The former Gold Kist headquarters in Dunwoody’s Perimeter Center is soon to be remodeled and renovated into a creative corporate campus including a complete renovation of the massive 3-story building that has sat vacant for many years.
Buckhead-based RocaPoint Partners and New York-based The Georgetown Company recently purchased the approximately 13-acre Gold Kist site at 244 Perimeter Center Parkway for an undisclosed amount. The site is within walking distance of the Dunwoody MARTA Station, Perimeter Mall and the towering State Farm glass buildings. Plans are to “renovate and reimagine” the vacant headquarters building to create a space unique to the Perimeter Center market.
“We think it’s a premier location in metro Atlanta with a high-quality redevelopment potential,” said Phil Mays, principal with RocaPoint Partners.
“We will do a complete renovation and reimagining of the headquarter building … and it will be done in such a way that it will become a creative-type of campus … a merging of the outdoors with the indoors,” he said.
The Gold Kist headquarters was built in 1975 and overlooks I-285. The mid-rise building has more than 264,000 square feet and large “floor plates,” the amount of leasable square feet on an individual floor. One floor of the Gold Kist building has 80,000 square feet. In contrast, the new Twelve24 office tower on Hammond Drive across the street from State Farm has about 28,000 square feet on one floor.
The Gold Kist headquarters was one of the first office buildings to be constructed in what is now known as Perimeter Center. Before it became Gold Kist, the company was the Cotton Producers Association, a cooperative founded in the mid-1930s by D.W. Brooks, an agronomy professor at the University of Georgia, to help farmers during the Great Depression market their cotton.
By the 1950s, the co-op had diversified beyond cotton to chickens, fertilizer, pork and other grains, and became known as Gold Kist. In 2006, Gold Kist was sold to Pilgrim’s Pride Cooperation, becoming the largest poultry business in the world.
Buildings with history such as Gold Kist tend to be more interesting as well, Mays said, so renovating it rather than tearing it down to build something new was also appealing. As a former headquarters, the building also has “good bones” to work with, he said.
“We’re very practical as to what we think should happen here,” he said. “Our feeling is you can get a new glass cube anywhere, but an adaptive reuse is a compelling and more interesting place to work.”
Plans are to weave the history of the building into the remodeling and save certain artifacts to incorporate into a contemporary design, he said. The property is zoned for 1 million square feet of office space, but Mays said there are no current plans to build out to that size. There are future plans to add another office building and possibly a hotel, he said.
The existing campus already has outdoor common areas that are to be renovated and updated that will be part of an office campus “not seen in the Central Perimeter markets,” he said.
“There is an enormous amount of Class A office space in Perimeter Center, but they are not for the next generation [of employees],” he said. “I think we’re seeing across the country a desire to not be locked in a box, for a mix of outdoors with indoors.” These kinds of campuses help companies hire and retain high-quality employees, he said.
Mays said the building lends itself to a single user for a national or regional headquarters. Companies are already reaching out to gain more information on the building, he said.
RocaPoint Partners was the developer for the new $370 million Halcyon “mixed-use village” in Forsyth County at McFarland Parkway and Ga. 400. The 135-acre property includes restaurants, a food hall, apartments, single -family houses, townhouses, 480,000 square feet of retail and office space and two hotels. There is also a Mercedes-Benz Experience Center onsite with interactive digital displays and new vehicle showcases and product launches.
The Georgetown Company is known for its joint development with the Hearst Corporation to restore redevelop the former headquarters of the historic Herald Examiner newspaper building in Los Angeles. The building was built in 1914 by William Randolph Hearst, a colorful newspaper publisher and businessman.
Dunwoody’s Economic Development Director Michael Smith said the project would add “energy and momentum” to an area already thriving around the MARTA station, including State Farm and the new Twelve24 office building where Insight Global is relocating its headquarters.
The Gold Kist building has sat vacant for at least nine years, Starling said. Recently, the “iconic” building been a popular site for movie and commercial shoots because of its distinctive look and massive size. Director Clint Eastwood used the Gold Kist building as the site of Atlanta’s division of the FBI in his movie “Richard Jewell” about the wrongly accused 1996 Olympics bombing suspect.
“It’s an interesting building and a unique opportunity,” Starling said. “It’s not your typical high rise. It’s really big, but only three stories and takes up most of the site. And the large floor plates are something we don’t have in the Perimeter Center.”
Starling estimates that a building with more than 260,000 square feet could bring in between 800 to 900 jobs “with easy walking distance of the MARTA station.”
“Reusing the building … makes a lot of sense,” he said. “The [developers] behind the project have a lot of experience retrofitting old buildings, to create something a little more unique. Sounds to me like it would be a good place for tech or other creative companies.”
The Georgetown Company and RocaPoint Partners purchased the building for an undisclosed amount from Dunwoody Crown Towers. Dunwoody Crown Towers had hoped in 2016 to get approval from the Dunwoody City Council to build a massive mixed-use development on the property, including four high rise buildings, including office and residential towers. The developers withdrew the project after the council hinted it was going to deny the project in part because they wanted more owner-occupied residential units.