Marketing Communications showcased developers and retailers who were "doing it right" with featured coverage in the Milestone newsletter.  This story on commercial remodels is one example.


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Makeovers Make Good Cents on Main Street

For the Milestone Newsletter and Web Site  - September 2001


Sidebar:  Sandy Springs Revitalization programs like the Roswell Road Streetscape Program, the Maintenance Program and the  Livable Centers Plan are creating an environment that can mean more traffic for business and better rents for property owners.  Now private businesses are responding with their own creativity and vision for business district revitalization.


In the beauty products industry the makeover has become a highly profitable market niche.  At the NSeya Salon and Spa you can get your hair cut, colored, and conditioned; have a therapeutic manicure or a revitalizing facial; try out the latest shades of lip gloss and eye shadow; or lie back and enjoy a stress reducing massage with aromatic oils blended from the vital essences of real flowers and plants.  Customers come away feeling relaxed, renewed, rejuvenated.  Today savvy property owners are recognizing that the architectural equivalent of a personal makeover -- renovation -- can be a profitable option as well when compared to new construction.


NSeya opened in June at 6090 Roswell Road in an older freestanding two-story structure that was once used for offices, but had been vacant for over a year.  The building’s reincarnation as a beauty spa is a reflection of the philosophy of Adam Orkin and Deas Nealy, partners in Devin Properties, LLC.  The Alpharetta based firm owns and develops commercial and residential properties in metro Atlanta and in the mountains of North Carolina.


Both Orkin and Nealy grew up in Sandy Springs.  They were teenage observers during those years when the Roswell Road commercial strip seemed to go into a back slide.  Adam became an active member of Sandy Springs Revitalization, and currently serves as president of the Sandy Springs Business Association.  With three other properties currently in varying stages of remodeling and construction, Orkin and Nealy are pleased that they can now play an active role in the community’s comeback. 


 “We try to differentiate ourselves with quality architecture and professionally designed landscaping,” says Orkin.  “Our projects have a timeless element – we want people to be proud to have us as their neighbor.  We believe a little thought and creativity on the front end will generate a better quality return.  This is just the type of cleanup- fix up-paint up that any viable business should be able to afford.”


The Devin properties are older freestanding buildings located within the Main Street walking district.  All four exhibit a characteristic use of quality materials -- fresh paint, stacked stone, new windows, lush landscaping -- to give that distinctive village look and feel that Devin is going for. Two of the properties, NSeya and Embers, emphasized cosmetic rather than structural changes.  For their efforts the Sandy Springs Business Association and Keep Sandy Springs North Fulton Beautiful will recognize Devin Properties with the Evergreen Business Award at the September SSBA meeting.


According to Sandy Springs commercial realtor Joe Kyle of Kyle Realty, “Some owners spend as little as they can to make as much as they can.  We have a high quality of consumer living in Sandy Springs and in the region, and we can’t afford to have that wealth leaving Sandy Springs and shopping somewhere else,” says Kyle.  The SSRI/SSBA Market Study completed earlier this year by Morris & Fellows, Inc. affirms Kyle’s assertion.  The study found that the Sandy Springs business district currently services one of the most affluent and desirable Trade Areas in the entire country, and if we will just “build it” our customers will make Sandy Springs their destination.


Kyle adds that when property owners like Adam and Deas upgrade a building, they’re recognizing that revitalization is simply good business.  Says Kyle, “Think of it as putting cheese in the mousetrap for a prospective tenant. They are looking to attract something different for which there is a need.  And once you get a successful business, duplication will follow.”  SSRI General Manager John Cheek echoes that sentiment.  “The real costs are in vacancies and re-leasing.  The best payback for any owner is a successful tenant that stays in their space.”


Most properties have great potential for a successful facelift, and even minor cosmetic improvements can go a long way toward attracting and retaining quality tenants.  Improvements, especially to freestanding buildings, have a real impact on the visual appeal of the street.  If the street looks better, it will make all types of development, including residential development, possible.  Here is some advice from successful renovators on how to get the most out of your remodeling dollar:


  • Choose quality materials such as brick, stone or clapboard siding. People respond to materials you might find on a house;

  • Landscape parking lots and frontage along the street;  install landscaping to compliment signage;

  • Add an architectural element such as columns or archway;

  • Replace broken windows with windows that are more architecturally pleasing.

  • Generate curb appeal by creating an enticing storefront display geared to attract walkers;

  • Alternate the roof  line of that strip center to create what appears to be smaller, distinct buildings.  Break up the facades to distinguish tenant spaces with varying materials;


The success of remodels is testimony that makeovers make good cents. Says  Cheek, “We’re trying to create an urban village in the heart of Sandy Springs.  That implies we are going to retain a smaller scale character, and that we are going to retain some diversity in our physical character as well as our social character.  Even though we need to see some assemblage and investments in major redevelopment, we must also find positive ways to reuse our existing fabric if we’re going to achieve the results we’re looking for.  We will have to accommodate and foster smaller scale redevelopment to achieve the character we want and to build and environment where major investors will come in and do some large-scale redevelopment.”

1) Devin Properties converted this 5,500 sq. foot former office space at 6090 Roswell Road to retail. Landscape architects Roy Ashley & Assoc. created the landscape design.  (2) The “after” treatment features new windows and doors, improved outdoor lighting, a newly paved parking lot, natural looking stacked stone patio with flagstone walkways flanked by flowers and ornamental wrought iron railings.  (3)  How about a morning at the spa and then lunch?  With NSeya just next door, this property at 6080 Roswell Road will make an excellent restaurant or retail destination.  Devin Properties is adding a glazed atrium entry to compliment characteristic stacked stone and landscaping.  (4) Embers Restaurant, located at 234 Hilderbrand Dr. also got the “Devin” treatment – new paint, paved parking lot stacked stone and landscaping. Owners Terri & Jeff Mattison completed their interior remodel early last winter just in time to host the SSBA Christmas party.