Kirk Demetrops brought Main Street to the suburbs

Like many cities, Alpharetta had to adapt.


For decades, the expansion of regional shopping centers stole the vibrancy of its main street. Merchants struggled to thrive, as downtowns became a pass-through on the way to the stores and restaurants at suburban regional malls.


Today, it’s a much different story.


In the age of Amazon, what once involved driving to your favorite store to shop now takes just a moment on your smart phone or laptop. For Atlanta’s largest owners of retail space such as DDR Corp. and Simon Property Group, it’s been a challenge to keep their projects relevant.


For cities such as Alpharetta, it’s created an opportunity for rebirth. People want to spend time again in once forgotten downtowns. Some visit new restaurants popping up on town squares.


Others take advantage of new greenways and open spaces.


A little over four years ago, Kirk Demetrops, founder of Atlanta MidCity Real Estate Partners, pursued a new project called Alpharetta City Center. Demetrops assembled a development team that included South City Partners, Morris & Fellows and Hedgewood Homes.


Today, the project includes 75,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, 36,000 square feet of office, 168 apartments and 42 single family homes — a “mini-town” that brought Main Street back to life.


“Demand has been phenomenal,” Demetrops said. “Alpharetta, deservedly so, set a high bar for us. “The partners I brought in really delivered spectacular product. Most of the project is 100-percent leased or owned, including a corporate headquarters and eclectic group of retailers and restauranteurs.”


MidCity, which has developed more traditional office projects along Georgia 400, continues to look for more opportunities for downtown redevelopments. Demetrops joins a number of developers, architects and urban designers that are bringing new, walkable projects to the region.


What led you to your career?  I started my real estate career one month after graduating from undergrad, celebrating 30 years in the business earlier this year. Initially, I thought the industry was compelling by combining business/finance to a hard asset. As my career transitioned to development 20 years ago, I really found that I could use my “visual” strength as person to lead the creation and execution of a development/redevelopment.

Who has been your greatest influence in your career or job? In 2000, Joel Griffin met with me (and my partner at the time) and offered to buy our company, Forum Realty. Forum was early in Atlanta, with the idea of redevelopment and going back in town to look at opportunities. Joel gave us the backing and infrastructure, and let us go to work. We did interesting deals all over, from Grant Park to Alpharetta. Joel had many tremendous qualities, but I mostly remember his positive attitude, which was infectious.

What has been your biggest challenge? The development business is cyclical, and the Great Recession certainly emphasized that reality. However, I think our biggest challenge is time. The deals we are pursuing are complicated, with many moving parts and partners. Many take two to four years to put together. This adds a significant level of additional risk.

What has been your most rewarding moment in your career? As a developer, we get to see our end product and can look back at the steps taken to get there. I really like figuring out the form and function of a development, the right mix. I consider MidCity a “custom” developer that brings a unique solution to the development/redevelopment of a property.

In the 1990s, so much development in North Fulton was clustered along Georgia 400. How does the city-center trend in Alpharetta, Duluth, Suwanee, etc. underscore important changes in suburban Atlanta land use patterns? I think everyone wants a walkable environment that is visually pleasing and offers a sense of community. In the 1980’s, I, personally, drove to Virginia-Highlands for that atmosphere. Today, many people can now enjoy this environment in their nearest city center. This is long overdue, as we all have seen or visited similar cities in the northeast and/or abroad.

What have suburban cities/developers learned about the value of open space and connections to greenways in their new mixed-use projects? Developers have learned that they create immense demand for their projects, thus a significant increase in values. Ultimately, the quality of life is elevated for the citizens and consumers of that area.

What are a few of your favorite downtowns or neighborhoods in metro Atlanta to get out of your car and take a walk? Aside from now Alpharetta City Center, I have always liked Piedmont Park and the areas that surround the park. I really like Inman Park as well, so with the Atlanta Beltline connecting those two areas, that whole stretch is just great.


This article was originally published in the Atlanta Business Chronical on December 14th, 2019 and is written by Douglas Sams. To read the article as originally published, click here.