'We're not going anywhere': Cumberland touts 35 years of development

Mar. 5—CUMBERLAND — Leaders from Cobb's most prosperous business district took a victory lap Thursday, celebrating 35 years since the formation of the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID).

Looking over the region from TKE Elevator's headquarters, a series of talks outlined the progress Cumberland's made in decades past and what's to come.

Speakers pitched Cumberland as one of the most economically diverse areas in metro Atlanta, boasting cultural, recreational, business, and entertainment attractions alike.

"Over the past decade, Cumberland has evolved from a nine-to-five business district to a thriving community and entertainment destination," said Kim Menefee, executive director of the CID.

Part of that expansion of offerings, officials said, is Cumberland's move toward more recreation opportunities and trails like the Cumberland Sweep shuttle and trail system.

"A lot of our residents are hoping to leave their cars behind after they leave work, or on the weekends, and to provide this opportunity to get from all these great places we've discussed today safely on a beautiful path," said Matt Teague of Walton Communities.

Ann Honious, superintendent of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, said the millions of visitors the river sees every year has been a boon for the region.

"I've always liked working with communities that are around national parks because I think we benefit each other," Honious said.

Real estate executives in the area, meanwhile, said they're still navigating how to make commercial office space a viable enterprise in the post-COVID world.

Chad Koenig, an executive with commercial real estate firm Cushman Wakefield, said companies "want to get their people into the office, and so a regular commodity building just doesn't cut it anymore. So they're looking for buildings that have really rich amenities in the building. They're looking for buildings that are walkable."

The push toward offices that offer more than cubicles and board rooms is partially driven by a generational divide, said Nancy Juneau, CEO of Juneau Construction.

"You go to college, you live on campus, and then if you're lucky enough, you might live off campus and you have these amazing amenities. So these kids are believing I need these amenities when I get out into the workforce," she said.

One local case is Truist's relocation of its Buckhead headquarters to The Battery Atlanta. Braves Development Company CEO Mike Plant said employees now want perks like beer gardens and fitness centers within their office complex.

"They made it very clear to us — we have to highly amenitize this office," he said.

Plant added that the Battery finds itself in a strong enough position now that the Braves can be selective in who they invite into their enviable environs. He recalled the first talks with TKE about relocating to the Battery, in which the firm said it planned to bring about 50 employees.

"And I said no, we're not doing that. That doesn't make any sense for us," Plant said. "...We were in a position to say no ... We're not just going to throw a bunch of assets on the table — and no disrespect to my other development friends — we're here for 30 years. We're not going anywhere."