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One Man's Opinion: 'More Than a Chip Off the Old Block'
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One Man's Opinion: 'More Than a Chip Off the Old Block'

One Man's Opinion: 'More Than a Chip Off the Old Block'
Photo Credit: Chip Davidson and Family

One Man's Opinion: 'More Than a Chip Off the Old Block'

"Chip changed the norms for suburban office development in Georgia with structured parking decks, taller buildings, attention to detail and a density component, which previously had not been seen in metro Atlanta's Perimeter sub-market," said Bob Voylesimmediate past Chair of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Atlanta District Council, and CEO of Seven Oaks Company.

 

It is true in large and small towns, but particularly true in the south. Strong, positive servant leadership, more than any other trait, can make or break most any community. Metro Atlanta and many other regions in our state have been blessed with visionary leaders, and often multiple generations of the same leading families carrying a disproportionate share of that load. As our state has grown and matured, thankfully that leadership team has also become more diverse, including women, minorities and a variety of cultural backgrounds in those groups which attempt to build consensus and move communities forward.

Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
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One Man's Opinion: 'More Than a Chip Off the Old Block

Photo Credit: Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve

 

Separating the servant leaders and community builders from the self-aggrandizers is also pretty simple. Again, from my grandparents, who long published community newspapers for several decades in five metro Atlanta counties, pay more attention to what people actually doversus simply what they say or how they preferred to be viewed in the local press. The Davidson family in DeKalb County was long known for granite. Literally, they owned the parcel and acreage around Arabia Mountain, Stone Mountain's smaller, twin sibling, as well as granite quarries dotting the east side of metro Atlanta, atop a massive granite vein which includes Stone Mountain (long owned by the Venable family). 

 

In 1983, Charles "Chip" Davidson III, returned to his hometown of Atlanta to open the southeast real estate development offices of Houston, Texas based Hines. Hines has long since been a name dotting north metro construction sites and developments, but it was Davidson's ground-breaking work, developing The Ravinia complex, at what would become later known as Perimeter Center, that changed that area of modern day Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and now Brookhaven, from literally apple orchards and cow pastures, into what is now one of the nation's most robust edge cities, containing the metro area's second largest cluster of Fortune 500 corporate and North American headquarters.

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One Man's Opinion: 'More Than a Chip Off the Old Block

Davidson brought what some may now consider the 'evils' of density to the suburbs dotting north metro Atlanta, parking decks, mid and high rises, destination hotels and dining...to a market long-accustomed to heading to downtown, later Midtown or Buckhead for such options and fare. Hines is still a market leader and The Ravinia is being again refreshed even as this column is being written, but you can tie back the Dunwoody MARTA station, relocation of Pill Hill hospitals from downtown, and the massive expansion of the Perimeter Center sub-office market to decisions and bets made by leaders like Liane Levetan, Bob Voyles, Chip Davidson and others during metro Atlanta's turbulent 1980s and explosive 1990s. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently honored Davidson for a career and lifetime of vision and instrumental developments, first at Hines and later as the CEO and co-founder of his own firm, the Brockdale Group.

 

"At first I thought (winning this award) was a set-up. Then, when it sunk in and I looked at the previous list of winners, I was blown away," said Davidson to The Atlanta Business Chronicle.

 

Prior winners of this lifetime achievement recognition by the ULI include Tom Cousins, John PortmanEgbert Perry and Lawrence and Mary Gellerstedt. Those are some pretty tough acts to follow, also proving that Chip and his career are much more than merely a blip or a chip off of the old Davidson granite block. Like most leading families, Davidson's work does not end with his own enterprises. Davidson sits on the board of trustees of the Shepherd Spinal Center as well as the Georgia Conservancy. A man of strong faith, he is also an honorary board member of Trinity House Community Ministries.

 

You generally know who the ground-movers are in your community, and those who all too frequently further divide their limited time, schedule and resources to make your town a better place to live, invest and raise a family. I'm going to suggest that when the opportunity arises, just say thank you or offer those folks a nice pat on the back. Remember, it was often their capital and perhaps family resources at risk, with no guarantees of return and a requisite share of near misses. Mr. Davidson, to you and your family, and the many leading families like yours across Georgia, many thanks.

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  • Two Calhoun State Prison officers in Morgan, Georgia, were arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs and other items inside a popular microwavable sandwich. The two female officers were arrested Monday after a metal detector alerted investigators to about 112 grams of meth and tobacco inside a Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pocket, according to WALB. Officer Corlethia Lattimore was charged with drug trafficking and Imani Ferguson was charged with conspiracy and giving illegal substances to inmates. Both were charged with violation of oath of office. Calhoun County Sheriff Josh Hilton told WALB that there have been almost a dozen arrests in the last year of people trying to smuggle contraband into the prison.
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