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ATLANTA-The metro area’s 167.5-million-sf retail market is expected to grow as new evolving trends show customer demand for retail services is broadening, according to a report prepared by the Retail Services Group of Colliers Spectrum Cauble.

Caldwell Zimmerman, executive vice president and principal, and Jeremy Greenwell, an associate and consultant, provided data for the analysis, one of the few reports surfacing on the area’s ballooning retail market. The report notes urban residential growth is fueling demand for street-level retail as obsolete properties are demolished or recycled. “City planners are recognizing the value of retail for revitalization projects,” the study states. There is “upward pressure on land price for closer-in properties.”

The overall average vacancy rate at year-end 2005 stood at 7.9%. Net absorption totaled 2.35 million sf with deliveries coming in at 2.6 million sf. Under construction was another four million sf. The average quoted gross rent was $14.25 per sf, triple net. Shopping centers housing specialty retailers were quoting twice that rental figure, other area retail brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

By submarket, West Atlanta is showing the highest vacancy at 12%; Buckhead the lowest at 3.5%. Vacancies at other markets are Southwest Atlanta, 11%; Southeast Atlanta, 10.5%; Central Atlanta, 8.5%; Northwest Atlanta, 7.5%; GA 400 North, 7.3%; Northeast Atlanta and East Atlanta, both at 6%; Central Perimeter, 5%.

The report notes Henry County, 35 miles south of Downtown Atlanta, will continue to see a wave of new retail development this year as it prepares to welcome its first movie theater. Great Escape Theaters LLC, owned by Alliance Enterprises Inc. of New Albany, IN, is scheduled to open a 16-screen theater with 3,100 stadium-style seats in November, a year later than it had previously planned to open, as GlobeSt.com reported May 21, 2004.

The 19-acre theater site is at the northeast corner of Jonesboro Road and Interstate 75 in McDonough. Colliers Spectrum Cauble’s Zimmerman brokered that land deal, as GlobeSt.com also previously reported.

Zimmerman says in the report that Alliance Entertainment president Anne Ragains “believes Henry County can support a theater with its current and projected population growth.” The broker says “other restaurants and retail tenants are expected to be part of the overall development once it is completed.” The US Census ranks Henry County as the sixth fastest-growing county in the US with a surging population of 150,000.

In Downtown Atlanta, the November 2005 opening of the Georgia Aquarium already is generating new interest in various retail projects for the central business district, the Colliers Spectrum Cauble report states. The aquarium is expected to attract two million visitors in its first operating year alone, the report projects.

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