Business stories of the week: Amazon, 2018 priorities, Phipps Plaza

3:56 p.m Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 Business
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite in Santa Monica, California, on Thursday, September 6, 2012. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

The week had no shortage of business headlines among Atlanta area companies – or perhaps companies that want to become Atlanta area companies.

From the Amazon second headquarters search to major development projects, here are some of the big business headlines you might have missed from the past week.

Amazon HQ2

Georgia and Atlanta area economic development officials like to fancy the Atlanta region as a top contender among the 238 bids for Amazon’s second headquarters and its 50,000 high-paying jobs. Two recent surveys seemed to back that up.

The Wall Street Journal ranked Atlanta in a tie for third with Washington, D.C., in their ratings of top cities to land the $5 billion headquarters project. Sperling’s Best Places, meanwhile, ranked Atlanta as the city to beat for the project called HQ2.

Ben Gray/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Could downtown Atlanta’s Gulch near Philips Arena be a tempting location for Amazon’s second headquarters? Ben Gray /

Amazon’s wish list includes enough land to expand its campus to 8 million square feet, proximity to a major international airport, direct transit and major highway connections and a metropolitan area of at least 1 million people.

Using the factors contained in Amazon’s request for proposals, “interviews with site selection experts and people familiar with Amazon’s thinking,” the Journal and Green Street Advisors found Dallas and Boston to be the top contenders. Atlanta was found to be the “most Seattle-like” of the contenders, along with Chicago and Denver, with Atlanta getting high marks for cost of living, culture fit and tech labor force.

Sperling’s Best Places, meanwhile, analyzed 18 published rankings of where HQ2 should go to create what it called a “super-study,” that put Atlanta on top followed by Boston and Chicago.

Chamber priorities

On Thursday, the Metro Atlanta Chamber unveiled its priorities for 2018. At the top were transit expansion, workforce training and emphasizing economic mobility.

Bob Andres/
11/16/17 - Atlanta - Russell Stokes, the CEO of GE Power, addresses the group. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting on Thursday on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Speakers included Metro Atlanta Chamber President and CEO Hala Moddelmog, Intercontinental Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher, Russell Stokes, the CEO of GE Power, Arthur Blank, Steve Cannon, Mayor Kasim Reed and David Abney, Chairman and CEO of UPS. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The chamber also unveiled THEA, a new streaming video service to highlight Atlanta’s cultural touchstones. The idea is use THEA to highlight what Atlanta is and sell young professionals on moving to Atlanta to start their careers.

Some 15 companies have signed on and thus far created more than 130 videos covering topics such as Atlanta food, entertainment, music, technology and the startup scene.

The videos include documentary and scripted content. THEA, developed by Atlanta-based over-the-top video distributor Endavo, is available on Apple iOS and Android devices and will soon stream over Roku and AppleTV. It’s also available at the website,

Chamber officials said the organization will work to protect the state’s top business ratings, pass pro-business legislation and ward off possible state legislation in next year’s session that business leaders say will hurt the state’s reputation. This includes so-called religious liberty or religious exemption laws that opponents say are discriminatory to the LGBT community.

Phipps Plaza makeover 

On Tuesday, Simon, the owner of Phipps Plaza, announced a major overhaul for its tony Buckhead shopping complex. The mall owner said it will develop a Nobu hotel and flagship restaurant, a new 12-story office tower and a multi-story Life Time Athletic fitness center.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A rendering shows a new 12-story office tower, Nobu hotel and restaurant and a 60,000-square-foot Life Time fitness complex. SPECIAL from Simon

Nobu is a famed restaurant and luxury lodging group whose founding investors are actor and director Robert De Niro, film producer Meir Teper, renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa and well-known New York restaurateur Drew Nieporent.

The $200 million-plus project is expected to start in the summer and be completed in 2020. It will replace the Belk story, which is expected to close by the middle of 2018. The Belk workers will be offered the ability to transfer to other stores, a Belk official said.

Mercedes-Benz USA HQ

Mercedes-Benz USA’s relocation from New Jersey to the Atlanta area was one of the most buzzed about Georgia business stories of the past few years. On Monday, the automaker showed the media the progress on its new $93 million headquarters campus in Sandy Springs, which CEO Dietmar Exler said will have its debut in March on-time and under budget.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
11-13-2017 - Sandy Springs, GA - Dietmar Exler (center), 49, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, gives members of the press a tour of the future Mercedes-Benz USA headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia, on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. The site, which is currently under construction, is expected to be finished late in the first quarter of 2018. (CASEY SYKES, CASEY.SYKES@AJC.COM)

The project features essentially a pair of three-story office buildings joined by a grand glass atrium. The campus comprises more than 200,000 square feet of office space on 12 acres, and features a conference center, child care facility, cafeteria, coffee bar and a walking trail.

The complex will eventually house about 1,000 jobs.