Cleanup continues after demolition

The demolition of the Buckhead Village has been completed and cleanup has now begun for the area that will become the Streets of Buckhead. On the ground, few signs remain as distant reminders of where favorite neighborhood haunts once stood. Currently, scraping, clearing and leveling continue to make way for change. Even buildings that will remain are getting a facelift as the Buckhead Library is closed for new carpeting installation and general renovations.

Habif, Arogeti & Wynne acquires Buckhead public accounting firm

Sandy Springs-based Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP, one of the country’s top-100 CPA firms, has completed the multi-million-dollar acquisition of Atlanta-based Miller Ray Houser & Stewart, LLP, a CPA firm offering a broad range of traditional audit and tax services.

In addition to a staff of 25 and office space at 99 West Paces Ferry Road, Habif, Arogeti & Wynne (HA&W) acquired an active client roster of approximately 2000 organizations and executives as well as more depth of experience with public companies.

All MRHS staff will eventually transition to the HA&W offices at the Glenridge Highlands location in Sandy Springs.

“Miller Ray Houser & Stewart (MRHS) is a natural fit for us, from both a business and cultural standpoint,” said Dan Simms, managing partner, HA&W. He said this will allow HA&W “to expand into additional markets with an eye on becoming the leading regulatory firm in Atlanta.”

MRHS offers a broad range of traditional audit and tax services, primarily to small and mid-market companies and their executives. The company is also very active in providing valuation services, litigation support and forensic accounting services. The MRHS client base includes SEC-registered companies, law firms, medical practices, commercial and residential real estate developers, property and casualty insurance companies, not-for-profit organizations, manufacturing and distribution, high net-worth individuals, estate and trusts and family limited partnerships.

“We are bringing together two companies with similar business philosophies and complementary industry skills and expertise,” said Wayne E. Stewart, managing partner, MRHS. “Through this transition, it will be ‘business as usual.’ We look forward to introducing our clients to the expanded capabilities that HA&W will now offer.”

HA&W’s more than 230 professionals provide financial solutions to more than 7,000 clients in a variety of industries.

Abstance joins Dorsey Alston as president

Jody Abstance has left Harry Norman Realtors to become president and managing broker of Dorsey Alston, a 60-year-old Buckhead real estate firm that has been aimed primarily at Atlanta’s luxury home market.

The 40-agent agency captured 8 percent of Atlanta’s luxury market sales so far in 2007. But Abstance, 57, feels that can be increased substantially in 2008—to more like 20 percent.

Abstance will succeed departing Dorsey Alston President Doug Mullins, who is leaving to devote himself fulltime to his custom homebuilding business.

Abstance, who has 30 years experience in the business, lives in Buckhead with his wife, Valerie.

AT&T moves employees to Buckhead

A year after its acquisition of BellSouth Corp., AT&T plans to relocate its U.S. wireless division headquarters and 1,400 employees from the Central Perimeter area to Buckhead.

Its new home will be the former BellSouth Center at Lenox Park, a five-building complex with a total of 1.1 million square feet—enough room for 2,800 AT&T employees.

The move will begin in early 2008 and is an effort to cut costs from excess office space created by the merger. It is part of a move to eliminate 1.7 million square feet the firm is not efficiently using in Atlanta. At one point, BellSouth and Cingular Wireless controlled more than 8 million square feet of office space in the Atlanta market.

AT&T’s wireless unit has been leasing some 400,000 square feet at Glenridge Highlands Two, at GA 400 and the Glenridge Connector.

Developer offering speakers on aging

Isakson Barnhart, developer of a residential community in the Peachtree Hills area of Buckhead offering a continuum of care for those age 62 and over, has launched a speakers bureau to offer its experts on aging-related topics.

Representatives from Isakson Barnhart’s executive management, marketing and nursing team, are available to speak to various civic, community and professional groups and societies, associations, churches and libraries throughout the year. Speakers are provided to organizations at no charge and can speak on a wide range of aging-related topics, such as senior housing options, age-related wellness and retirement planning.

Any organization interested in having a member of the Isakson Barnhart speakers bureau talk at their event should contact Amanda Winters at (770) 383-3360 x 27 or

2 new restaurants open at Terminus

Terminus ended the month of November with the opening of two more new restaurants, Aquaknox and MF Sushibar.

Aquaknox is a concept from e-Brands Restaurants LLC of Orlando, FL, and is only the second outpost for the upscale eatery self described as “global water cuisine.” It will fill 13,000 square feet at Terminus.

MF Sushibar is the concept of brothers Chris Kinjo and Alex Kinjo, the restaurateurs behind the Nan Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown.

MF Sushibar first opened on Ponce de Leon and was difficult to get a reservation. The new location is larger at 8,000 square feet.

Coalition seeks to preserve small retailers

The Buckhead Coalition, which normally is associated with big business and growth and development in Buchead, has taken on a campaign to preserve the small independent retailers in the community.

Speaking recently before the local education committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell explained that the mom and pop stores are disappearing in the path of Buckhead’s rapid growth and urged realtors to pay particular attention to preserving them.

“Urban America’s explosive development is seeing a loss of the individual entrepreneurs—not only to mergers and acquisitions by chains, but due to basic rental increases pricing them out of the market,” Massell said. “Every time a strip center is sold and demolished for another high-rise, we lose the beauty salon, ice cream parlor, book store, hardware business, gift shop and more.”

Massell, often referred to as the mayor of Buckhead, explained this is not only an important part of our economic fabric, but “these local operators are very important to the surrounding neighborhoods. It is really a quality of life issue.”

Massell told the group a lot has been proposed to encourage “affordable housing,” which he endorses. But the former Atlanta mayor argued that “similar thought be given to some plan to arrange “affordable retailing.”