Doraville’s bold GM investment

Fortune favors the bold, wrote Virgil in his epic, “The Aeneid.” It’s one of my favorite quotes and it rings true particularly in the process of economic development. In the early 1940s, DeKalb County Commissioner Scott Candler shrugged off a barrage of criticism when he proposed a $1 million bond issuance for a new water plant just north of Doraville. Completed in 1942, the new system featured a 30-inch water main that ran to the edge of the Southern Railway and the future General Motors site.

In 1944, GM chose Doraville, a fledgling agrarian community, as the site of its new assembly plant because of its robust water capacity. The water system, combined with the state’s promise of an $800,000, four-lane expansion of Peachtree Road, ultimately sealed the deal. The Doraville GM plant, along with the new “Peachtree Industrial Boulevard” opened in 1947.

The GM plant breathed new life into Doraville and ushered in an economic boom for North Atlanta. By 1949, that $1.8 million investment was credited with attracting more than $75 million in industrial development to north DeKalb.

Read More at AJC

Push to Relocate the Corporate Headquarters of General Electric


Local economic development officials are stepping up their push to relocate the corporate headquarters of General Electric to Atlanta, and so are real estate developers.

Atlanta's The Integral Group LLC is the latest example.

It's making an impressive visual pitch to General Electric (NYSE: GE), with renderings of its headquarters standing over the redevelopment of the former General Motors plant in Doraville. Integral is well underway with the massive redevelopment, which it calls Assembly. GE executives don’t appear to have toured Atlanta buildings or sites yet, but Atlanta looks like a possible front-runner in the race to land the headquarters. Last week, Bloomberg News reported GE may talk to real estate company Tishman Speyer soon about its new tower in Buckhead, Three Alliance Center. This week, the ownership of Atlantic Station, the mixed-use project in Midtown, released images of what the GE headquarters would look like at its project.

Not to be outdone, Integral's images are stunning. The developer shows three buildings with GE’s name and logo towering over a 145-acre mix of office buildings, street-level retail,, residential towers, and a MARTA transit station.

Read More at Atlanta Business Chronicle

Developers plan $150 million Doraville project along Buford Highway


Developers plan a $150 million mix of apartments, senior housing, stores and a hotel they say will mark the largest investment along Buford Highway in decades.

A development team, including Stephen Macauley of Macauley Investments, wants to add 504 multifamily and senior living units, a 140-room hotel, and almost 44,600 square feet of retail on 13 acres at Buford Highway and Interstate 285. The site is an abandoned Kmart. Wakefield Beasley & Associates is the project architect.

The developer has named the project "Nexus," a nod to the massive redevelopment of the nearby former Doraville General Motors plant. Known as Assembly, the 165-acre redevelopment is led by Egbert Perry’s Integral Group.

The transformation of the plant is a potential catalyst for more investment in Doraville and along Buford Highway, which the writer Tom Wolfe once called six lanes of hard blacktop bounded by blasted heaths of concrete and hard-baked dirt.

Overlooked for years and home to some of metro Atlanta’s highest poverty rates, Buford Highway is now a target for new investment as more developers concentrate projects closer to transit. Doraville sits at the northern end of MARTA’s Gold line, which runs south through Buckhead, Midtown and downtown before connecting to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Read More at Atlanta Business Chronicle

NerdWallet Rates Doraville 2nd Best City To Start A Business

Georgia checks a lot of boxes for business owners. Low tax rates? Check. Ample technology infrastructure? Check. An abundance of well-educated workers? Check. Affordable cost of living? Check. Readily available support services? Check. It’s no wonder the Peach State is consistently rated as one of the best states to start a business. But deciding where to set up shop in Georgia, though, can be difficult. NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places to start a business in the state.

Doraville’s average revenue per business ($5,361,780) is second only to Alpharetta. The city’s proximity to Atlanta, major transportation routes and two of the state’s largest airports make it a prime location for businesses. Doraville is redeveloping a former General Motors plant, which closed in 2009, to serve as a business and community center dubbed “Assembly.” A movie studio, Third Rail Studios, is set to anchor part of the development, which also has ample space for retail, dining and other businesses.

Read More at NerdWallet

The Integral Group Announces Third Rail Studios
at Former General Motors Site

Third Rail Studios concept

A state-of-the-art film and television studio complex, minutes from Buckhead and Midtown, open for business 4th Quarter, 2015.

