Georgia picks UK company to manage hundreds of state building leases

Georgia has hired a British real estate company to bargain for better deals on its behalf for the hundreds of buildings the state leases.

The State Properties Commission last week hired Savills to manage about 1,200 leases covering more than 12 million square feet, according to the contract. Savills will be paid through landlord commissions and not by the state.

The leases range from technical college classroom buildings to Division of Family & Children Services offices for case workers. One of the priciest leases is for the Department of Transportation headquarters in Midtown, which costs $6.7 million per year.

Industry experts have said state personnel typically aren’t familiar with updated market pricing for real estate, so it makes sense for the state to hire a private firm to handle those negotiations.

Savills, headquartered in London, had previously co-managed the leases with rival real estate firm Cresa. But Cresa dropped out of the running last year for the contract renewal.

The state had planned to approve the new contract last year, but the pandemic delayed the final decision.

Savills was chosen over bids submitted by three global firms, and two locally based companies, T. Dallas Smith & Co. in Atlanta and The Norton Agency in Gainesville.

The contract could run through June 2025 if Georgia exercises all of the one-year extension options, said Frank Smith, deputy executive director of the State Properties Commission.