Thrift & McLemore Blog

The latest news and info from Thrift & McLemore

Porsche launches a car subscription service in Atlanta



Porsche will start a “subscription service” for customers in Atlanta that could give them access to a number of their sports cars and SUVs.

Porsche Passport will start in November in Atlanta, the German company’s North American affiliate announced Tuesday. The automaker calls it a “white-glove” service intended to give users app-driven access to a different Porsche on a flexible schedule.

The pilot program being rolled out in metro Atlanta first is made possible through Clutch Technologies, LLC, which is part of the company’s Strategy 2025 that wants to cater to, “customers’ desire to experience our sports cars,” Porsche Cars North America president and CEO Klaus Zellmer said in a news release. Expansion into other markets will be determined after feedback from Atlanta customers, a company spokesperson told The Verge on Tuesday.

A $2,000-per-month Porsche Passport membership would give customers access to models such as the 718 Boxster, the 718 Cayman S, and six other Porsche models; the more expensive $3,000-per-month plan gives a user the ability to drive one of 22 models, such as a Cayenne E-Hybrid.

A subscription to Porsche Passport covers vehicle tax and registration, insurance, maintenance, and detailing. There is a $500 activation fee at first and a credit check, but Apple iOS and Android users can then download the app and schedule same-day or future vehicle exchanges through the Porsche Passport app.

Porsche Passport now stands between fellow Volkswagen Group’s Audi on Demand service that currently operates in San Francisco as sort of a concierge rental service, as well as the subscription plan Care By Volvo. The Swedish automaker plans to debut that early next year with the new XC40 SUV, which will bundle insurance, maintenance, and washing into one flat fee with the car.

And for Porsche’s well-heeled customers, jumping into a different Porsche every day may seem like a perfect fit.

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Components of an Elder Law Estate Plan

Clients are often surprised at the amount of documents included in an elder law estate plan. The following are the various components.

Trusts are far more common than they used to be. They are preferred over wills by many because trusts avoid probate, a court proceeding upon death. Wills, on the other hand, are documents used in probate court if you die with assets in your name alone. In addition to saving time and money, trusts avoid family disputes over the inheritance. Some people choose revocable trusts. Others choose the irrevocable Medicaid asset protection trust (MAPT) that protects assets from nursing home costs after five years.

Inheritance trusts protect the money you leave to your children. If a child dies, the inheritance passes to their children, your grandchildren, not their spouse, to keep it in the bloodline. In addition, the inheritance is protected from children’s divorces, lawsuits and creditors.

A “pour-over will” directs that any assets passing through probate court will “pour over” into your trust. It is a backup plan just in case assets were left out of the trust, but the goal is to avoid the use of the will.

A power of attorney is an “advance directive” that states who will make your legal and financial decisions if you are incapacitated. You avoid a guardianship proceeding. In addition, the elder law power of attorney includes unlimited gifting powers that can save about half of assets exposed to nursing home costs, even on the nursing home doorstep.

A health-care proxy, another advance directive, states who will make your health-care decisions if you are incapacitated. A living will states your end-of-life desires, including if you do not want to be kept alive on machines if there is no reasonable expectation of recovery.

Funeral and burial instructions can be very helpful to the people you leave behind, including if you choose to make organ donations.

Final instructions, also helpful to your loved ones, list practical information such as whom to contact, your vital statistics, service providers and obituary information.

A memorandum for personal effects lists antiques, coins, jewelry, artwork and other treasured items you want left to certain people. It is located with all your other important documents, easy to find, and you may change it at any time.

When you sign all your documents, you also usually sign the deeds for your house and other real-estate properties located in Georgia or other states into the name of your trust.

Written instructions describe how you transfer a variety of assets into the trust, including stocks, bonds, Certificates of Deposit, bank accounts and real estate.

And even though the plan looks complete, it’s time to come back for a review every three years to ensure the plan will work when you need it, not just the first time when you signed it.

