miniprecinct on Peachtree Road at East Paces Ferry Road, next to the construction of the Streets of Buckhead.

“We cannot thank Atlanta Financial Center enough for working with us on this space,” Friedman said.

Starting last month, the BBA now holds its weekly Thursday morning breakfast meetings at the City Club on the 18th floor of the Atlanta Financial Center.

CVS pharmacy to take EatZi’s old space

CVS Pharmacy is taking the space at Buckhead Pavilion on Peachtree Road that was occupied by EatZi’s and is expected to open this spring, according to Coro Realty Advisors, which owns the shopping center.

EatZi’s exited the Atlanta market in November 2006, and the space has been vacant since then.

CVS will take 16,512 square feet in Buckhead Pavilion, which is on the south side of Peachtree Road between Maple Drive and Shadow Lawn Avenue.

CVS has nine other drugstore projects in development for 2009 and 2010 in the Atlanta market.