With a new name and a new vision, the long-dormant Streets of Buckhead development appears to be coming back to life.
At an industry conference in Las Vegas, OliverMcMillan, which recently purchased the development, announced it will now be called “Buckhead Atlanta.”
Jeremy Meredith, development director for San Diego-based firm OliverMcMillan, said the company is reviewing the plans for the site. The company intends to begin construction by the end of the year.
“Right now we’re evaluating all parts of the design,” Meredith said. “We’re looking at every facet of the project to see if it suits Buckhead.”
OliverMcMillan plans to build 300,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of office space and 370 apartments.
The firm does not intend to build hotels, as originally planned by former Streets of Buckhead developer Ben Carter.
Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition, said he is pleased with the direction OliverMcMillan is taking the development.
“I think what they are planning frankly, is more realistic than what Ben Carter had wanted to do. His had a great deal more sex appeal perhaps, but if you can’t do it, it’s not very exciting. It was an uphill battle to achieve what he had, even if the economy had not tanked,” Massell said.
Carter’s vision was to fill the storefronts with high-end designer boutiques to create a shopping district like Los Angeles’ iconic Rodeo Drive.
“We’re looking at a different mix of retailers. We’re looking at showcasing local restaurateurs and having local and national retailers in that mix,” Meredith said. “It’ll be a mixture of both national and local retailers, but hopefully bring in a local wine shop and a local cheese store, that sort of thing.”
Massell said he would like to see OliverMcMillan set aside space for local retailers to help preserve the character of Buckhead.
“Having local businesses or standard retailers of moderate pricing is of greater need to the community than the high- end and exclusive boutiques. Although we want those because they are a draw from the region,” Massell said.
Meredith said OliverMcMillan is continuing leasing efforts and hopes to start construction by the end of the year.
Construction will take place at one time, rather than being separated into phases as initially planned by the former developer. Meredith said Buckhead Atlanta is expected to be open by spring of 2013.
“There’s been almost $400 million spent to date and we’re looking to spend another $300 million to complete it,” Meredith said. “We’re excited to be part of the project. The original director had a great vision, and with tough economic times wasn’t able to complete it. We’re glad to bring new financing to the table and get it opened.”
Though based out of San Diego, Meredith is an Atlanta native who will be spending much of his time in Buckhead over the coming year as the development progresses.
“I actually grew up in the area so it’s personally meaningful to me to come back and develop something in my own backyard,” Meredith said. “So much of my career has been focused on large scale developments. It’s exciting to work on a project of this magnitude in my hometown.”
Massell believes the upcoming construction on the development is a sign that the economy is improving.
“Nothing like this has happened — not just in Buckhead, but in Atlanta — for the last three to four years,” Massell said. “We’ll see improvement in the surrounding environs. It’s exciting to me.”