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Thrift & McLemore Receives 2017 Martindale-Hubbell Gold Client Champion Award

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Thrift & McLemore is to pleased to announce that we have received the Martindale-Hubbell Gold Client Champion Award. The Martindale-Hubbell Gold Client Champion Award recognize those attorneys who excel at service as affirmed by their clients. Thank You!

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AJC - Nobu hotel and office tower to headline major Phipps Plaza expansion

By J. Scott Trubey - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Phipps Plaza, Atlanta’s shopping playground for the upper crust, is about to undergo yet another transformation as the owners of the Buckhead mall attempt to re-energize the space with a new luxury hotel, restaurants, an office tower and fitness complex.

Owner and developer Simon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it will begin construction in the summer on a 150-room Nobu hotel and flagship restaurant, a 12-story office tower and a 90,000-square-foot Life Time Athletic fitness center. The overhaul will also include new dining options throughout the mall.

The project, which Simon President of Malls and Chief Administrative Officer John Rulli said is “probably north” of $200 million, is likely the most dramatic single addition to Phipps Plaza since the 1990s brought a complete overhaul and third anchor store to the posh shopping center.
The new projects are expected to open in phases throughout 2020. The project will not disrupt mall operations, Rulli said.

The Nobu hotel and restaurant are clearly the headliners. Nobu is a luxury boutique hotel and dining brand whose Japanese fusion restaurants have won acclaim worldwide. The brand brings new star power to Phipps, as the founding Nobu investors include actor and director Robert De Niro, film producer Meir Teper, renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa and well-known New York restaurateur Drew Nieporent.

Rulli said the latest additions to Phipps build upon a plan in the works for more than 10 years for the mall to evolve into a mixed-use development and entertainment center. That plan came in response to other planned luxury shopping rivals such as the pre-recession Streets of Buckhead project, which after the recession became the Shoppes at Buckhead Atlanta at East Paces Ferry and Peachtree roads.

“The vision is to change Phipps into the luxury destination of choice in the Southeast,” Rulli said.

In recent years, a development team acquired land to build the Phipps Tower office project that’s now home to corporate offices of children’s apparel maker Carter’s, among others. Simon also brought in partners to build a new AC Hotel, more than 300 luxury apartments and the Legoland Discovery Center.

Phipps and its sister mall Lenox Square put Buckhead on the international shopping map, and Simon has invested heavily in both properties to ensure their statuses as fortress retail meccas. Retail has undergone a seismic shift amid the rise of e-commerce behemoths such as Amazon and from a consumer base that has gravitated toward luxury and “experiential” shopping and dining.

Rulli said the idea is turn an enclosed mall into a shopping destination that meets the street.

“Let’s turn Phipps inside out and create a Fifth Avenue streetscape,” Rulli said. “All of these incremental moves are tied to this grander vision.”
The bulk of the new development will take place on what is currently the site of the Belk store on the north end of the mall. The Belk store, which replaced the former Parisian anchor store in 2006, will close next summer, Belk spokesman Andy Izquierdo told the AJC.

Izquierdo said employees were notified Monday of the store’s closure. Employees will be able to transfer to other stores if they desire, he said. Belk has about 20 metro Atlanta locations.

Belk currently does not have a plan to replace the Buckhead store, but Izquierdo said “we’re always open to looking for new locations that make sense.”

The evolution of Phipps follows other mall redevelopment by Simon and other majorplayers in recent years. Mall owners have spent billions in recent years adding entertainment venues, fine dining and other attractions to maintain the stream of customers.

Mixed-used, largely open-air developments such as Alpharetta’s Avalon have captured the imaginations of the development community as a way to combat the erosion of sales caused by e-commerce giants such as Amazon.

In many ways, Phipps has been on the vanguard of this effort.

