Cox to build 19-story tower in Sandy Springs

Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises said Friday it will build a 19-story building at its Sandy Springs campus, one of the few major developments in metro Atlanta amid a still sluggish commercial real estate market.

The company, whose holdings include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, plans to use the nearly 578,000-square-foot building to house the corporate staff of its Cox Communications subsidiary. It comes months after the completion of another nearby complex that houses technology operations for Cox Communications.

Marybeth Leamer, a Cox Enterprises executive vice president, said the new building will allow “enhanced collaboration and help us prepare for future needs and growth.” Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013, and the building will open in 2015.

The tower would be one of only a few large office buildings completed in Atlanta in recent years.

“It’s a harbinger of things to come because we’ve seen no significant speculative development in close to four years in a city of nearly 6 million people,” said Ken Ashley, an executive director with real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and it seems that Cox is one of the first to enter the build-to-suit arena.”

Two other corporations are working on similar projects. Primerica is developing a 345,000 square-foot office building in Duluth. And Porsche plans a new U.S. headquarters at the Aerotropolis site near the airport.

Cox has consolidated several of its offices across metro Atlanta to its Central Park campus, a roughly 29-acre complex on the east side of Peachtree Dunwoody Road in Sandy Springs. Cox Enterprises’ 16-story headquarters was completed there in 2001, and the AJC moved two years ago to office space nearby. AutoTrader.com’s offices also recently moved to the area.

“Our goal always is to find long-term solutions that bring employees together who are located in multiple work sites,” said Leamer. “And now we have that opportunity for Cox Communications.”

It’s one of only a handful of new office towers built in the metro area in recent years. Only eight office buildings over 10 stories have been built in metro Atlanta since mid-2009, according to the CoStar Group real estate services firm. Most were planned before the recession devastated the office market.

Still unresolved is what will happen to a nearby facility at Lake Hearn Drive where Cox Communications’ corporate operations are now located. Cox officials say the site’s future is being determined.

Cox is working with Cousins Properties, Holder Construction, Duda/Paine and HKS Architects to develop the new facility. Those firms also worked with Cox to complete the complex that opened earlier this year on the company’s corporate campus.

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