Cousins Rolls Up Its Sleeves in Atlanta

A major project has been added to Cousins Properties’ to-do list.
Larry Gellerstedt Cousins Properties

Larry Gellerstedt, Cousins Properties

A major project has been added to Cousins Properties’ to-do list; a 485,000-square-foot project, to be exact. In its hometown of Atlanta, the REIT recently completed a 15-year build-to-suit lease with NCR Corp., paving the way for Cousins to kick-start the development of a $200 million office tower that will serve as the consumer transaction technologies company’s new world headquarters.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for Cousins to develop and own a cutting edge, skyline-enhancing trophy tower in Atlanta’s leading technology district,” Cousins CEO Larry Gellerstedt said in a prepared statement.

The office building will be erected at Centergy North at Technology Square on Spring St. in Midtown Atlanta. Cousins will build it, Cousins will own it, and NCR will occupy it in its entirety under a 15-year lease agreement. The development has been in the works for a bit. NCR confirmed plans for the project in January and soon after, the Atlanta City Council announced that it had green-lighted a $3.2 million incentives package to help lure the company away from its current home base roughly 20 miles away in Duluth.

Bill Nuti, NCR

Bill Nuti, NCR

The location of the project was key for NCR, and Cousins came through, snapping up the parcel adjacent to Georgia Tech University in a recently completed deal. “I have stated very publicly that NCR’s bold, ambitious move to establish a state-of-the-art world headquarters campus in Midtown is a critical first step in a larger goal to create a ‘Silicon Valley of the East’ right here in Atlanta,” Bill Nuti, Chairman & CEO of NCR, said in a press release.  “We are currently, and will continue, advocating for other tech leaders and innovative companies to follow our lead.”

However, NCR isn’t abandoning the suburbs altogether. While the company will consolidate several facilities under one roof in Midtown, it plans to keep a second state-of-the-art campus outside of Atlanta, the arrangements for which will be solidified later this summer. There’s a method to NCR’s madness. As noted in a first quarter report by commercial real estate services firm JLL, “NCR’s strategy to maintain a significant presence in the northern suburbs differentiates them from other tech companies. The decision to operate two very different work environments may be advantageous in the short term, as they will be well positioned to attract top millennial talent in Midtown, and the long term, giving NCR a competitive advantage should millennials ever choose to migrate out to the suburbs.”

Cousins is scheduled to begin construction of the Midtown high-rise in the first quarter of 2016 and expects to complete the development in early 2018.