In the wake of the recession, Simon recruited the Legoland attraction and AMC renovated its theater into a limited, luxury-seating layout. Simon also added fine dining such as the Davio’s Italian steakhouse concept, and with partners used undeveloped land on its campus to build the Domain luxury apartments and the Euro-style AC Hotel by Marriott.

“We look at every asset and we ask ourselves what does this asset need and want to be,” Rulli said. “That’s how we come up with a vision and a strategy for what we want to create. It’s not about changing the mall but creating a product for where the market is today.”

Buckhead office space has gotten very tight with little in the way of new development in the offing. That’s a change from the last economic expansion that left Buckhead with several new high-end towers all jockeying for tenants amid the downturn.

The office tower, which will total nearly 300,000 square feet, will be targeted at tech firms, financial services companies and other brands that crave luxury office space at the nexus of some of Atlanta’s best shopping and dining, said Patrick Peterman, Simon vice president of development and asset intensification.

“We think the demand is there for it and we think we have a really good product,” he said. “That should allow us to compete.”

In Nobu, Phipps will boast what is likely to be one of the most expensive hotels in the city as well as a high-end Japanese restaurant that in New York and other global cities is a major attraction for celebrities and other high-profile guests.

The Nobu concept pairs high-luxury, high-touch service hotels with active dining and bar scenes.

“We see our restaurant as our hotel’s living room, something for the guest and locals to come and gather,” said Trevor Horwell, CEO of Nobu Hotels. “It’s the energy of the hotel. When we partnered with Simon, they wanted to engage new customers, reconfigure and refresh the whole experience at Phipps.”

Horwell said the company expects the Nobu restaurant to serve 800 to 1,000 guest checks a day. The hotel will feature a rooftop pool and bar concept.
Nobu operates about 40 restaurants and seven hotels with another nine hotels in the development pipeline in cities including Chicago, Toronto and Sao Paulo.

Horwell said the company has scouted Atlanta for some time. De Niro has been involved in several Atlanta movie productions, including upcoming The War with Grandpa, Dirty Grandpa and Last Vegas, and that helped Nobu ownership gel on the city.

“He knows Atlanta. He knows what Atlanta needs,” Horwell said of De Niro.

Other new restaurants planned for the re-imagined Phipps including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink by Miami celebrity chef Michael Schwartz. This fall, it was announced Schwartz would open his Genuine Pizza restaurant there in December.

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Facebook's Marketplace Partners With Auto Dealers To Boost Used Car Sales

Kathleen Chaykowski, FORBES STAFF

Facebook is making a push to expand the sale of used cars on its e-commerce tab, Marketplace.

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The company announced on Thursday that it is partnering with a handful of auto dealers such as Edmunds,, Auction123, CDK Global and Socialdealer to expand the selection of vehicles available to U.S. shoppers on Marketplace over the coming weeks. Facebook users in the U.S. will be able to filter search results by year, make, model, mileage, transmission and vehicle type. Marketplace will also show cars’ estimated value according to Kelley Blue Book, and will enable users to chat directly with a dealership employee via Messenger, Facebook said.

“We noticed that autos is one of the most popular categories on Marketplace with millions of Americans looking at cars and vehicle listings every day,” Facebook product manager Bowen Pan said in a phone interview, highlighting the Messenger integration as key to Marketplace's ease of use.

“People have found messaging to be the most natural way for them to engage on mobile," Pan said. "Instead of filling in a form, people are now able to have a seamless experience and real-time conversation about a car they might be interested in before going to the next spot of visiting a lot of sending their information."

Facebook hasn’t disclosed how many people actively use Marketplace, which debuted last October. However, the company continues to give the feature prime visibility within Facebook’s mobile app and site. Facebook said search volume on Marketplace has grown three times globally since Jan 1, and that 550 million people visit formal "buy and sell" groups on Facebook each month. Marketplace has seen approximately 70% growth in unique conversations between buyers and sellers over the first half of 2017, the company said. Marketplace is now live in more than 20 countries. In the month of May, 18 million unique listings were made on Marketplace.

