Zeller part of downtown renaissance

November 17,2017

Source: Douglas Sams, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Zeller Realty Group is becoming an important player in downtown Atlanta’s renaissance.

Zeller owns 100 Peachtree, also known historically as The Equitable Building, which sits on the edge of Woodruff Park and has has been a fixture on the Atlanta skyline for decades.

Zeller bought the 33-story building earlier this year for about $80 million. New leasing deals with companies such as Boston Consulting Group have the tower about 87 percent leased. Georgia’s Own Credit Union is also moving its headquarters to 100 Peachtree.

The momentum reflects a broader story about the building’s surrounding neighborhood, the Fairlie Poplar District.

Zeller Realty principal Mark Vollbrecht sees a parallel between Fairlie Poplar and the historic buildings and neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles.

People lost interest in those older areas of Los Angeles as money flowed toward new towers in other parts of the city. The same thing happened in Atlanta.

Now, in both cities residents and employers are rediscovering an appreciation for the authenticity, culture and connectivity of the historic downtown. In Atlanta, more investment is targeting the area.

“It all gets back to the infrastructure,” Vollbrecht said of Fairlie Poplar.

“MARTA is a block away. Georgia State is a catalyst. There’s the vibrancy of people walking on Broad Street. And there’s Woodruff Park. You can’t duplicate a nearly 5-acre park like this in an urban setting,” Vollbrecht said.

The park was created in the early 1970s with a philanthropic gift from former The Coca-Cola Co. president Robert W. Woodruff.

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For a time, it was not always a place people wanted to walk. Today, there is a resurgence of daily activity including meditation and yoga. Zeller is one of the downtown office landlords helping to get the word out to 100 Peachtree tenants.

“They are just about the best neighbor we could ask for,” said Ansley Whipple, with Central Atlanta Progress and a project manager for Woodruff Park.

A revived Advisory Committee made up of landlords such as Zeller is having an influence.

The Committee helps cover the costs of live music and events and has started considering how it might add Wi-Fi in the park.“The financial support is helpful, but it’s getting the word out to tenants that means the most,” Whipple said.

Zeller is also working with Georgia State University to promote events at The Rialto Center for the Arts.

Vollbrecht said, “We are developing a community.”

Brooke Dewey, with Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., the broker marketing space in 100 Peachtree, said:

“This is about more than what is happening in our building. It’s about the neighborhood.”

Zeller Realty wants new improvements slated for 100 Peachtree to become a symbol of the renewed energy in Fairlie Poplar.

It’s used similar strategies in cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and Portland.

In Indianapolis, Zeller spent millions upgrading Market Tower, remaking obsolete space into something more appealing to today’s office tenants.

At 100 Peachtree, it’s launching a program that will ask the real estate community to rethink what modern office space should look like for their companies. It’s basically a quasi office-design lab that will be called Spur. The concepts will be tested at 100 Peachtree.

“What we want to do is take a building like this and turn it into something special,” Vollbrecht said.