Loudermilk sells stock to pay real estate debt

Charlie Loudermilk, founder and chairman of Buckhead-based Aaron’s Inc., recently sold off nearly 1 million common shares of Aaron’s stock for about $28.5 million to pay off debt on local real estate ventures, including the historic Roxy Theater and adjacent parking lot property on Roswell Road in the heart of Buckhead.

The sale reduced Loudermilk’s ownership of Aaron’s Class A voting stock by 6 percent, but he still controls 57 percent of that stock with 4.7 million shares. He also owns 249,000 shares of nonvoting common stock.

The cash is being used exclusively to repay two-thirds of the outstanding loans on apartment complexes, parking lots and other real estate ventures he owns throughout Atlanta.

Those ventures include the Roxy, which he and son Robin Loudermilk, Aaron’s CEO, reacquired from Novare Group Holdings in March 2008 for $8 million. Loudermilk will use $3 million to complete the renovation of the theater and $8 million to $9 million to repay the debt for that site and the adjacent parking lot.

Initially, Loudermilk planned to build a 15-to-18-story, 270-room hotel on the parking lot. But he dropped those plans as the economy soured and work on nearby developments slowed.

Restaurant to open at Lenox

After months of the prime restaurant spot at the entrance to Lenox Square being dark, Simon Property Group has announced that Lenox Square Grill will open this fall in the spot formerly occupied by The Clubhouse.

Lenox Square Grill, a new concept from CentraArchy, the Atlanta company that owns Tavern at Phipps, New York Prime, Joey D’s and California Dreaming, will open as a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

The menu will offer traditional comfort foods in a decor that will feature dark wood accents and floors.

The restaurant’s atmosphere will suit families while appealing to business diners.

Lenox Square Grill will accommodate more than 300 guests and include outdoor seating and several private dining rooms.

Cousins chairman retiring

Tom Bell, the chairman and CEO of Cousins Properties, will retire July 1 and will be replaced as CEO by the president and chief operating officer, Larry L. Gellerstedt III.

Gellerstedt will remain president of the real estate investment trust.

Bell, who turns 60 this year, became Cousins CEO in January 2002 and chairman in December 2006. Under his watch, the company sold nearly $3 billion in assets at the market’s peak for special dividends totaling $12.62 a share.

Bell remains deeply involved in Atlanta’s civic life. With former Georgia Pacific CEO A.D. “Pete” Correll, he has been instrumental in the effort to save Grady Memorial Hospital.

Gellerstedt, 53, came to Cousins when it bought his firm, The Gellerstedt Group, in June 2005.

He served as chairman and chief executive officer of Beers Construction from 1986 to 1998. In 1998, after the sale of Beers to Skanska USA, he was elected chairman and CEO of American Business Products. In 2000, Gellerstedt became president and chief operating officer of The Integral Group, an urban mixed-use development company. He founded The Gellerstedt Group in 2003.

Coalition seeks removal of boxes

The Buckhead Coalition has compiled a report listing one to six ordinance violations in a formal request to City Hall for the removal of numerous publication boxes off the Peachtree Road bridge over Ga. 400 in Buckhead.

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said, “They are an eyesore and not in keeping with the new beauty of the community’s Peachtree Boulevard Project,” the second stage of which will start soon, extending from the point in contention to Roxboro Road. The site has a total of 24 boxes on the northbound and southbound sides of the street.

Violations include being over a public street, not having the required owner identification, being too close to a bus stop, exceeding the group maximum length, being in damaged condition and appearing to be abandoned, Massell said.

“We are actually pleased to have availability of various periodicals in freestanding news boxes,” Massell said. “But when on public property, they should be in good state of repair and meet all governmental regulations.”

Most such boxes in Buckhead are on private property.

City has free interns

Companies can sponsor interns free this summer through the Mayor’s Youth Program.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin are calling on metro Atlanta companies to provide summer internships through July 24 for new graduates of Atlanta Public Schools.

“This internship program is designed to give students the opportunity to develop business skills and apply their knowledge in a real-world environment as they work to achieve their dreams, and this year the city has a grant to pay their salaries,” Franklin said.

In its fourth year, the Mayor’s Youth Program is organized by Franklin and the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency.

Go to www.mayorsyouthprogram.org to get more information or to register for the program.