Atlanta retail mogul moves into industrial real estate in affluent neighborhoods

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Courtesy of Sahni Enterprises

Rendered for Sahni Enterprises’ planned e-commerce distribution center in Cumming, Georgia.

A local distributor of scales and novelty store items dips its hands into the very space it depends on for its business: last-mile distribution.

Sahni Enterprises plans to open a 230K SF e-commerce-focused distribution center in Cumming, just off Georgia 400 at the intersection of Settingdown and Martin roads, nearly 50 miles north of downtown Georgia. Atlanta. Sahni plans to launch the $23 million project in October after securing construction financing from Ameris Bank, said Gary Sahni, the founder of Sahni Enterprises.

Sahni said his company, which manufactures and distributes digital scales and hookahs, plans to occupy up to 80,000 square feet of the facility for its own operations. But with ceiling heights of 40ft, Sahni is looking to attract e-commerce companies like Amazon that have been voracious in their appetite for last-mile fulfillment centers, especially in affluent communities.

“The traffic is so bad that more and more people are heading to Forsyth County,” Sahni said.

Forsyth County classified as Georgia richest county last year, with a median household income of $112,100 per year, nearly double the median household income for the entire state, according to 2019 data from the US Census Bureau. The county is home to more than 87,500 homes, nearly 85% of which are owner-occupied, according to census data.

Industrial landlords in the North Central Industrial Submarket, which runs along the Georgia 400 spine via Alpharetta and Cumming, saw uptake hit 155,000 square feet in the second quarter, according to JLL. Although one of the slowest industrial submarkets in terms of absorption, it is also one of the smallest, with 13.2 million square feet of total product.

Transwestern Vice President Keith Pierce said projects in this submarket are typically small, like the Sahni development, since they tend to be leased to smaller local businesses.

“This development is a testament to accelerating demand for last-mile delivery, as well as the growth of North Fulton, Forsyth and North Georgia as affluent population centers,” Pierce said in an e-mail. email to bisnow.

But last-mile distribution centers with 40-foot ceiling heights are part of “the new wave of e-commerce centers” sprouting up in metro Atlanta, as developers strive to bring them closer to major population centers, said King Industrial Realty President Sim Doughtie. in an email to bisnow.

“This brings products closer to the customer for faster delivery, and it also reduces transportation costs due to shorter delivery routes,” Doughtie said.

While this isn’t Sahni’s first foray into commercial real estate, the company has ventured into investing in commercial real estate ten years ago with retail, hospitality and residential – this is the start of its industrial move.

“I think I enjoy it way more than my main activity,” Sahni said. “I am still a rookie in this field. But I appreciate that.

Sahni also owns a 25 acre site in Alpharetta at the corner of McGuiness Ferry and McFarland Roads which is approved for a 160K SF distribution center near the Halcyon mixed-use project. Sahni said that unlike Cumming where he starts the project without any leases in tow, Alpharetta’s is marketed as a custom build.

“I really think at Alpharetta the right candidate who does custom builds is a home run for them just because you’re at the heart of Forsyth [County] and [the city of] Alpharetta without accomplishment. Hello?!” Sahni said.

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