Integral’s Project Executive, Eric Pinckney, announced today the company has teamed with Capstone South Properties to begin development on Georgia’s newest film and television production studio at the site of the former GM Plant in Doraville. The first phase of construction will be an adaptive reuse of an existing 130,000 SF building to accommodate 60,000 SF of sound stages, 20,000 SF of production support plus mill shops, related vendor spaces and administrative offices. At full buildout, the media complex will be a 270,000-square-foot-facility, becoming the first film studio of its magnitude north of Atlanta and inside the I-285 Perimeter. “The creative energy of the studio environment calls out to industries in search of like-minded neighbors,” said Pinckney.

The production studio will be known as “Third Rail Studios,” a reference to the three rail lines that previously served the General Motors Doraville Assembly Plant, as well as the creative energy the media production community will bring to the development. The now defunct rail lines will be preserved and integrated within the landscape, akin to New York City’s Highline. The studios will anchor the “Yards District” portion of the site, a one-of-a-kind destination for dining, entertainment, parks, art, retail, makers, and other businesses. “The studios are just the beginning. We expect this initial phase to be a catalyst for the formation of a broader community of innovation,” said Christopher Martorella, Integral’s President of Commercial Real Estate.

The former GM site will hereinafter be referred to as “ASSEMBLY, Doraville, USA”, an acknowledgment of the site’s history as an automobile manufacturing plant, as well as its’ future as a place of community and common purpose. It also reflects the potential of this important project to knit together this part of the region as an economic node. “Urban transformation is at Integral’s core,” Martorella said. “The emergence of ASSEMBLY, the Yards District and Third Rail Studios is another example of Integral marrying high-design with high-density and connectivity. With an expected buildout of over 10 million square feet of mixed-use development over the next decade and an estimated economic impact upwards of $3 billion, we expect ASSEMBLY to be a game changer for Atlanta”.

“This will be unlike anything we’ve seen in Georgia,” said developer Michael Hahn, President of Capstone South Properties, who brings his expertise in previous studio development and business operation to the venture. “The site’s transportation history and rail yards are symbolic, as Third Rail Studios and the Yards will continue to transport creativity and content to and from the region. This is a story of remarkable transformation as the Yards District establishes itself as a true creative community for artists, film and television production companies, musicians, chefs, and others.”

As a direct result of the 2005 Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, in 2014 production companies spent close to $1.4 billion in Georgia, creating a total economic impact of $5.1 billion for the State. “During the recession, there were many property owners who were buoyed by the shorter term rentals provided by the film industry, but now that Georgia’s economy is strong, many of our ‘go to’ warehouse properties have been sold or are being occupied by long-term tenants,” said Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment division. “Georgia’s film industry is at an all-time high, so we are thrilled at The Integral Group’s plans for Third Rail Studios—dedicated soundstages and the film tax credit are essential elements for Georgia’s continued success in the film business.”

ASSEMBLY is in a designated Opportunity Zone - an added benefit to businesses located on site as those businesses will receive a $3,500 per year tax credit for 5 years for each new job created. “We could not have asked for better partners than the City of Doraville, their Mayor Donna Pittman and DeKalb County who have actively provided the support necessary to promote an environment at the site to attract jobs and businesses that will begin to transform the area,” Pinckney added.

The design for Third Rail Studios is led by Janson Tsai, a division of award-winning architectural powerhouse Perkins Eastman. Previous work includes design of Kaufman/Astoria Film Studios and Steiner Film Studios in New York, as well as projects with Imagine Films, CBS Television, NBC Universal, ESPN, Disney, and Sony – among others.

“We’re excited to bring our expertise to the design table and participate in this important project,” said Dennis Janson, Managing Principal at Jason Tsai. “Atlanta is quickly becoming a mecca for filmmaking, and I am excited to add Third Rail Studios to our portfolio.”

Third Rail’s location inside the perimeter boasts direct access to multiple forms of public transportation and major interstates as well as amenities such as food and entertainment. The studio is located just two miles from Peachtree-DeKalb Airport and 25 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Buckhead (7 miles) and Midtown (12 miles). “With the Doraville MARTA station across the street and the Chamblee station down the block, Third Rail Studios is close to everything. A prime Peachtree Road location will make it convenient for production company workers and vendors to get to and from the studios.” Hahn added.

Third Rail Studios is slated to open for business during the fourth quarter of 2015. For more information on Third Rail Studios and up-to-date news on the latest developments, please visit the official website at