Mixed Use Becoming a Commodity

Last year I wrote this article about the impact mixed use developments approved by our city council will have on traffic in Alpharetta. Now it seems some of the experts are even starting to voice concerns about the real estate trend that will soon add more than 100,000 cars to Alpharetta roads.

You can read the full article by clicking the photo below.


Mixed Use Commodity

3 thoughts on “Mixed Use Becoming a Commodity

  1. Thanks for keeping us posted Jim.
    Maybe as Alphtetta’s mayor you can at least slow this trend.

    It seems to me what you wrote about last year is becoming worse than we could have imagined in terms of losing the suburban feel we moved here for.

    Keep up the great work. 👍🏼

  2. When the country was going through the heyday of regional mall development in the late 60s through the early 80s, there was a general rule of thumb developers stuck to – 5 miles between malls. That’s what (they thought) was supportable. You had certain exceptions – Lenox and Phipps here in Atlanta, The Court and the Plaza outside of Philly (now connected). One mile was the general rule of thumb for grocery anchored strips. When I got into the industry in the late 80s, there were already signs that those rules were wrong. When we had nearly 1800 malls in the country in the early 1990s, we were warned that 25% of those malls were going to have to go away. Today, we are at about 1300, and we are warned that at least 25% of those will go away. They don’t go away, they get repurposed from the original concept. Some do really well (and are almost being repurposed into nice mixed use developments like Natick Mall outside of Boston), while others (the ones that shouldn’t have been built in the first place) will never be good.
    If you go out 20-25 years and look back, it will be easy to point and say which of these mixed use developments shouldn’t have been built. But, because developers, especially merchant builders that build and then sell soon after, need to develop to generate revenues, and equity needs to be placed for it to have earning potential, and lenders have to lend, there has to be some checks in place otherwise you end up with blight. Maybe not immediately after it’s developed, but a few years down the road. Giving away tens of millions in incentives, making the entitlement process far too easy, making it cheap to buy parking waivers – developers would truly be idiots if they didn’t flock to Alpharetta. But that’s not necessarily the right thing. (If it’s going to cost a developer $30k per space to be self-supporting for parking, and if it’s going to restrict the square footage they can develop on their land by 30/40/50%, of course they will come looking for parking waivers at $10/$15/$20k per space).
    Avalon will be solid longer term. But, even Avalon may take shorter term hits when newer developments open. Think back 5-10 years. How many frozen yogurt stores did we have within 2-3 miles of downtown Alpharetta? How many still exist today. Prospective franchisees saw the success of the few that existed, landlords coming off the recession wanted to fill their vacancies and they all rolled in. And, the vacancies from one too many frozen yogurt stores get backfilled (hopefully).
    We want an Avalon. We want a City Center. But there is a limit. Keep that long term view Jim. And, make sure we don’t give away the house.

    • Thank you sir. It’s always great to hear how different the perspective is from people in the commercial property industry who actually live in Alpharetta. I appreciate your support.

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