Developers team again in north Fulton

MARIA SAPORTA
Published on: 06/30/05
Bob Voyles, who headed the Southeast division for Hines before going out on his own nearly a year ago, is teaming with Adam Orkin to develop 260 acres in north Fulton.

The duo worked together and formed a close friendship when Hines was developing Deerfield Park, a 550-acre project in Alpharetta. The Orkin family, which sold its pest control business in 1964, purchased the north Fulton property in the mid-1980s.

“Adam has been a good steward of his family’s assets,” said Voyles on Wednesday, adding that the two have a similar vision on how to develop the property, which is worth about $40 million.

The first phase of the joint venture between Voyles’ company, Seven Oaks, and Orkin’s company, Devin Properties, will be a 32-acre, mixed-use neighborhood near the Deerfield community. The real estate team is seeking approval from the Fulton County Commission next week to build 256 residential units with 56,000 square feet of office and retail space.

“This is a first step of what I think will be a long-term relationship,” Orkin said. “I think we are going to do some great things on the Atlanta landscape.”

Orkin said he and Voyles shared a love of gardening and both wanted to develop environmentally friendly, traditional neighborhoods where walking is a key mode of transportation. He hopes they will be able to break ground on the first phase by the end of the year.

For Voyles, this is his first major venture since leaving Hines. But he said he was exploring other opportunities for infill, mixed-use developments both in suburban and urban communities.

Shaken tourism agency regroups

The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau is becoming more and more businesslike every day. Many of the reforms stem from Atlanta’s embarrassing loss of the National Association of Home Builders convention.

After an ACVB employee sent out an e-mail to hotels concerning rates they would charge during the Home Builders show in 2007 and 2008, Home Builders officials — already looking to move the show out of Atlanta — used the episode as a reason to pull the convention. The incident highlighted the need for tighter procedures in ACVB operations.

ACVB Chairman Vicki Escarra said Wednesday that a board committee had been formed to work with the firm, Performance Management of Washington, to review “principles, policies and practices.”

The people on the committee are Escarra as chairwoman; Ken Bernhardt, a Georgia State University marketing professor; Atlanta businessman Thomas Dortch; Michael Robison, ACVB chairman-elect and CEO of Lanier Parking; George Sands of KPMG-Atlanta office; John Knapp, president of the Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics; Joe Hinsley, general manager of the Hyatt Regency; Vicki Gordon, general manager of the Intercontinental Hotel; and Jim Cox, an executive with Presenting Atlanta.

ACVB President Spurgeon Richardson also will be involved with the governance committee.

“While I think we run a businesslike organization, we can always do better,” Richardson said. “I’m confident that we will learn from this experience and do even a better job.”

One key lesson from the experience is to have full communication between the bureau and the board. In the case of the e-mail, it was sent on Tuesday, Feb. 22, but Escarra wasn’t informed of it until Monday, April 11.

“I did not know that we were losing the Home Builders account until the week it was announced,” she said. “We were not notified in a timely enough manner in order to do much about it.”

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin also was disappointed she didn’t know about the problem earlier. She was informed on Thursday, April 14, and she immediately got on a plane the next morning to Washington to meet with convention officials.

“There’s no question in my mind that the more time we have to solve a problem collectively, especially on a major piece of business, the better off we will be,” Franklin said. “I don’t know if we would have won, but we would have felt better about it.”

Junior Achievement proudly practical

At its annual meeting last Friday, Junior Achievement of Georgia said it was able to reach more than 90,000 students statewide during its 2004-2005 fiscal year.

Junior Achievement seeks to teach students about the economics of life, from balancing a checkbook to learning about business practices.

The organization also elected its new officers: Alex Patterson of Alston & Bird will serve as the new chairman; Ralph de la Vega of Cingular Wireless will be vice chairman; Jon Letzler of Russell Corp. will be secretary; and Joe Reinkemeyer of PricewaterhouseCoopers will be treasurer.