The Wilbert Group Blog

Posts by Patrick Christman

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 7/7/16

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  1. Wilbertblogphoto(1)How did you celebrate Independence Day? In Atlanta, CRE pros displayed their patriotism by participating in the city’s many events, as reported in this Bisnow article by Jarred Schenke. Wilbert client North American Properties’ Liz Gillespie donned red, white and blue during the firm’s first annual 4th on the Square event at Colony Square in Midtown. The event took place Monday with music, food and a place for spectators to watch the Peachtree Road Race participants.
  1. In the June issue of Real Estate Forum, the magazine profiled “CRE’s Best Bosses.” Coming in at number one is Andrew Wright, Franklin Street CEO and Wilbert client. Wright won based on a poll by Real Estate Forum’s readers, totaling nearly 4,000 votes. The young CEO was 26 when he established the company in 2006. Since then, he has grown the full-service CRE firm from four people to 200 staffers in six offices in major markets throughout the Southeast, all focused on delivering value-added solutions to CRE owners and occupiers nationwide.
  1. WIlbertblogphoto(2)Mickey Mouse toothbrushes. Minnie Mouse watches. Toys, t-shirts and trinkets. Is there a brand or product that simply shouldn’t be Disneyfied? Incredibly, the answer might be no. Disney recently joined with clothing and accessories brand Coach on a collection that includes a $250 wristlet with oversize Mickey Mouse ears, a $1,995 leather motorcycle jacket with a studded Mickey Mouse silhouette on the back, and $245 Mickey Mouse sneakers. Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ Jared Wiesel detailed his opinion of the matter in this MarketWatch article, saying, “If executed correctly, this unique offering should be relatively insulated from direct competitive threats and create a reason for new and existing customers to engage with the Coach brand.”
  1. Last month, Breakthrough Atlanta, in partnership with the Atlanta chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association and Wilbert client Aaron’s, hosted its second Celebrity Basketball Game at The Lovett School’s Wallace Gymnasium. The game featured a friendly competition between Team Dale Ellis and Team Dikembe Mutombo, along with several of their fellow NBA legends. Breakthrough Atlanta’s programs help middle and high school students develop the academic skills and study habits to enroll and succeed in college – and, ultimately, in life.
  1. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s J. Scott Trubey Wilbert clients Colony Square and Peachtree Center were “mixed-use before mixed-use was cool.” Now these Atlanta landmarks are gearing up for major overhauls that their owners say will open the developments to their surroundings. In December, North American Properties and equity partner Lionstone Investments acquired the two office towers and mall and announced plans to turn Colony Square into Midtown’s “living room.” For Peachtree Center, the basic design won’t change, but there are plans to add restaurants and shops in the outdoor plaza to make the complex more inviting.

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Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 6/3/16

