Don’t Wait – Cast Your Vote Before Election Day!

7 10 2008

If you have chosen your candidates in the upcoming election, please vote in advance to reduce lines on election day and help ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Early voting began on September 22 in Georgia, and in the week before Election Day (Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31st), most counties will have multiple voting centers and extended hours.

To find out everything you need to know about voting in advance, by mail, and on election day (Tuesday, November 4), click here. Detailed information about voting by mail or advance voting is also available from the Georgia Secretary of State Elections Division by phone at (404) 656-2871.

‘Generation Y’ forcing home builders to rethink projects

7 10 2008


People in their 20s — Generation Y — are changing residential real estate in Atlanta.

Gen Y is “our largest current clientele. It’s our largest future clientele,” said Patrick O’Donnell, a partner in the Lane Co., a multifamily developer.  Born from 1979 to 1996, the 80 million people in Gen Y represent more than 26 percent of the U.S. population and $1.6 trillion in earning power, according to the research firm Robert Charles Lesser & Co.

By 2015, Gen Y will be more than a third of U.S residents, said James Johnson, professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Their expectations are forcing developers to rethink how projects are designed, built and sold.

In Atlanta, interest in Gen Y is particularly keen because only New York and Los Angeles rate higher as places to live, Robert Charles Lesser says. And while most Gen Y folks living on their own today are renters, in four years they’ll be a home-buying force, the company says.

O’Donnell and others spoke at a recent forum called “The Impacts of Gen Y on Real Estate Development,” sponsored by the Urban Land Institute Atlanta.

Bottom line: Many in Gen Y have little interest in the lawn mowing, cul de sac life that’s characteristic of so much of Atlanta. At least for now.

Instead, Gen Y wants high-tech convenience and communication, walkability, green building standards and diversity. They’ll sacrifice space, and some will even pay more, to incorporate those qualities into their lives, real estate experts say.

That’s good news for infill redevelopment efforts. “Intown areas and inner suburbs will really remain on an upward trajectory” when the housing market turns around, said Sarah Kirsch, senior principal at Robert Charles Lesser.

Charlie Bible, 22, bought a condominium at the top of Viewpoint, a new highrise in Midtown, because of its central location, views and the sleek steel-and-glass look. And because “I love high-tech gadgets,” he said.

Bible watches ESPN and the news on small LCD screens that are part of the fitness equipment at Viewpoint. Novare Group, the developer, also installed a virtual art gallery and an online system where residents will be able to place restaurant orders or program their thermostats from remote locations.

Upgrades at Viewpoint include built-in iPod docking stations. Gen Y already is about 40 percent of the customer base for Novare, the biggest condo developer in Atlanta.

“This is a generation that has always known a computer,” said Uri Vaknin, vice president of business development at the Marketing Directors, a condo sales company. “They want these programmed lives.”

Oakland Park, a condo building in Grant Park, boasts that it’s LEED certified, meaning it has met national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. That includes floors of bamboo — a fast-growing renewable resource — and dual-flush toilets that conserve water.

Read on here.

Smyrna couple goes green to cut energy costs

7 10 2008

When Jon and Brenda Gallagher decided to embark on a kitchen overhaul last year, they consulted Smyrna neighbor and energy-efficiency expert Matt Hoots, president of the Hoots Group. But for Hoots, a contractor specializing in EarthCraft homes, a remodel isn’t just about an attractive floorplan. He wanted to give the Gallaghers a “greenovation.”

“Because Matt is so knowledgeable about green building, we realized, ‘Oh, we can remodel and save some money, too?’” Brenda Gallagher recalled.

The project included new ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, new lighting, locally sourced cabinetry (cutting down on fuel use in transport, Hoots said), and paint low in volatile organic compounds. Hoots also installed programmable thermostats in three areas, allowing the Gallaghers to regulate heat and cooling in the rooms they use most. A crawlspace was draped in thick plastic, inhibiting humidity, odors and mold growth from seeping into the home. The couple plan to swap out old windows with energy-efficient models.

Products that carry the WaterSense and ENERGY STAR labels are certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But you don’t have to make sweeping changes in your home to save on your energy bill, said Georgia Power spokeswoman Lynn Wallace. Cutting down on costs can be as easy as swapping out old light bulbs in favor of ENERGY STAR-qualified compact fluorescent bulbs, such as the ones found throughout the Gallagher home.

“I know in this economy people don’t have a lot of extra money, but if you spend a little upfront, you’ll save money in the longterm,” she said.

Not sure where to begin conserving energy in your home? Wallace said Georgia Power customers can request a free energy audit of their home with an ENERGY STAR expert.

Read on here.