Voyles changing landscape of Perimeter market

By JANET JONES KENDALL
The Atlanta Business Chronicle
Published on: 02/24/06

One of the first things Bob Voyles plans on using to decorate his new Vinings office is a picture he received from his father nearly 30 years ago. On it is the mantra by which Voyles tries to live each day of his personal and professional life.

“It says, ‘Look ahead where the horizons are absolutely unlimited’ — it’s a quote from Robert Gross. My dad gave this to me on my birthday back in 1978 after I graduated from law school and he wrote on it, ‘Wise men seek wisdom.’ The point of it is that you need to be looking forward and not dwell on the past,” Voyles said.

Now Voyles keeps his eye on the horizon — the Atlanta skyline, that is — from his new office in the Overlook III building on Paces Ferry Road in Vinings. That’s where he and his business partner, Trey Googe, recently relocated their Seven Oaks Company LLC — a firm that is quickly making a name for itself in Atlanta real estate.

Not that Voyles had to work too hard to make his name recognizable in the world of real estate. In fact, the 53-year-old professional started Seven Oaks after working for 16 years as a senior development officer in Atlanta for Hines, a privately owned international real estate firm. In that role, Voyles negotiated the King & Spalding LLP 15-year lease at the 1180 Peachtree tower in Midtown — the total value of which is $205 million. In addition, he led the firm’s 550-acre Deerfield Park project in Alpharetta and the three-tower Perimeter Summit site on Interstate 285.

But in 2004, Voyles decided to branch out on his own with Seven Oaks, an entrepreneurial real estate development and investment firm specializing in urban and suburban mixed-use development, traditional neighborhood development and commercial land development.

“It’s incumbent on real estate officers to leave the community a better place than they found it and one way to do that is to give back,” Voyles said.

One of the ways Voyles gives back is by serving as chairman and founding member of the DeKalb Perimeter Community Improvement District.

“You still have significant office vacancies in that market but when that space gets absorbed — and it eventually will — the traffic challenges are only going to increase,” he said. “The challenge will be to take a lead in getting road improvements along I-285 and Ga. 400, complemented with getting alternative modes of transportation.”

Voyles also has predictions for the future of the Perimeter, chiefly including an increase in residential in-fill development as a result of the area maturing as a major commercial district. He believes the area will become either the No. 1 or No. 2 largest commercial district for metro Atlanta.

“It has transportation arteries, an excellent mall and commercial district, great service infrastructure,” he said.

Many people in the Perimeter area and greater metro Atlanta have come to respect not only Voyles’ opinion, but his character. Voyles’ business partner and chief operating officer of Seven Oaks, Googe, describes Voyles as “very dynamic.”

“Bob’s style is that of a consensus builder and that makes working with him rewarding and enjoyable,” he said.

Outside of the business sphere, Voyles said he has faith that stems from his parents, as well as from business professionals and fellow church members he admired through the years.

“They don’t wear their faith on their sleeve but they live the same way every day during the week as they do on the weekend,” said Voyles, who attends a nondenominational church and describes his faith as evangelical Christian.