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  1. 031416_weekend_roundup_jp01Have you gone down Peachtree in Midtown recently? We’re guessing yes, and we’re guessing you’ve noticed the giant MIDTOWN letters sitting at the corner of 15th Street and Peachtree, standing eight feet tall and spanning a total of forty feet. While these may seem like a tourist trap, Jill Vejnoska at the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote that a funny thing happened outside of Wilbert client Colony Square: “People started liking them. A lot.” Jill wrote a great feature in the AJC, saying, “Almost as soon as the letters appeared, people began taking selfies with them, sometimes posting them on social media with the hashtag #IAmMidtown. In just two months, they’ve become a staging spot for all sorts of public events, from jazz concerts and a “Bike to Work Day” promotion to an Earth Day celebration.” Welcome to the new hottest spot in Midtown!
  1. The laws of supply and demand have become more complicated at Orlando’s big theme parks as they make shifts in pricing strategies. Recently, Disney has aggressively raised prices. In October, the company revamped its annual-pass system to make it much more expensive for people to visit during Christmas and spring break. Then in February, it announced tiered one-day ticket prices. The Magic Kingdom costs up to $124 on the busiest days. According to Matt Busch at Wilbert client Revenue Analytics, “The right pricing strategy can benefit both the company and the customer — that idea of…. managing demand so you don’t have these crazy crowds that can’t be served well.”
  1. UnknownLooking for an estate near Athens? Wilbert client Beaver Dam Farms, the 973-acre estate formerly owned by country singer Kenny Rogers, is heading to auction on July 9. The estate is centered around a 12,000-square-foot mansion and includes three private spring-fed lakes, five guest houses and a clubhouse and a lake clubhouse. Also on the property is an equestrian arena that includes 44 stalls and two swimming pools, as well as two clay tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course. The owners said they will sell the property to the highest bidder “at or above $3.5 million fully furnished.” You can get more details from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and, a Wilbert first, TMZ!
  1. Jeffrey Bayer, president and CEO of Birmingham-based Wilbert client Bayer Properties, has been named to the board of trustees for International Council of Shopping Centers. Bayer is a part of the select group of international leaders in the retail industry that serve on the board. “It is a privilege to join the international leadership of ICSC,” Bayer said in a statement. “ICSC is the most influential organization in our industry and represents thought leadership and innovation. I am truly honored to sit on its Board of Trustees.”
  2. Atlanta-based national labor and employment firm and Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips has ditched the ampersand and rebranded as Fisher Phillips. The firm unveiled a new logo, tagline and website to go with the streamlined name as part of the campaign to update its brand. “Fisher Phillips is a strong, modern firm that can take on the toughest cases for the most discerning clients. Our brand will now reflect that,” said its chairman, Roger Quillen, in an announcement from the 350-lawyer firm.

 

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 5/12/16

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  1. MW-EM519_macys__20160511141748_ZHMacy’s is in real trouble. The retailer, whose shares were down some 14 percent at one point Wednesday, is facing headwinds from a “second consecutive year of double-digit spending reductions by international visitors in major tourist markets where Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are key destinations,” said Chief Executive Terry Lundgren in a statement. However, Jared Wiesel, partner at Wilbert client Revenue Analytics, told MarketWatch that, “there’s no doubt the softer global economy and the strength of the dollar is having an impact, but to say that sales dropped seven percent and say that that’s the major driver, I’m a little skeptical.” Wiesel advises the retailer to invest in better analytics and promotions practices.

 

  1. It’s not all bad news for retailers. Leon Stafford at the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently wrote about phase II of Wilbert client Avalon, which has landed some shopping heavy hitters, including Brooks Brothers, Levi’s and Urban Outfitters. The 86-acre mixed-use project, set to open next spring, also has leased space to Lucky Brand, The Boardroom Salon for Men, Hop City, Rumi’s Kitchen and Brine Fish House. Phase I of the project — which includes a Whole Foods store, movie theater and high-end apartments — opened in September 2014.

 

  1. Dave Williams at the Atlanta Business Chronicle recently reported on the latest National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) “quickie” elections figures, supplied by Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips. It turns out, the quicker the “quickie” union election is held, the more likely is a union victory. The firm looked at union certification elections across the country since last April, when the NLRB adopted rules allowing unions seeking to organize workers to hold elections within 11 days of filing a petition. While Fisher & Phillips found the victory rate for unions since the rules took effect has remained unchanged at 66 percent, union wins jumped to 85 percent in elections held within two weeks of a petition filing.

 

  1. web-toddler-Atantic-Station-600-x-400Need to know what to do with your toddler this summer? Look no further: Wilbert client Atlantic Station’s Central Park becomes a playground on Tuesdays, with games, storytelling, toys, music and special guests appearances. It’s available for toddlers younger than age five through September, and the best part: it’s free! You can check out other toddler activities in and around Atlanta here, which also includes Avalon’s Plaza, with face painters, storytellers, magicians, zoo animals and more.

