Porsche is expected to move its North American headquarters, and hundreds of jobs the plant provides the northern Georgia suburb it currently calls home, from Sandy Springs to the old Ford plant site near the Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.
Porsche is expected to build offices where the plant was demolished and a test track similar to its Porsche Silverstone facility in England.
Fulton County Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards said Hapeville’s mayor and city council have been working hard to fill the plant site and it makes good economic sense for Porsche, with the site’s proximity to the airport and interstate.
“This is just the first step,” Edwards said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “South Fulton has always been misrepresented as a bunch of poor black folks and poor white folks. Other people are finding out that it’s a diamond in the rough.”
The move does have its downsides; Porsche will be leaving the Central Perimeter business district that has several MARTA rail stops and is close to neighborhoods favored for housing and schools by employees.
The former Ford plant site, which was closed in 2006, currently is not served by a direct MARTA rail stop, though the city has mentioned arranging a stop from either a future commuter rail line or the airport’s people mover system.
Porsche's move is likely to take several years, as the office building and track would be built from scratch. The company's current lease in Sandy Springs is set to expire in 2013.
Porsche has been a major tenant of Lakeside Commons, a 14-story tower in Sandy Springs built in 1998, where the automaker is currently headquartered. Tom Miller with Grubb & Ellis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Porsche occupies about 2-1/2 floors of that building and would empty about 10 percent of the building if it moves. Currently, the building is 85 percent occupied, Miller said.
The track would emulate Porche's three-year-old Silverstone facility in England, which offers coaching for drivers on a track imitating realistic driving conditions. A Porsche-themed restaurant and special events space accompanies the track.
Atlanta-based Jacoby Development bought the 122-acre former Ford plant in 2008 for $40.3 million, and has finished removing contaminated buildings and soil from years of industrial use. Porsche will really be starting from the ground up with this location.