By comparison, eBay is available in more than 30 countries, and about 170 million people used the site in the first quarter. About 55 million people visited Craigslist in February, according to ComScore. (Last year, Craigslist generated more than $690 million in revenue, according to an estimate by the research firm AIM Group.) Mobile e-commerce is growing quickly. Smartphone e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $100 billion this year in the U.S. alone, according to forecasting firm eMarketer. In 2021, U.S. smartphone retail sales will generate more than $333 billion and make up 80.5% of all retail e-commerce purchases, eMarketer said.

Facebook is betting that identity data on its flagship app, which reduces anonymity and connect friends of friends who live nearby, will be key in setting Marketplace apart from other retail sites. The company said it is testing new features in other Marketplace categories such as retail, tickets, home rentals (for example, for individuals seeking an apartment or single family home) and jobs. Since Marketplace’s launch, Facebook has updated its design and infused more artificial intelligence features such as “smart” suggestions, in a push to make item discovery easier.

Follow on Twitter @kchaykowski and e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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This year marks the 17th anniversary of Fall Fest in Candler Park, a two-day celebration of music, art, family and kicked off with a 5k race and a tour of homes. It’s called the Fall Fest because it takes place in October — so mark your calendars for 9/30 – 10/1 2017 — but it’s events like these that make people really fall for the charm of Candler Park and all that the Intown Atlanta communities have to offer. An estimated 15,000 daily festival goers are expected.


Fall Fest is FREE and produced by the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization a 501c4. All proceeds from the festival go directly back to benefiting the community.


September 30th - 12pm - 10pm | October 1st - 12pm -9pm

Tour of Homes - Oct 1st 12pm-6pm

Yoga - Oct 1st, 10:30am, sponsored by Tough Love Yoga

Artist Market - September 30th & October 1st 12pm-6pm

5K & Fun Run Races - September 30th - 9am - 12pm

Free Yoga in the Park - October 1st - 10:30am - 11:30am

NO DOGS: Per city ordinance, our canine friends aren't allowed to attend festivals as large as Fall Fest.


Candler Park and Mclendon Ave NE.

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First Solis Hotel in U.S. to Debut at Atlanta Porsche Campus

ATLANTA GA - The 214-room Solis Two Porsche Drive -- Solis Hotels and Resort's first U.S. property -- will debut in late 2017, adjacent to the Porsche Cars North America Atlanta campus, just north of the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Solis brand is part of Capella Hotel Group's portfolio.

Solis two porsche hotel rendering

The property, designed by architecture firm HOK Atlanta and interior design group Peter Silling & Associates, is being built to complement the nearby Porsche Experience Center, where hotel guests will have access to site tours, exclusive driving experiences and more. Other offerings include 6,500 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,600-square-foot ballroom, a restaurant and a rooftop lounge. Guests staying in the hotel's nine track-facing suites will have direct views of the Porsche Handling Course, which can also be viewed from the rooftop lounge. The property also will feature a Porsche model-car display out front and two white Porsche Cayennes reserved for VIP transportation to and from the airport.

"Choosing Atlanta as the first U.S. destination for Solis Hotels and Resorts is of great significance for the brand," said Horst H. Schulze, chairman emeritus of Capella Hotel Group. "We believe that the city is one of the most highly coveted destinations for the well-traveled Solis guests and cannot wait to contribute to the continued success of the area as an attraction for visitors both stateside and abroad."

Schulze added, "Solis Two Porsche Drive's premier location on the Porsche Experience Center campus will allow the hotel to provide a number of unmatched guest experiences specific to the Atlanta market; the 'Solis Promise' ensures guests will find local color, cosmopolitan comfort and inspiring cuisine in each of our hotels, something we cannot wait to provide our future Atlanta guests in tandem with the Porsche team."

by Lisa A. Grimaldi

Northstar Travel Media LLC

100 Lighting Way, Secaucus, NJ 07094-3626 USA

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New renderings depict South Downtown Atlanta completely reborn

German developer backed by PCM experts hopes to transform eight blocks of historic buildings and parking lots into a walkable utopia

The reinvention of eight tired blocks of South Downtown may still be in its infancy (having been revealed just a month ago), but real estate development team Newport US is setting expectations pretty damn high.

