Public-private partnerships are the key to building a successful community, the president of the Buckhead Coalition said in his annual “State of Buckhead” address Feb. 20.

Sam Massel was speaking to a group of more than 100 at a Buckhead Business Association breakfast at the City Club of Buckhead. He said his main message was going to be branding of the area, ensuring “Buckhead [is] the address of choice.”

In 2010, the U.S. Census showed a population increase in Atlanta of 3,000, but in Buckhead an increase of 12,000. “That’s where the action is because it’s the address of choice,” he said.

But with the added population comes crime and traffic issues, he said, and these are areas where public-private partnerships can come into play.

For instance, Massell said, the Buckhead Coalition is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions connected with a spike in crimes against persons in the area. He also used the coalition’s influence in the addition of ramps connecting Ga. 400 and I-85 as an example of the effectiveness of partnerships.

But as vibrant as Massell sees Buckhead, he said it should not become a separate city. While Buckhead makes up 20 percent of Atlanta’s land and population, he explained, it contributes 45 percent of Atlanta’s ad valorem taxes because Buckhead land is worth more.

He said recent new cities that are popping up in the metro area are in unincorporated areas, while Buckhead already exists in an incorporated area. Atlanta could go “bankrupt” without Buckead, Massell said.

Traffic and real estate were on the mind of some of the folks in attendance at the address, too.

Rick Hamilton, co-vice president of membership for the business association, said that he was interested in hearing Massell address public transportation and traffic. Hamilton mentioned a recent trip where it took a half hour to drive a block. Hamilton added  that Massell’s yearly address was one of the association’s best-attended events.

“Sam is such a beloved fellow,” he said.

Sarah Lowe, a real estate agent, said she agreed with Massell’s assessment as Buckhead being a choice address.

“2013 was my best year,” she said, adding that she expects this year to be even better. She said Buckhead is attractive to buyers in part because it’s a tight-knit community. “The leadership is why,” she said.

–Ann Marie Quill