By Sam Massell

Sam Massell, Buckhead Coalition

I’m proud to share my thoughts of the direction I see our community taking today and tomorrow. To do so, I first went back and reviewed my remarks to you on this subject I made last year. It turns out I could be very comfortable repeating the same address.

I predicted last year and the year before that and the one previous to it that the recession in which our country found itself was turning and Buckhead would be in the forefront of recovery. And now, we are seeing it happen and we can rejoice in unison.

I can’t claim to be an economist – and it’s just as well, as the experts among them disagree with each other time and time – but I can read the pulse of the public through the press. I have clipped for you headlines from just one publication, the AJC, just since Jan. 1, some 72 strong. Can anyone read those and not admit the economy is turning around? And it doesn’t make any difference to me why or because of whom, but the fact it is happening is a fact we can’t dispute and Buckhead is right out in front!

You would be hard pressed to find one – that’s right, one – favorable headline that ran during the past three years, so it tells us something, doesn’t it?

There’s a billboard on Peachtree at Bennett announcing a new office building; one of Buckhead’s largest law firms has just hired three new lawyers; our city will soon start construction on a new high school; luxury apartments are planned for West Paces [Road] next to the St. Regis and another five-story one on Peachtree at Pharr {roads]; the Sovereign Building is sold for $167.3 million; Jenny Pruitt’s Atlanta Fine Homes/Sotheby’s sells $17,576,900 in homes in one week and a major developer from the west coast has announced it is taking over the stalled “Streets of Buckhead” mixed-use project!

This is announcing loud and clear: the recession is over, ladies and gentlemen, so now’s the time to get on board for another forward march of this community.

Not only were there not positive headlines over the past three years, but the Buckhead Coalition even purchased around $500,000 of advertising space in the Wall Street Journal to tell the world that we did, in fact, have an excess of vacant space. It was only one time of dozens of times that you read in various media that Buckhead had four new office buildings of approximately 500,000 square feet of floor space each – 2 million vacant feet – and you read this over and over!

Well, you don’t read it anymore because of each of those buildings has started leasing its space and they are now at 18 percent, 25 percent, 68 percent and 85 percent leased! That’s overall 50 percent off the market!

Yes, Buckhead is doing just fine and will continue to do so. Our population is increasing at a faster rate than Atlanta’s other submarkets and rental and purchase rates are going up. It has been a buyer’s market, but it’s now time to act if you want to be part of this success story.

We publish the Buckhead Guidebook, now in its seventeenth year, to help market our community and it just came out three weeks ago. In addition, we have now activated a mobile texting program to sell Buckhead’s amenities. … You can operate it by taking out your cell phone and texting: Buckhead to 99699.

Buckhead is still very much Georgia’s “address of choice” and the time to come on board is now. As I constantly tell you, “buy a bit of Buckhead and take care of it now and it will take care of you later.” Mark my words.

Sam Massell, a former mayor of Atlanta, is president of the Buckhead Coalition. This column was taken from his Feb. 24 “State of Buckhead” address to the Buckhead Business Association.