 

  1. The Atlanta Jazz Festival lights up Piedmont Park at the end of the month, but metro music lovers don’t have to wait until then to get their groove on. The “31 Days of Jazz” is in full swing, with tunes on tap throughout the city. Workers taking a lunch break at Wilbert client Midtown’s Colony Square can hear music on the outdoor plaza on Thursdays from noon until 1 p.m., while those in (another Wilbert client) Peachtree Center will be entertained in the food court on Fridays.

Russell-Gunn---performance---photo-by-Robb-D.-Cohen-2

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 3/15/16

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  1. Using predictive analytics, businesses are able to approach opportunities, risks, business partners, and customers differently because they have foresight they lacked previously. However, there are still challenges. While companies want to increase revenue, customers are constantly demanding more value for their money. Jon Higbie, chief science officer at pricing and revenue management firm and Wilbert client Revenue Analytics says, “Customer response to price, merchandising, and promotions are levers you have to pull to make the right recommendation. You have a forecast, you apply a market response model to it, and you have a holistic price-sensitive demand forecast that includes competition.” Using predictive analytics, Revenue Analytics was able to help a global hospitality group increase top-line revenue by 2.7% over a 13-week period throughout the Americas. You can read the full article on Information Week.

 

  1. Got plans for St. Patrick’s Day this year? If not, come join us at Wilbert client Avalon’s second annual Luck of Avalon event happening this Thursday (March 17). Get in the spirit with Irish music, dancing and all things green, including beer and candy. Read all about the family friendly event in this Neighborhood Newspaper article, which will feature music from live bagpipers with North Atlanta Pipes & Drums, face painting for children, a photo booth and more. Festivities will take place at 2200 Avalon Blvd. in Alpharetta from 4 to 10 p.m. “It’s just a fun celebration for everyone to wear their green, bring their families and friends out and have a good time in the plaza,” said Carla Toro, director of marketing for developer North American Properties.

 

  1. Before you start or join an NCAA tournament bracket at work, you should consider the risks. Employers have to be careful, too, according to Atlanta attorney Corey Goerdt, an associate with Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips, a national labor and employment law firm. “Many employers either allow or encourage some type of office pools around big sporting events and have little or no trouble,” Goerdt told 11Alive’s Jennifer Leslie. “However, employers should be aware of the risks, even if they are not particularly likely to impact most workplaces. Gambling is illegal, and many employers have explicit policies banning gambling. However, Goerdt said there can be a big upside to office pools. “Pools can promote teamwork and interaction among employees who otherwise might not have that opportunity,” he said.

 

  1. The American food hall boom is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon. Well-established in trend-setting cities like New York and LA, these multifaceted culinary marketplaces are spreading like wildfire to major metropolitan areas across the country. Wilbert client Bayer Properties plans on opening the Pizitz Food Hall this fall and was featured in Eater’s nine new food halls to get excited about in 2016. Plans are for two full-service restaurants, an outdoor seating and entertainment area, and an interior bar, along with several food stalls. Confirmed tenants so far include local roaster Domestique Coffee; paleta and ice cream vendor Lichita’s; an Asian dumpling concept; an independent cheese shop that will also serve sandwiches; a Korean restaurant specializing in bibimbap; and a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with communal dining. Yum!

 

  1. Curious about those giant, colorful “MIDTOWN” letters in the heart of, well, Midtown? Here’s your answer. According to the re-imaginers/developers of Colony Square, Wilbert Client North American Properties, the 8-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide word on the corner of Peachtree and 15th streets “anchors” the mixed-use development and alerts visitors to exactly where they are. “The vibrant, interactive MIDTOWN installment creates an iconic anchor for our city within a city for the local community and visitors to enjoy,” North American Properties Vice President of Marketing Liz Gillespie said in a release. “These letters establish a sense of place and further enhance the Midtown brand as the cultural, connected, innovative core of Atlanta.” North American Properties – the developer behind Atlantic Station’s turnaround and Alpharetta’s Avalon – announced plans last year to revolutionize Midtown’s iconic but tired Colony Square, the first large-scale mixed-use development in the Southeast. Most notably, plans call for taking the roof off the retail core of Colony Square to better connect it with the street and lend the sense of a walkable, open-air urban experience.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 2/16/16

