Atlanta has quickly established itself as the tech hub of the Southeast with companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon planning to add many more jobs in the near future. The addition of these high-paying jobs from tech firms will continue to fuel demand for office space and high-end apartments. 

While the long term outlook remains bullish the realities of the current situation can at best be described as uncertain. Atlanta lost approximately 300,000 jobs from March to April during the initial shutdown due to the global pandemic, erasing over 4 years worth of employment gains in the city. Labor statistics are starting to show a feeble recovery as the city added 35,000 jobs from April to May, but a recent rise in coronavirus cases after Gov. Kemp’s aggressive reopening and massive protests in the streets threaten to stall the optimism of a quick, v-shaped recovery for the metro area.  

Kemp is moving forward with his strategy to stem the negative tide of a prolonged economic downturn, most recently by reopening the state’s film, television and entertainment industry to continue productions. Kemp stated that film production companies are planning to invest over $2 billion into the Georgia economy over the next year and a half. 

“The entertainment production industry is coming back and ready to jump-start the Georgia economy by creating jobs and generating greatly needed investment and spending in communities across the Peach State,” Kemp said in a press release. 

Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston commented further saying, “The creative arts and entertainment — particularly television and film — have long been driving forces in our economy, and they will be instrumental as we recover from the impact of the pandemic. Working together, we will keep Georgia the leading destination for film and television production — thousands of Georgia jobs depend on it.” 

The other big piece of real estate related news for the city is that WarnerMedia plans to sell and lease back the iconic CNN Center in downtown Atlanta. The building, with its large red CNN logo outside, was a national focal point during the recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, and sustained extensive damage once the protests turned to looting and rioting. WarnerMedia released a statement saying that with the five-year leaseback plan, “There will be no immediate impact to employees working at the CNN Center.”

Now let’s take a closer look at how the commercial real estate market has fared in metro-Atlanta over the last month.


The retail market has been hit hard in general by the Covid-19 shutdown but retail investment sales broker KB Yabuku with Ackerman & Co. is hopeful we are seeing the first signs of a comeback. 

“For a couple of months, it was pretty quiet,” Yabuku said. “But in the past few weeks, guys have been starting to come from under the rocks. We’re definitely starting to see more activity.” 

Part of that activity includes Avalon, the $1 billion mixed-use development in Alpharetta, securing four new retailers with High Country Outfitters, Onward Reserve, Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy and Tempur-Pedic deciding to open stores there. High Country Outfitters has already opened and the others expect to open by fall. 

CoStar market analyst Trenton Turner stated, “Avalon sits adjacent to some of metro Atlanta’s wealthiest households and several fast growing neighborhoods. As such, retail tenants stand to benefit from high-paying consumers living and working in the surrounding communities. With a scarce amount of available retail space in urban nodes of North Fulton, Avalon will likely remain an attractive option for retailers.” 


With brick and mortar retail struggling to overcome a new reality, Internet shopping and food delivery apps have quickly expanded to fill the need of the flow of goods from producers to consumers. Atlanta has continued to see large investments from e-commerce giants like Amazon. 

The company has targeted Atlanta as the hub of its Southeastern US operations, and leases about 12 million square feet of industrial space in the Atlanta region. 2020 has been a busy year for Amazon around Atlanta adding about 4.25 million square feet of distribution and warehouse space in the area with the signing of 4 new leases.

So far the pandemic has not created a slowdown in industrial leasing in the metro area. Leasing velocity has actually accelerated over the last few months. Atlanta hosts a diverse number of multinational companies that use the hub to distribute regionally and nationally. The city’s infrastructure and educated workforce will continue to make it a premier industrial hub.


As many people have switched from going into the office to working from home many experts expect to see a long term effect on the multifamily market. John Affleck, CoStar’s vice president of market analytics states that, “Working from home has made proximity to the office or transit irrelevant, at least for now. These realities have upended the demand patterns that have driven the multifamily market over the past decade.”

Demand for multifamily units has slowed in central business districts but has started to increase in the suburbs. “The quarter began with rents in freefall, just as the spring leasing season kicked off,” Affleck said. “Suburban product offering more space at a lower cost appears to be in high demand.” 

Midtown Atlanta had recently been a fast-growing favorite of multifamily developers with a boom in multifamily construction from 2017 to 2019. Currently there are only two projects underway as developers have put the brakes on new projects to allow completed high-rises to lease up. Rent growth has not recovered in Midtown mostly due to the pandemic, but developers are beginning to respond to recent announcements of future new jobs from companies like Microsoft and Facebook with several upcoming development projects on the horizon.  

The real test for Atlanta multifamily leasing comes over the next few months, during what would normally be the prime leasing season. The reopening of the Georgia economy has brought with it a recent spike in coronavirus cases. If this trend continues and if Atlanta faces a longer and more cautious reopening timeline then leasing activity in the city could remain weak for a number of months to come. This possibility would certainly slow down investment in new multifamily projects as well.


It is unlikely that we are seeing the demise of the corporate office building in its entirety, but the office market will certainly be significantly impacted by a long term shift to the possibilities of working from home now that the response to the virus has shown that it can be done on a large scale basis. Owner’s of office properties will need to become more active in their tenant relationships as many companies will reassess their need for offices for a large majority of their workforce and reconfigure their office environment to account for new social distancing protocols.

Matt Bronfman, CEO of real estate investment firm Jamestown confirms the need for a more active tenant relationship saying, “The owners with the biggest struggles will be those that bought properties thinking they were just going to sit back and let the rent checks roll in, occasionally hiring a broker to fill vacant space. Successful owners are going to be those that actively partner with and support their tenants, helping both keep them in business and get them to the point where they can thrive.”

Developer Egbert Perry, CEO of The Integral Group states that, “People across many industries have had to rethink the balance between the use of technology vs. in-person engagement, and as a result, I think we are going to see some work habits change. There could be increased focus on designing residential space to have the flexibility to also serve, in part, as an office, with a technology-enabled environment to support that.”

Owners and operators of existing office buildings will need to reconsider many aspects of their office environments as currently configured. Once common solutions such as elevators and open floor plans may no longer serve the needs of office workers as many are now seeking private offices and touchless technologies and scrutinizing the cleanliness of HVAC filtration systems.

Short Term Prognosis

Although facing an unprecedented crisis of public health and civil unrest, Atlanta, with its structural advantages, will likely continue to grow at a faster pace than many other metro areas across the United States. Atlanta is home to one of the busiest airports in the world and is a hub of interstate highways and rail lines in the South. The metro area boasts a very desirable mixture for businesses of both affordability and a highly educated workforce.   

Atlanta has quickly established itself as the tech hub of the Southeast with companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon planning to add many more jobs in the near future. The addition of these high-paying jobs from tech firms will continue to fuel demand for office space and high-end apartments. 

We Can Help

Whether you’re looking to lease, buy or sell commercial property, now is still the time to do it in Atlanta. The Meridian Real Estate Group has been assisting commercial clients for well over a decade and would love the privilege of earning your business. Our goal is not just to help our clients with a transaction, but to support the building of financial legacies through real estate. Call us today at 678-631-1723 or visit us online at We look forward to serving you.

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