By John Ruch
Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell tried out his new millennials-embracing pitch on one of the community’s old-school audiences, the Buckhead 50 Club, at the group’s May 10 dinner at American Legion Post 140 in Chastain Park.
“As homeowners, as individuals, what I’m saying is, don’t see [the new renters] as second-class citizens,” said Massell to a largely quiet response from the 84-year-old social and civic club’s men-only membership whose average age is reportedly north of 60.
For those among the Buckhead 50 who weren’t racing out to bike to a collaborative workspace and meet some millennials, Massell—a former Atlanta mayor—also touched on the 2017 mayoral campaign and the fate of Southern hospitality.
In a speech to the Buckhead Business Association last month, Massell debuted his challenging pitch about embracing the thousands of renters coming as a result of Buckhead’s apartment boom. He repeated the key points to the Buckhead 50 with some updated numbers: 49 apartment complexes proposed or underway with 15,266 total units.
“We’ll have a large supply of newcomers that will be in our community as strangers,” said Massell, adding they will seek to patronize or work at a variety of businesses, including, “yes, upscale nightlife.”
With maybe 25,000 young renters coming to Buckhead, Massell advised the club members, “Don’t fight it. Don’t think you can avoid it.” Instead, he said Buckhead’s older homeowners should welcome the new generation’s “profile of power” as future leaders.
“I know you have mixed feelings about what I told you,” Massell said to the quiet response, though it appeared some response may have been muted simply because audience members already knew his speech from prior media coverage. However, one member did ask how to “nurture” the quality of life for Buckhead’s new millennials, with Massell recommending support for Buckhead Coalition initiatives.
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