Metro Atlanta Chamber to move to landmark downtown tower

The Metro Atlanta Chamber plans to move from its longtime home at Centennial Olympic Park to one of the city’s best known addresses — downtown’s 191 Peachtree tower.

191 Peachtree

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

The chamber of commerce said Thursday it plans to move into the landmark skyscraper by December after recently selling its building on Marietta Street to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. The state plans to raze the chamber building and use the land as part of a broader overhaul and expansion of the park.

The chamber has been evaluating top-end office towers in downtown for more than a year, though discussion about a move has been brewing for several years.

Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog called the relocation “a bit bittersweet,” but said the move marks a new era for the organization, which is dedicated to enhancing the region’s business climate, recruiting companies and improving quality of life.

Making sure the property would have a legacy as part of an expanded park also was important to the business booster group, she said.

Moddelmog said the chamber was committed to staying downtown and wanted to be based in a landmark building. The 50-story tower is one of the city’s better known and the fourth-tallest in Atlanta.

The current chamber building holds a prominent corner at Andrew Young International Boulevard and Marietta Street. The chamber was a pioneer to an area largely populated by rundown warehouses when it built its headquarters in the late 1980s. After the dream of building the Olympic park was born, the chamber and its roster of corporate heavyweights helped the public raise tens of millions to build downtown’s largest green space.

The park now is the center of gravity for much of downtown’s revitalization into a tourist hub, including the new Falcons stadium, the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola. The Hawks are in discussions with the city for a massive makeover of Philips Arena, and the team also is considering development of an entertainment district around the arena.

Last week, Turner Broadcasting announced it is in the early stages of planning a makeover of CNN Center. 

“We all have great expectations for what’s going on with Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Philips Arena and the Hawks,” she said.

The chamber’s current building has a rooftop events space that’s been a revenue generator for the organization, through special functions such as business receptions and even weddings. But the building also has limited parking for chamber officials and visiting dignitaries, and the building also is too large for the chamber’s needs.

The chamber will occupy the 34th floor in a space about 60 percent the size of its current building. Much of the work space will be a more modern open format with lots of meeting spaces.

Metro Atlanta Chamber

A rendering of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s new offices at 191 Peachtree in downtown. Source: Heery

“Will be using a lot of technology and experiential touches to make sure that visitors to our floor will get a sense of Atlanta’s history and Atlanta’s ascendency and where we are headed,” Moddelmog said.

Under Moddelmog, the chamber has started a branding and young professional recruiting campaign called ChooseATL. That campaign will be evident from the moment guests arrive with an interactive video or media wall with stats about metro Atlanta, images or videos that highlight the region’s diverse communities and calling cards.

The chamber plays host to some 500 business leaders from the Atlanta area and beyond each week. Increasingly, the chamber has welcomed national and international leaders as the organization has sharpened its focus on international trade and foreign direct investment.

“We think this building will send absolutely the right message about Atlanta to international delegations,” Moddelmog said.

downtown atl march 16 003

The Metro Atlanta Chamber building in downtown Atlanta will be demolished to more green space to Centennial Olympic Park.

Transit access for the chamber’s more than 75 employees and its members also was critical, Moddelmog said, and the building also sits atop the Peachtree Center MARTA station.

The ornate tower was developed by a joint venture of Atlanta-based Cousins Properties and Houston-based Hines and opened in 1991. For years, 191 Peachtree was one of the city’s top business addresses, but the financial and law firms that once called it home later moved to Midtown. Cousins re-acquired it before the recession hit and has spent years sprucing it up and restocking its roster of tenants.

The tower is home to Cousins, a major office for accounting firm Deloitte, the Commerce Club and influential nonprofits including the Woodruff Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta.

Larry Gellerstedt, CEO of Cousins Properties, the 2015 chairman of the chamber board, recused himself from any real estate discussions, the chamber said.

Real estate services firm JLL guided the chamber’s search, Cushman & Wakefield will help manage the chamber’s move, while design firm Heery has been tapped to design the chamber’s offices.

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