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ATLANTA-Arthur M. Blank, retired co-chairman of locally based Home Depot Inc., has selected Piazza at Paces in the Buckhead district for the new permanent headquarters of the non-profit Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

The three-story, 40,000-sf building will have a 120-space underground parking garage and adjacent private and public gardens. The garage will break ground this summer with an anticipated completion date of late 2002. Construction on the office building is expected to start in 2003 with a 2004 targeted completion date.

The entire project is still in the design stage and foundation officials could not give GlobeSt.com an estimated hard construction cost. But construction industry estimators who have worked on comparable Buckhead area projects tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity that the planned class A office building can’t be done today for under $150 per sf or roughly $6 million. The garage could be built for $10,000 per space or an estimated $1.2 million.

Locally based AMB Group is the joint developer on the entire project and will be the only other tenant in the foundation’s building. AMB provides investment management and administrative support for the Blank family estate and the Blank Family Foundation.

The foundation is leasing 12,000 sf on the sixth floor of the 212,000-sf Forum office building on the northeastern edge of the Piazza. Foundation officials wouldn’t disclose the rent figure, but area brokers working the Buckhead submarket tell GlobeSt.com the estimated rent is $25 per sf.

The foundation is expected to stay at the Forum for at least three years or until its new headquarters are completed. That would give the lease an estimated aggregate value of $900,000.

The foundation lease boosts the Forum’s occupancy to 70%. Other tenants are Bowen Hanes & Co., CGR Advisors, CM Allen, Greenberg Traurig law firm, Right Consulting and Southeast Capital Partners. CNM Associates manages the Forum.

In a prepared statement, Blank, a foundation trustee, says he feels the Piazza location is the best in Atlanta for his project. “The developers of the Piazza at Paces share my commitment to quality and excellence,” Blank says.

In response, Bob Anderson, president of Ronus Inc., the primary backer of Piazza at Paces, says in the same release, “the Blank Family Foundation and the Piazza are an excellent match in terms of architectural quality.”

The exterior design of the foundation’s building is being done by Surber Barber Choate & Hartlein. Interior design is being handled by Culpepper, McAuliffe and Meaders. Design and construction management is the responsibility of Darden & Co. Norman Askins is a design consultant.

The 16-year-old Blank Family Foundation helps young men and women to become more aware of local cultural and community issues.

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