New renderings offer a glimpse of a walkable district that would retain and restore the historic buildings scattered around the neighborhood, while enhancing non-automobile options.

The project will be the first for Newport—a Germany-based company—in the United States. The team, in operation for more than a decade in Europe, was inspired to cross the Atlantic due to the potential they saw in South Downtown.

At the helm of the project will be Jake Nawrocki, who formerly worked at Jamestown Properties, the firm behind the reinvention of Ponce City Market and the Westside Provisions District.

According to the firm, public engagement will be a major priority as plans are created.

Over the next few weeks, more information will be revealed about the project, and Curbed Atlanta will take a walk with Newport leadership to get a firsthand sense of what’s in store.

For now, behold the district’s possible future via these renderings:

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2nd Annual Atlanta Dancing for Dogs and All Our Furry Friends Fundraiser!

Thrift & McLemore is excited about the upcoming second annual Dancing for Dogs fundraiser for the Georgia Pet Coalition! It is a great opportunity to raise funds for pet protection work at the GA Capitol! Dancing for Dogs and All Our Furry Friends will be a professional/amateur dance contest. Think Dancing with the Stars! Friends & family can vote for their contestant before and at the event at Each vote is $1 and the team with the most votes WINS! For more information on Georgia Pet Coalition, visit

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September 24, 2017 - 5:00 PM
Druid Hills Golf Club
740 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30307

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Georgia Tech Launching Masters Degree in Real Estate Development

Georgia Tech is planning to launch a new Masters of Real Estate Development degree.

"The new degree is a collaborative academic program that has technical, design, and construction components that are aligned with business, planning, and policy aspects of real estate development," says a summary posted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. "The program promotes the sustainable utilization of land and property. Program resources will be leveraged among three academic units within the College of Design, specifically the School of Architecture, the School of Building Construction, and the School of City and Regional Planning. Broader collaborations will occur with the Scheller College of Business, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the School of Public Policy. The curriculum is a design based real estate development program that focuses on planning, design, finance, and construction. Opportunities will be developed and made available for multidisciplinary research in real estate design and sustainability."

U.S. universities of the size of Georgia Tech with master’s level programs in real estate development are Columbia University, the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the Southeast, Auburn University and Clemson University have added master’s programs in real estate development. "It is anticipated that the proposed new degree will place Georgia Tech in a position of leading academic programs in the region and country in this area," the Board of Regents said.

A complementary master’s level program exists at Georgia State University. In 2016, it had an enrollment of 44 and conferred 21 degrees. Tech projects that its new program would have 25 students by the fourth year.

Tech's master in real estate development program would be 30 semester hours and be available to full-time and post professional students. Instruction includes classroom courses, studio-based real estate development courses, and case studies involving actual real estate development projects.

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Thrift & McLemore, LLC announces the completion of commercial leases.

Atlanta (5.18.17) - Thrift & McLemore, LLC announces the completion of all negotiated commercial leases for new a 175-acre mixed-use development, with anchor tenants such as Whole Foods Market and iPic Theaters. For more information concerning Thrift & McLemore's commercial leasing practice, please contact Ryan McLemore at 678.671.4031 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Thrift Legal Group, LLC is now Thrift & McLemore, LLC

Thrift Legal Group, LLC is now Thrift & McLemore, LLC

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Ryan McLemore Becomes a Member of Thrift Legal Group

Mr. McLemore is a Member of Thrift & McLemore based in Atlanta. Prior to joining Thrift & McLemore, Mr. McLemore was a commercial litigator with Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs in Atlanta and then an independent commercial real-estate and business attorney. Mr. McLemore brings over fifteen years of experience representing business clients in contract disputes, commercial transactions, alternative dispute resolution, employment issues, commercial real estate development and leasing, financing (including floor-plan financing), general business counseling, intellectual property issues, and general litigation.

