Business never sleeps in Perimeter Center. But sometimes it changes, drawing in new industries like video games and short-term housing rentals. And it’s always looking for easier ways to get around, which in turn attracts alternative-transit start-ups. Here are a few of the year’s top stories from the Reporter’s monthly section Perimeter Business.
Alternative transit businesses make their pitches
From Marietta to Massachusetts, companies came out of the woodwork to pitch alternative transit ideas in Perimeter Center. They were drawn by a Perimeter Center Improvement Districts study about possible mass-transit circulator systems in the congested area, which could result in a request for proposals by mid-2018.
Some companies dusted off plans dating to the 1980s construction boom and 1996 Summer Olympics; others were trying to break new ground. What they all shared was a cool factor.
The companies included Center Perimeter Plus’s network of gondolas running between Perimeter Center parking decks and MARTA stations; Owen Transit Group’s HighRoad monorail; Zagster’s bike rental system; American Maglev Technology’s magnetic-levitation train.
PCIDs leader Williams makes surprise resignation
In a surprise move, Yvonne Williams resigned after 17 years as the Perimeter Center Improvement Districts’ first and only president and CEO.
The PCIDs, two jointly operated, self-taxing business districts, took three weeks to announce her resignation and have yet to hire a new staff leader.
“I guess maybe what I did is wear myself out with passion,” Williams said of her resignation, also attributing her resignation partly to time demands of her daughter heading to college and her mother’s health issues. She has remained visible at such local functions as the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction project groundbreaking.
Airbnb rentals challenge some suburban zoning codes
Short-term housing rental services like Airbnb, best known in urban areas, had a suburban boom notable in Perimeter communities. The services allow homeowners and apartment tenants to make extra cash by arranging online rentals of their homes. But that raises such concerns as absentee owners, misbehaving guests and violations of condo rules.
A local example came in May, when an Airbnb rental of a Buckhead mansion turned out to be cover for a midnight hip hop concert where a guest allegedly flashed a pistol.
The cities of Atlanta and Dunwoody said their zoning codes restrict such short-term rentals, while Brookhaven and Sandy Springs had no regulations.
Hollywood and video games pump money into Perimeter economy
The entertainment business is booming in Perimeter Center, enough for local luncheons and conferences to be staged to discuss the bounty from the movie and video game industries.
Georgia’s $2 billion filmmaking economy has brought a lot of business to local lumber companies, caterers and antique stores. Oglethorpe University is among the sites often used for filmmaking.
Launch Media Network, a prominent video game journalism, marketing and social media company, moved from Buckhead to Sandy Springs as part of an expansion. It organized a conference about the state’s $550 million gaming economy that included Andrew Greenberg, the chair of DeKalb County’s new Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Commission.
Many proposed skyscrapers will never get built, expert say
A sudden burst of skyscraper plans in Perimeter Center—10 new towers proposed in addition to several already in construction or approved in rezonings—sparked questions for local residents and businesses: How will they impact traffic? Will they change the character of local cities?
But some experts said that many of those towers won’t do anything because they will never exist anywhere except on paper. The actual demand for Perimeter Center office space is far lower than the 10 million square feet or more proposed in all the grand plans, they said. The area has a long history of unbuilt skyscrapers dating back to the 1980s, they noted.
One developer sure his skyscrapers would rise off the page was Charlie Brown, whose Dunwoody Crown Towers plan had five tall buildings. But a few months later, he withdrew the plan from rezoning consideration with no timeline for its return.