ATLANTA-And we all thought New York was the only city that never sleeps. Apparently 24-hour cities are the place to be for the many flocking back to intown living and for real estate investors. In its sixth annual report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2001, Lend Lease and PricewaterhouseCooper rate leading U.S. cities for commercial property investment.

The study rates 24-hour city San Francisco tops, followed closely by New York and Boston, with Los Angeles and Washington, DC on their heels. Atlanta, which ranks 12th, is one of the 9-to-5 cities in the same category with Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas and Detroit.

Investors do well in Atlanta, the study notes, but view the market as more risky than a 24-hour city, where demand often outstrips supply. Twenty-four-hour cities with an exciting center city combination of residential, business, capital, entertainment and shopping head the list.

Add to that mix, interesting topographic features and neighborhoods with character, the infrastructure for technology, mass transportation, lowered crime rates and an immigration population for the labor pool. Investors also like cities where supply is limited by geographic features, thus forcing a concentration in an urban core.

While Downtown Atlanta may die after 5 o’clock, the streets, shops and restaurants are usually humming in Midtown and Buckhead. These two areas, about two miles and eight miles, respectively, north on Peachtree Street from center city, are the new “urban nodes” or “subcities,” according to the report.

They are becoming subcities with a 24-hour character offering good residential, office, retail and multi-faceted amenities.” In addition, according to the report, new apartments also help uptown Buckhead flourish as one of the nation’s best subcities. Midtown has strong prospects for establishing 24-hour neighborhoods, if retail can be developed alongside new high-rise apartments, the study says.

The rapid rail system, MARTA is a boon to both Midtown and Buckhead, providing an alternative to cars in Atlanta’s increasingly terrible traffic, and mixed-use developments are beginning to be developed around some stations. Overall, Emerging Trends cautions that the future of Atlanta rests in curbing sprawl, stopping a proposed outer-ring perimeter highway and dealing with infrastructure weaknesses.

Emerging Trends is based on interviews with more than 150 leading real estate authorities, according to Lend Lease.

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