Mr. McLemore received his JD cum laude from Tulane University School of Law. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from Louisiana State University.

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Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. Announces Launch of Initial Public Offering

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. (the “Company” or “Floor & Decor”) today announced the launch of its initial public offering of 8,823,500 shares of its common stock. The initial public offering price is currently expected to be between $16.00 and $18.00 per share of common stock. The Company has applied to list its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FND.” The underwriters are expected to have an option to purchase up to an additional 1,323,525 shares of common stock. The Company expects to receive net proceeds of approximately $133.5 million from the offering and intends to use such proceeds to repay a portion of the amounts outstanding under its term loan facility. BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse, UBS Investment Bank, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Jefferies, Piper Jaffray and Wells Fargo Securities are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. Houlihan Lokey is acting as co-manager for the offering. A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time that the registration statement becomes effective. This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy the securities described above, nor shall there be any sale of such shares of common stock in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction. The offering of these securities will be made only by means of a prospectus, copies of which may be obtained, when available, from: BofA Merrill Lynch, Attention: Prospectus Department, 200 North College Street, 3rd Floor, Charlotte, NC 28255-0001; or Barclays Capital Inc., Attention: Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY 11717, telephone: (888) 603-5847.

About Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. Floor & Decor is a multi-channel specialty retailer of hard surface flooring and related accessories, offering a broad in-stock assortment of tile, wood, laminate and natural stone flooring along with decorative and installation accessories at everyday low prices. Forward-Looking Statements This release contains forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this release, including statements regarding the Company’s future operating results and financial position, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause the Company’s actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “could,” “seeks,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “budget,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. The forward-looking statements in this release are only predictions. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements in this release are reasonable, the Company cannot guarantee future events, results, performance or achievements. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements in this release, including, without limitation, those factors described in “Risk Factors,” “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and “Business” sections and elsewhere in the Company’s registration statement on Form S-1. Because forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements contained in this release speak only as of the date hereof. New risks and uncertainties arise over time, and it is not possible for the Company to predict those events or how they may affect the Company. If a change to the events and circumstances reflected in the Company’s forward-looking statements occurs, the Company’s business, financial condition and operating results may vary materially from those expressed in the Company’s forward-looking statements. Except as required by applicable law, the Company does not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein after the Company distributes this release, whether as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise.



Investor: ICR Farah Soi/Rachel Schacter, 203-682-8200 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Media: ICR Alecia Pulman/Brittany Fraser, 203-682-8200 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Atlanta's No. 2 home builder Century Communities merging with builder UCP

David Allison
Atlanta Business Chronicle

Century Communities Inc. (NYSE: CCS), the No. 2 homebuilder in metro Atlanta, said today it will merge with builder UCP Inc. (NYSE: UCP) in a deal valued at $336 million, including the payment of certain indebtedness.

The combined company will be in 10 states, 17 markets and 117 communities, with revenues of more than $1.3 billion.

Colorado-based Century Communities is metro Atlanta's No. 2 homebuilder (after No. 1 D.R. Horton Inc.), according to Atlanta Business Chronicle's Book of Lists. Atlanta is Century Communities' largest market, with 1,265 homes sold in 2016, the company reported. The average sales price of Century's homes sold in Atlanta in 2016 was $271,300. The company's home sales revenue in Atlanta was $343.1 million in 2016.

California-based UCP operates in the States of California, Washington, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Century said the deal will create a geographically diverse portfolio with essentially no overlap. The combined company portfolio will consist of lots and communities in California, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington. "The combination provides for an expanded, national footprint across high-growth markets, which we believe enhances growth prospects while mitigating risks against any potential price and value uncertainties in regional homebuilding markets," Century said.

