$11.5M Renovation Budget to Build the Ultimate Atlanta Tech Village

When Urvaksh asked me in early December 2012 about the renovation budget for the 103,000 sq ft Atlanta Tech Village, I naively said $4.5 million. At the time, my thinking was that we’d spend $60/sq ft to do 40,000 sq ft of cool startup space and then spend $2M for common space renovations (atrium, lobbies, bathrooms, etc). After going through the design process, refining the vision, and getting price quotes, it was clear that it would be significantly more expensive to achieve the desired outcome.

During the beta opening of the Village, we also realized that there was more demand than expected for entrepreneur space in the community and that our existing traditional tenants didn’t like the new building demographic. As a result, we decided to work out all the existing tenants and move forward with a full building renovation in stages over the course of 12 months, instead of the previous goal of doing it over five years.

Now, with our first full floor renovation complete, and all the hard costs, soft costs, and unexpected costs identified, it’s clear that we’re looking at a $11.5M renovation and fully loaded costs for the office space running $90/sq ft. Here’s the list of major expenses, several of which we didn’t factor in originally:

  • Architect’s fees
  • Construction costs
  • Building modernization – new mechanical, new elevators, etc
  • Furniture – 600+ desks, chairs, etc
  • Building-wide wireless network – 100+ high-end access points
  • Security system
  • Audio / visual equipment for conference center
  • 150+ 50″ LED TVs

atlanta tech village corner suite

After seeing the completed 4th floor, it’s totally worth it. Our goal is to build the ultimate community to start and grow successful tech companies, and doing it with a 20-year horizon is absolutely the best approach.

What else? What are your thoughts on spending more money to deliver the best facility?

7 thoughts on “$11.5M Renovation Budget to Build the Ultimate Atlanta Tech Village

  1. As I recall, you originally eschewed new construction. Had you had better visibility into where actual renovation costs end up, would you have more seriously considered building something new?

    • I still think renovation is much better for us compared to new construction. The cost to acquire the 103,000 sq ft building and land was almost half the replacement value because it’s expensive poured concrete frame with 9 foot floor-to-ceiling windows.

  2. Awesome the way ATV has added “startup energy” to the metro area! Applause for putting your money in and taking the long term view. I am looking forward to the entire building being complete.

  3. David,

    The ATV is one huge step in the right direction for the ATL! Cudos to you for having the vision and courage to pull it off! We are thrilled to be a small part of it!

  4. Building the ultimate tech village. I have seen a bunch of these around the world from Melbourne to Hong Kong to the valley. I am not sure your goals of the village over a 20 year horizon. I like to begin with the end in mind and use something called endpoint visualization. In 20 year is it to add 1 million new jobs and seed 1000 companies. Are all of the companies going to be found in Atlanta or are you using a biz attraction program to get companies to come there. In Whistler BC they are building a little tech ecosystem and attracting engineers by pitching it as adventurengineering. In Victoria BC canada they have a tech village and ecosystem and building it to accomodate lifestyle that presents itself on the island (mountainbiking, hiking, fishing, skiiing etc…)

    So in Atlanta building a tech ecosystem. To me and speaking from experience having built Entrepreneurs’ organization as first staff guy and 20 years of growth – its not so much about the physical space and lay out but more about whats around it….. who’s your advisors to the tech deal, the mentors, the way this tech village will drive connections and contacts to accelerate those biz quickly. These tech companies….. sometimes the difference between doubling and tripling the biz is a connection.

    If this tech village is not thinking global…..and building awareness that someone in China is probably working on the same tech company and could be in your background yesterday or India. I am a Canuck… and a a trading nation of raw materials…you grow up thinking globally. Tech village can just be about atlanta…. has to be thinking global… and that could imply global maps around the village…. etc… to elevate people’s thinking.

    In addition I think if tech villages can adopt a cause beyond just spitting out great tech companies and have some overarching cause it is mobilizing that is exciting. maybe it is job creation, mayb

    Finally one of my portfolio companies I work with is the thomas edison innovation fund and organization. Edison was the ultimate entrepreneur having started 100 companies before he was 40 and inventing 3 major industries. his inventions today still account for 15% of the gdp. The edison group is charge with restoring edison artifacts and expanding edison legacy.

    Having toured his invention factory multiple times… his factory is the original tech village and how it was set out. open office…… edison had his office and desk and above his desk was cubby holes (30 of them which were entitled new ideas) but more than that what he allowed on a regular basis was to have anyone to come in and try their hand at invention…… perhaps you devote an area of the tech village for bright high school students to come and try their hand at programing, coding, invention. they get hand picked…. perhaps. Edison made the factory fun and had big band nights…. and even a pet bear walking around.

    Dean

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