OliverMcMillan's Hunter Richardson, project manager of Buckhead Atlanta, said Tuesday that a confluence of factors contributed to this week being the right time for . These factors include design elements, permitting and leasing activity all coming together.
"By starting this week we are still able to open the first portion of the project at the end of 2013," Richardson said. "Its starting with the end date in mind and we needed to start now."
While construction has officially begun, many pre-construction activities have been going on under the radar up until now, Richardson said. The former HiFi Buys building has been redone to serve as a base of operations for contractor Balfour Beatty Construction and Georgia Power recently "under grounded" power lines on Buckhead Avenue in between the two sections of the development. Some time in the next month, Richardson said the power poles will come down on Buckhead Avenue.
Workers were on the scene Tuesday making the site safe to work on — cleaning up a certain amount of debris in the "basement" area underneath where , the first officially announced retailer for Buckhead Atlanta, will eventually reside. This area will serve as a two level underground parking deck. Next comes the demolition of columns, cutting them down so that they fit the new design, form work and then pouring floors, he said.
"Its a series of steps we take in order to do the construction," Richardson said.
Since Buckhead Atlanta was first announced, Richardson explained that there have been several small changes made to the final design.
"They are little relative to what the outside world is going to see but they are big relative to the overall impact of the project," he said. "We took the design as it was and we worked it. We have looked at every detail relative to making sure it was fitting our vision for making special places happen."
All possible details were evaluated, Richardson said — "every facade, every foot of pavement, every tree and every light fixture."
"We are really trying to make sure we've got the right scale and the right environment that is going to be welcoming to the customer. We are running as fast and as hard as we can. It is a very complicated project"
Richardson said that OliverMcMillan, who purchased Buckhead Atlanta a little over a year ago, considers the project to be on track for the schedule they originally set since taking over — even though they planned for construction to start sooner. .
"We originally were thinking we were going to start a little sooner than this but this schedule still keeps us delivering the project in 2013, which is what our original target was. So as far as OliverMcMillan is concerned, we are not on a delay we are still on the target that we've been talking about for months."
While renderings of a completed Buckhead Atlanta may cause some to compare it to Midtown's Atlantic Station, Richardson said there really is no comparison. He feels Buckhead Atlanta will blend seamlessly into the community, whereas Atlantic Station had a difficult time connecting to Midtown.
"The big difference is that Atlantic Station is a project. This [Buckhead Atlanta] is six city blocks within the village of Buckhead. We don't treat it as a project, it is a series of developments," he explained. "What we are aspiring to is to develop each of these blocks so that they fit into the fabric of the village of Buckhead as opposed to a free standing project."
Ultimately, Richardson sees Buckhead Atlanta as a logical step forward for the community of Buckhead.
"It is the evolution of a district," he said. "You find this in other parts of the country, like Georgetown in D.C. It used to be the college age, night club district. Today it is a vibrant retail shopping, interspersed with restaurants district that appeals to a wider segment of D.C. So the intent here is to do the same thing."