"UCP’s highly complementary land positions combined with Century’s existing portfolio creates a diverse national growth platform and footprint,” said Dale Francescon, co-CEO of Century, in a statement.

Century Communities entered the Atlanta market in November 2014 through the $57 million acquisition of Peachtree Communities Group Inc.


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Autonomous vehicles bill nearing final passage in GA General Assembly

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Dave Williams
Staff Writer
Atlanta Business Chronicle

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Legislation setting a legal framework for autonomous vehicles to hit the highways in Georgia is just a step away from final passage.

The Georgia House of Representatives passed a House substitute to Senate Bill 219 Friday 151-17. Since the measure's Senate supporters were at the table when the House substitute was crafted, senators simply need to agree to it to send that final version to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.

The bill exempts self-driving vehicles from the licensing requirements that apply under state law to human drivers. However, in light of the still-developing technology involved in putting autonomous vehicles on public highways, the legislation also mandates more expensive insurance requirements for driverless vehicles than the minimum liability insurance premiums required of traditional autos.

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"This bill creates a legal structure that makes it very clear where legal responsibility lies if something goes wrong," said Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee and one of the bill's co-sponsors.

The legislation met some resistance from lawmakers who don't trust driverless vehicle technology.

"Whenever you operate a machine, there has to be an operator to make sure it doesn't do what you don't want it to," said Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead.

But Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, the bill's chief sponsor, said driverless cars are safer than vehicles driven by people increasingly distracted by cellphones.

"I'm convinced the technology has sufficient safeguards in place," he said. "This technology will help reduce traffic deaths in Georgia."

Belton also argued driverless vehicles would take jobs from 3.5 million Americans in the trucking industry.

But Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said Georgia can't afford to be left behind by other states in taking advantage of the job-creating potential represented by autonomous vehicles.

"Florida, Michigan, California and so many other states have already passed laws allowing this technology," he said. "This is the future. The future is today."

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Thrift Legal Group Arranges $15 Million in Floorplan Financing

Atlanta, GA (3.10.17) - Thrift Legal Group arranged ~$15 million in floorplan financing for a privately held Atlanta-based automotive dealership group.


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Resort Casino Could Mean Thousands of Jobs In South Carolina

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Automotive News - Mercedes dealers get relief on renovations

Mercedes dealers get relief on renovations
10-year buffer aimed at easing tensions over Autohaus standards
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 Automotive News | February 20, 2017 - 12:01 am EST

A pledge by Mercedes-Benz to give U.S. dealers a 10-year moratorium on making facility changes is unusual.

Mercedes-Benz dealers, once they've updated their stores to the brand's second-generation Autohaus image standards, won't be required to make more changes to their dealerships until January 2024 at the earliest.

The pledge, announced this year to the Mercedes dealer network, is unusual. It follows the contentious launch of the original Autohaus standards in 2008. That initiative kicked off a period of tension in which dealers of many brands objected loudly to automakers' demands for dealership image changes.

Work on the 2024 pledge was initiated under former Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon, who left the company at the end of 2015. But the brand's current U.S. chief says he's fully behind it.

"It was the right thing to do," Dietmar Exler told Automotive News. "There is no backtracking from that. We've made a commitment to the dealers."

The reasoning for the 2024 timing is that the first dealerships to convert to the second-generation standard, also referred to as Autohaus2 or Autohaus Black, launched in early 2014, Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland said. The intent is to provide a 10-year cushion.

Most of Mercedes' 379 dealerships have yet to complete Autohaus2. Dealers were required to submit renovation plans to the company by last Sept. 30. Work is to be completed by June 30, 2018.

Exler: "It was the right thing to do."

State statutes

With the move, Mercedes takes a kinder, gentler approach to dealership image standards. The brand's dealers generally applaud the move. They also note that Mercedes was bound to certain time restrictions in some states because of a wave of franchise law changes that passed this decade.

