Developer Explains Thinking Behind "Buckhead Atlanta"

January 16, 2014

Developer OliverMcMillan caught a lot of grief when it changed the name of Streets of Buckhead, a $1 billion mixed-use project that stalled during the recession.

When OliverMcMillan took over the development in 2011, it renamed the project "Buckhead Atlanta." The new moniker wasn’t an immediate hit. Some called it boring.

Others said it was confusing. This week OliverMcMillan CEO Dene Oliver explained why the developer picked “Buckhead Atlanta." Once again, he said he wanted the project to blend into the existing fabric of intown Atlanta.

“The Streets of Buckhead, to us, tended to have a connotation of a certain finite area of these particular streets,” Oliver told the Buckhead Business Association on Thursday. “You don’t go to Madison Avenue or the Gaslamp (Quarter) and suddenly take one part of an area you’re developing and create this whole new identity. Buckhead is the identity. The city is Atlanta."

Oliver, who said the new name was more inclusive of the entire urban district that had already been developed, went on to say the change also helped European markets better identify with Buckhead. Many of the retailers OliverMcMillan has landed are new to the city, such as luxury Italian label Etro.

The retailers further validated Buckhead Atlanta, a long-awaited redevelopment of a former bar district in the Buckhead Village. Last summer, OliverMcMillan struck a deal with its first anchor office tenant — the $1 billion, underwear company Spanx Inc. The Atlanta-based business also plans to open a flagship retail store there.

Construction continues to pick up speed. More than 800 workers are on the site, up from about 600 last month. Oliver also gave a nod to former Streets of Buckhead developer Ben Carter, who assembled the land at Peachtree, Pharr and East Paces Ferry roads in 2006. Carter eventually had to walk away from the development after the economy undermined its momentum. Construction was halted for more than a year.

“We would not have had this opportunity, if not for those that came before us,” Oliver said. “So, it’s a new day, and it’s a new group, and it’s going to be a different project. It’s going to be the best project that we are able to deliver. I can also tell you it’s the hardest thing that I have done in my entire career.”