The ACR, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, marked another milestone at the end of October. The organization’s headquarters and staff offices in Atlanta moved into the first building wholly owned by the ACR. Since its start, the ACR has always leased office space. About a year ago, Mark Andrejeski, the ACR’s executive vice president, and the executive committee of the ACR board of directors began seriously considering the option of buying a building versus continuing to lease property.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2009
The executive committee knew they were in need of a new space, with their lease coming to an end November 30 and an office that was bursting at the seams. “We have always thought it would be a good idea to purchase a space because the College has grown so much,” says Stanley Cohen, MD, president of the ACR, “and with the recent economic issues [the executive committee] felt a prudent use of our reserves would be to purchase a building for the College, rather than continuing to rent.”
New Location with Many Benefits
The building the ACR has purchased is located at 2200 Lake Boulevard in Atlanta, in a development called Lenox Park. According to Andrejeski, one of the main objectives the executive committee had for their building search was finding a property close to the previously rented space, to minimize changes to the staff’s commuting patterns. The new building, just four miles from the previous ACR office, is actually closer to Atlanta public transportation options, according to Andrejeski, which should make commuting smooth and efficient for staff and visitors. The new building is near the Lenox stop of Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA’s) NE7 line. From there, a brief ride on a Buckhead Uptown Connection bus, more commonly referred to as “the Buc,” or a short walk brings you to the ACR office. The Buc’s lunchtime route to the Lenox Mall Food Court and other area restaurants is another amenity for staff and visitors.
Ample space to work in is another positive change the ACR headquarters’ staff will experience as a result of the move. According to Andrejeski, the ACR staff has been growing in the last seven or eight years. Currently, the ACR staff numbers 72. The recent growth resulted in the formerly leased building simply running out of space. The ACR’s spacious new building boasts over 100 offices and offers more than enough space for the current staff—and it gives the ACR the capacity to increase the staff by 50%, says Andrejeski.
ACR members will also reap the benefits of this building purchase. The new facility has plenty of space for the ACR to host some of its smaller committee meetings. Committee volunteers will be invited to ACR headquarters instead of temporary rented spaces in hotels or conference centers to attend some of the regular meetings held throughout the year. ACR members coming from out of town can fly into the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and take public transportation or a short taxi ride to the ACR headquarters. Visiting members will find the Lenox Park area, home to the ACR’s new building, to have a good mix of hotels, restaurants, and shopping options. According to Tammy Tilley, senior director of communications and marketing at the ACR, the organization hopes to negotiate more favorable hotel and dining rates at the nearby accommodations, which would mean savings for the ACR and its members.
Currently, the ACR staff numbers 72. … The ACR’s spacious new building boasts one hundred offices and offers more than enough space for the current staff—and it gives the ACR the capacity to increase the staff by 50%.
Looking Ahead and Honoring the Past
The permanence of owning property and the ability to consistently host meetings in a regular and predictable location will be “a positive model for the future,” Dr. Cohen says. Traveling ACR members will become familiar with the area and know where to go, Dr. Cohen continues, and “it will get everyone used to coming to headquarters.” Sherine Gabriel, MD, immediate past-president of the ACR, is looking forward to seeing the ACR’s history displayed at the new headquarters. Given the organization’s rich 75-year history, having a permanent, dedicated space to display the accomplishments and faces of the ACR will be a source of pride and reflection for members and staff alike.
Savings and budget predictability are two significant benefits the college will experience as a result of owning property. Andrejeski and Dr. Cohen affirm that hosting meetings in the new building will result in significant savings for the ACR due to the fact that they will no longer be obligated to rent space for these meetings. No longer having to rely on costly temporary space accommodations will give the ACR the ability to make projections farther into the future for budget planning. In addition, Andrejeski says, appreciation in the value of the real estate makes this a wise investment for the ACR.
Overall, the ACR’s new building in Atlanta has many advantages: an ideal location, ample space for the staff to work, room for growth, space to host small events without the expense of renting, long-term savings on rent, and budget predictability. But beyond convenience and tangible savings, the building brings something more important to the ACR. In the words of Dr. Gabriel, “It gives the American College of Rheumatology a home of our own, a place where we can celebrate our history and consider our future.”
Anna Phillips is a writer based in Texas.