"Mercedes hit the sweet spot," said Jeff Aiosa, a Mercedes dealer in New London, Conn., and the brand's line representative for the National Automobile Dealers Association. "Ten years is a good number for the state statutes across the country."

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers estimates that 13 states have passed seven- or 10-year limits on how often manufacturers can demand dealership updates. At least one state, New Hampshire, has a 15-year provision.

It's a common issue in state franchise law fights, alliance spokesman Dan Gage said. The alliance would prefer no time limit, he added. If one is inevitable, the automakers favor seven years "but have accepted 10 years in state-specific negotiations."

Though the law in many states spells out a minimum period between dealership updates, automakers rarely provide them unless required, dealership experts said.

Dealer lawyer Mike Charapp of McLean, Va., called the Mercedes move unusual but not surprising.

Autohaus rollout
Here are key dates and details in the Autohaus image standards for Mercedes-Benz dealers.
• Autohaus launch: Jan. 1, 2008
• Autohaus original program end: Dec. 31, 2010
• Cost for original program: $1.4 billion total spending from dealer network
• First Autohaus2 dealerships launched: Early 2014
• Deadline to submit Autohaus2 plans: Sept. 30, 2016
• Deadline to complete Autohaus2: June 30, 2018
• Estimated average cost to complete Autohaus2: Undisclosed but less than for original
• Earliest changes would be required beyond Autohaus2: January 2024
Source: Mercedes-Benz USA, dealers, Automotive News archives

Earlier tension

Some dealers who were late finishing the first round of Autohaus improvements likely come under the protection of the updated state statutes. In 2011, Virginia, for instance, adopted a 10-year provision.

"The commitment is probably part of the sales effort by MBUSA for dealers who can claim state law protections by giving them comfort if they go along with the latest plan," Charapp said.

Mercedes didn't get such buy-in during the first iteration of Autohaus.

Many dealers objected, saying it would require them to raze perfectly fine, even luxurious, facilities at a cost of many millions of dollars. Some had only recently completed expensive new dealerships or expansions, but their updates didn't fit the sleek, contemporary styling prescribed by Autohaus. That the timing coincided with the dramatic falloff of auto sales during the Great Recession compounded dealer worries.

Sonic Automotive Inc. even filed a lawsuit in 2008 against Mercedes over the demands before settling with the company in 2012.

The exact costs for the original Autohaus are unclear. Mercedes says its dealers put a total of $1.4 billion into facilities as part of the program, and previous estimates in Automotive News put the per-dealership cost at $4.7 million for the roughly 300 stores that had agreed to renovations at that time. Boland, the Mercedes spokeswoman, said that per-store figure isn't a good number but declined to provide an updated figure.

Today, five or six dealerships haven't upgraded to the original Autohaus look, Exler said. He described them as small stores in rural locations that may be dualed with other brands. "It's a tough economic case" for those dealerships to spend the money, he said.

Regardless of the earlier cost, Autohaus2 won't be on the same scale, Boland said. For many stores that were updated to Autohaus, it means changing out paint and carpet and refinishing some furniture. "For others, it is more substantial, but overall, we expect much less investment necessary from the network," Boland said.

Walser: "A fair time frame."

Support from dealers

Mercedes proposed the Autohaus2 changes this decade but put a required update on hold for U.S. dealers even as Mercedes dealers in other countries were asked to move to the design earlier.

Dealer Paul Walser, who last year acquired Mercedes-Benz of Wichita in Kansas, praised the 10-year pledge by Mercedes. "That's a fair time frame," said Walser. His Wichita store moved to a new Autohaus facility in late 2013.

The Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board supports the 10-year pledge.

"Dealership facilities have gotten terribly expensive in the last 10 or 15 years," said Ken Schnitzer, a Texas dealer with four Mercedes stores and chairman of the dealer board. "It's impractical to ask dealers to renovate their facilities in any time frame less than 10 years."


Entire contents © 2017 Crain Communications, Inc.
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