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  1. We hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day, just hopefully not too lovely in the workplace! Michelli Rivera, an attorney at Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips penned an op-ed for the Augusta Chronicle on the dangers of professing love in the workplace. Rivera wrote that there are numerous examples in case law of “situations in which cards and gifts from supervisors to subordinates such as flowers, cookies, and chocolates or sexually-explicit comments are used as evidence of unwanted sexual advances.”

 

  1. At a recent forecasting breakfast in Buckhead hosted by real estate services firm and Wilbert client JLL, the theme was the longevity of walkable urban suburban environments. Ben Breslau, managing director for research with JLL, spoke at the event and explained how converting car-centric suburbs and cities to more walkable and dense communities rank among the greatest challenges and opportunities in real estate. Breslau also cited Midtown with its MARTA access and street grid as one of the best submarkets for corporate interest and growing rents. Downtown, a historically under-performing submarket, he said, is one of the neighborhoods with the greatest upside potential. You can read more about the event in this Atlanta Journal Constitution article.

 

  1. An article in this month’s Shopping Center Business magazine described the changing face of outlet centers. CEO of Wilbert client Ben Carter Enterprises, Quito Anderson, described the shift by saying, “most of the outlets used to be in rural areas where you would have to go on a journey to get your discounts.” Anderson says, now, “those days are gone.” Additionally, Anderson cites expanded food offerings as a vital piece of expansion at the Tanger Outlets Savannah in Pooler, Georgia. He said, “outlets have really taken on an image of lifestyle centers – they’re becoming a place where people come to do things other than shopping.”

 

  1. This month Wilbert client Aaron’s, Inc. renovated it’s ninth Boys & Girls Club teen center, the Independence Unit just outside of Kansas City. Local paper the Kansas City Star featured a video of local Aaron’s volunteers painting and remodeling the facility. With input from the teen members, Aaron’s associates and club officials painted, decorated and furnished the club. Later, local Aaron’s associates and club officials unveiled the new center to the teen members, which is now equipped with new technology, furniture and fresh coats of paint.

 

  1. Leading the latest effort in bringing Atlanta into the future, Mark Toro and Advance Atlanta have been organizing a movement to expand MARTA and bring some much needed relief to this congested city. Toro, CEO of Wilbert client North American Properties, spoke at a news conference this month regarding the benefits of their plan. You can see an excerpt of the Atlanta Journal Constitution article here.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines, 1/4/2016

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  1. Aaron's Turkey Donation with Action Ministries

    Aaron’s Turkey Donation with Action Ministries

    During the holidays, most families are concerned about the latest and greatest gadgets on everyone’s wish list. The last thing they worry about is if they’ll be eating a meal on Christmas day. But for hundreds of families in Georgia, not eating on Christmas was a very real possibility. That’s why Wilbert client Aaron’s teamed up with Action Ministries to donate over 200 turkeys to local Atlanta families this holiday season. Fox 5 Atlanta has a gallery of the giveaway, with photos of families, volunteers, and smiling faces. Additionally, Wilbert client Skanska donated hats, scarves and gloves to over 500 students at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School last month.

 

  1. On Dec. 11’s All About Real Estate edition of the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio show, hosts Todd Schnick and Bryan Nonni were joined by CEO and Managing Broker of Wilbert client Terrace 24 Realty, Mike Minihan. In this episode, the trio discussed the concept of Terrace 24, the company process, its value to consumers and industry professionals, trends in real estate and much more. You can listen to the full show here.

