Former Atlanta Mayor and the undisputed “Mayor of Buckhead” Sam Massell told a packed house of about 75 businessmen and women that Buckhead is thriving and headed in a positive direction, due to its effective leadership and partly because of its continued development of more than 3,500 new apartments.
Massell delivered his annual “State of Buckhead” address to the Buckhead Business Association at the City Club of Buckhead on Thursday morning, and his message boasted the community’s growth and continued prosperity due to its engaged and strong leadership base.
“The state of Buckhead, economically, is one of very sound health,” Massell told Buckhead Patch after the breakfast meeting. “It’s continuing on a positive path.”
The Buckhead name and the community’s legacy is national and even international, Massell said.
“When you go to Little Rock, Ark. and tell them you’re from Atlanta, they don’t say, 'Tell me about Midtown.' They say, 'Tell me about Buckhead.' That’s not by accident. The image of Buckhead has been built with the leadership of the community over and over with the help of the media explaining what we have and what we offer.”
One example of that leadership is the Buckhead Coalition, of which Massell is the founder, which was created 25 years as a supplement to local government, to be an advocate for Buckhead but not as an adversary to local government officials.
In addition to the Buckhead Coalition, Buckhead has 40 neighborhood associations, 34 houses of worship, 13 PTAs, nine service organizations “which all have leaders who are pushing forward for the progress and prosperity of our community,” he said.
“We know that if we make the place pleasant enough and attractive enough, it becomes the address of choice. It will pay dividends, and that’s exactly what’s happening today.”
“Buckhead has something for everybody, and it will continue to be so, in my opinion,” Massell said.
In his trademark charismatic way, Massell kept the crowd smiling and laughing as he told them about the various developments coming up for Buckhead as it emerges from the economic downturn experienced throughout the country.
“I said Buckhead would be the last to feel the recession and the first to come out of it, and that’s exactly what happened,” Massell said.
He rattled off a list of “economic indicators” to show that his prediction had indeed come true.
- Buckhead continues to see more apartment growth. Massell said there are currently 3,549 apartments under development in some stage in Buckhead that were announced between Jan. 1, 2012 and now. As for “overbuilding,” Massell said, some of the apartments will be “struggling with rents,” but if the area continues with this pace, Buckhead will have doubled its inventory in six years.
- The money’s in Buckhead. Buckhead has 50 banks, representing 21 firms–six of which are headquartered in Buckhead. “Because that’s where the money is,” he said.
- Explosive population growth: Most of Atlanta’s growth from 2000 to 2010 was in Buckhead, Massell said. "It's a pretty good indicator we got something going that's good."
- A Buckhead resident arranged to buy the New York Stock Exchange Euronext for $8.2 billion.
- Retail sales in Buckhead increased in 2012 over the previous year, he said.
- Buckhead had the lowest commercial vacancy rate in the Atlanta area last year, he said. Less than 10 years ago, Buckhead had four half-million square-foot office buildings under construction for which the community was “ridiculed by the Wall Street Journal as well as the Atlanta Business Chronicle,” but Massell said he is proud that three of the buildings are “practically full and the other is underway.”
The former Realtor closed his speech with a reminder. “Think about the opportunity when it presents itself of buying a little bit of Buckhead and taking care of it now and it will take care of you later.