Metro Atlanta Chamber to stay downtown, perhaps along Peachtree

The Metro Atlanta Chamber plans to announce its new headquarters location sometime early next year, but chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog said the business coalition remains committed to downtown.

Metro Atlanta Chamber building

December 5, 2014 Atlanta: Metro Atlanta Chamber building sits at the corner of Centennial Olympic Park. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

The chamber has been in negotiations to sell its building to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority for about a year. The authority wants to expand Centennial Olympic Park by purchasing the chamber’s building, razing it and turning the land into additional event space. The plan was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last December.

The GWCC Authority’s plan to buy the chamber building and renovate the park got a boost last month when the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation committed $10 million to the park’s capital campaign.

“We are committed to staying downtown,” Moddelmog said in a brief interview Thursday before the chamber’s annual meeting. “We are still in the process of figuring out (where we are going). It will be soon.”

The current chamber building holds a prominent corner at Andrew Young International Boulevard and Marietta Street. It has a rooftop events space that’s been a revenue generator for the chamber, through special functions such as business receptions and even weddings. But the building also has limited parking for chamber officials and visiting dignitaries.

The building is well-known to visitors of the park and also has played host to numerous television news shoots and exclusive receptions. It’s unclear if leased space within an office tower could provide the organization with as much visibility as its current home, though the Georgia Chamber enjoys signage visible from the Downtown Connector from a building on Peachtree Street.

191 Peachtree

The 191 Peachtree building (191Peachtree St.) in downtown Atlanta, listed as city’s fourth tallest building, with the Georgia-Pacific Center (133 Peachtree St.), in the foreground. AJC File Photo

The Metro Atlanta Chamber and its representatives are said to have considered numerous spots, including Allen Plaza, the 191 Peachtree building, SunTrust Plaza, the stair-shaped Georgia-Pacific Center, 100 Peachtree (known as the Equitable building) and several historic structures around downtown.

A brief flirtation with office space in Midtown quickly passed, people familiar with the process said.

SunTrust Plaza

The SunTrust Plaza in 2011. AJC File Photo.

Larry Gellerstedt, CEO of Cousins Properties, the owner of 191 Peachtree and the 2015 chairman of the chamber board, has recused himself from any real estate discussions, people familiar with the matter said.

A Peachtree Street address, downtown’s best known thoroughfare, might be most attractive to the group and its high-powered board.

The 191 Peachtree building and SunTrust Plaza are two of the buildings considered that stand on downtown’s main drag and already include some of the city’s better known companies and chamber members.

In the 1990s, 191 Peachtree was one of the city’s top business addresses, but the banks and law firms that once called it home later moved to Midtown. Cousins acquired it before the recession hit and has spent years sprucing it up and restocking its roster of tenants. The tower is also home to the Commerce Club and the Atlanta Press Club.

SunTrust Plaza, a John Portman-designed and developed tower, is downtown’s tallest tower and the tower and its adjacent Garden Offices are home to its namesake bank, Coca-Cola technology workers as well as a hub for international law firm Dentons.

“Downtown needs us more than Midtown or Buckhead. It’s where we need to be,” Moddelmog said.

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