 

  1. President of Pinnacle Search Partners, William Creekmuir

    President of Pinnacle Search Partners, William Creekmuir

    Furniture Today profiled Wilbert client William Creekmuir, a former senior executive with Simmons and LADD Furniture, who is now the new owner of executive search firm Pinnacle Search Partners. Creekmuir has served in a leadership role with Pinnacle since January and will serve as its president. He served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of publicly traded LADD, and over a 15-year period worked in the United States and Ireland for the international public accounting firm KPMG, where he was responsible for college recruiting in the Carolinas and was a partner.

 

  1. Although the holidays are over, there’s still plenty of time for ice-skating. The Atlanta Journal Constitution rounded up the top places to go skating in Atlanta, including Atlantic Station, where you can lace up at Skate Atlantic Station, home to a 10,000-square-foot, open-air ice skating rink through Feb. 14. Additionally, through Jan. 24, skaters can enjoy the Rockefeller-inspired rink at Avalon, a mixed-use development in Alpharetta. Special events will be held Jan. 7, Jan. 14, and Jan. 21.

 

  1. Although you (hopefully) already had your holiday office party, this 11 Alive article on employer liability at such events is still a good read. Michelli Rivera, associate at Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips, details what kinds of legal risks employers can face if they provide alcohol at a company holiday party, and beyond. Rivera said, “Liability is a real concern for employers who know that company holiday parties can be the precipice of harassment and discrimination claims.” So whether it’s next year’s holiday party, or a Mardi Gras celebration, be sure to keep your company protected against any potential lawsuits.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines

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Santa at Avalon

1. 11 Alive recently reported on new technology that makes visits with Santa more personal than ever at Avalon in Alpharetta. Santa’s cottage is equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) that lets parents convey personal information about their children without whispering in Santa’s ear. Parents fill out a questionnaire about their children when they register online or in person at the concierge desk. “Special requests from Santa are also encouraged, such as clean your room, stop fighting with your sister or do your homework,” said Carla Toro, director of marketing at Avalon. Avalon created a video to explain the process for parents. Check it out here.

2. This year, Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, was expected to pull in a record $3 billion in sales, experts said. Traffic was expected to be up about 14 percent Monday over last year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Leon Stafford interviewed local Atlanta businesses about what successes and shortcomings they saw this year, with Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ Dax Cross providing insight into the continuing evolution of online shopping. Cross said, “Big box retailers are generally seeing 10-15 percent annual growth in online sales over last year. This growth represents a greater and greater proportion of their total growth… but their growth rates still trail Amazon’s.”

3. Our client Aaron’s remodeled the Boys & Girls Keystone teen center last month in Jacksonville, FL, its ninth Boys & Girls Club remodel this year. The club’s makeover was covered by Florida-Times Union reporter Amanda Williamson, who interviewed Deborah Green-Ward, unit director for the Beaches Clubhouse. Green-Ward said, “Here, [the teens] have a voice. We provide them with a space — and more importantly, a vehicle to express. … We know the teens will use this renovated space to invite other teens in the area to join our club so they can in turn learn and develop their leadership skills.”

4. This week, Howard Mavity, partner at leading labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips, penned an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in response to the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino. Mavity has some advice for employers in Atlanta on the best ways to increase their preparedness for such an unfortunate and increasingly common scenario. His tips include maintaining an Emergency Action Plan as required under OSHA regulations and ensuring all entrances and exits are professionally assessed.

5. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s J. Scott Trubey, “Midtown Atlanta’s Colony Square was decades ahead of its time. Now, the venerable mix of office towers and shopping mall is about to play catch-up with the modern era.” Developer and Wilbert client North American Properties and equity partner Lionstone Investments closed on their purchase of the towers at 14th and Peachtree streets last week. Unlike much of Atlanta’s recent development history, instead of tearing down the towers and starting over, the developers plan to spruce up and reinvent this pioneer of mixed-use urbanism. You can read more about the purchase in Trubey’s article, along with several quotes from Mark Toro.