Category: Commercial Development

Strategic Location Helping Rockdale/Newton County Submarket Draw Big-Box Tenants

Jul22
2020
Posted by
Marketing Staff

 

Facebook, Lidl and other leading companies commit to opening large distribution hubs in the submarket

When Ackerman & Co. moved forward with plans for Rockdale Technology Center, a 1-million-square-foot master-planned industrial park in Conyers, Ga., the site’s strategic location in the Rockdale/Newton County submarket of Atlanta was a big selling point.

Most importantly, the property offers convenient access to I-20, a major east-west highway that connects to Atlanta’s dense population centers to the west and to the ports of Savannah and Charleston to the east.

To date, Ackerman & Co. has developed two Class A distribution facilities on the 92-acre site of 135,000 square feet and 185,000 square feet. Later this quarter, Ackerman will begin development on its largest project so far on the site – a 325,000-square-foot facility that will serve a prominent manufacturing company.

“As land availability becomes more limited in industrial submarkets close-in to Atlanta, Rockdale County will continue attracting the interest of companies seeking modern, efficient distribution space,” said Brett Buckner, Senior Vice President of Ackerman & Co.’s Industrial Services group. “At Rockdale Technology Center, the ability for distributors to gain quick access to I-20 as well as connect to a CSX rail line are strategic advantages.”

Some big-name consumer companies are choosing to locate major distribution operations in the submarket for the same reasons.

Construction is expected to be completed this summer in Social Circle on a 970,000-square-foot flex data center for social media giant Facebook that will create an estimated 100 jobs, and Germany-based grocer Lidl recently announced plans for a 925,000-square-foot distribution center in Covington that will create 270 jobs and serve as its regional headquarters.

These major projects indicate that Rockdale/Newton County is becoming an increasingly prominent distribution hub for metro Atlanta. There is currently 1.7 million square feet under construction in the submarket, significantly higher than typical construction levels in a submarket that boasts one of the lowest vacancy rates in metro Atlanta at 3.7 percent. That compares to a market-wide vacancy rate of 7.2 percent as of 2Q 2020.

The Rockdale/Newton County submarket is part of Atlanta’s Snapfinger/I-20 East market, which totals 49,637,758-square-feet of industrial space. As of 2Q 2020, the market had the lowest vacancy rate in metro Atlanta at 3.2% and total year-to-date absorption of 473,594 square feet– one of the highest absorption rates in the market.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic initially resulted in a slowdown in leasing activity in the Atlanta industrial market at the start of the second quarter, leasing volumes have surged in recent weeks, and CoStar predicts vacancies are likely to remain below Atlanta’s historic average.

 

With Parcel Sale Complete, Leasing Efforts for Porter on Peachtree Pick Up Steam

Jun16
2020
Posted by
Marketing Staff

When Ackerman & Co.’s John Speros brokered the third-party sale of a prime 4.6-acre parcel on Peachtree Road in the city of Brookhaven, it didn’t mark the end of Ackerman’s involvement in the property.

Ackerman Retail Senior Vice President Kelly Wilson has been selected to lease up the retail portion of the mixed-use Porter on Peachtree project now taking shape on the site. Located at 920 Peachtree Road just north of Buckhead, the city of Atlanta’s premier shopping district, the project will feature approximately 291 apartments and approximately 17,600 square feet of ground-level retail.

Kelly is leasing the space on behalf of the parcel’s former owner, SDS Real Property Holdings. As part of the original sale, SDS will buy the retail portion of the project from new owner Wood Partners upon completion of construction.

Kelly said there is a great deal of interest among a variety of retailers for the space.

What makes Porter on Peachtree such a desirable retail location?

“This area has great demographics, is a highly sought-after retail node and has very little vacancy,” said Kelly. “It’s very difficult to find retail space with frontage along Peachtree anywhere from North Buckhead, through Brookhaven and heading into Chamblee.”

The tenant lineup at Porter on Peachtree will include up to two restaurants, with a retail mix likely to feature service-oriented retailers, boutiques and possibly a coffee shop, Kelly said.

Porter on Peachtree is in the Buckhead/Lenox submarket of Atlanta, which commands the highest rental rates in the metro area. The submarket has a total inventory of 12.5 million square feet and boasts Atlanta’s most prestigious shopping destinations, including Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza and the The Shops Buckhead Atlanta.

The impressive demographics of the project’s Brookhaven address include an average household income of more than $130,000 and a population within three miles of more than 133,000. The Capital City Country Club is located behind the property, and the Brookhaven MARTA station is only 1,000 feet away.

John Speros along with David Branch of SSG Realty Partners brokered the sale of the parcel for $15.8 million. “Because the seller is purchasing the retail portion of the development at completion, this was a very complex transaction that was years in the making,” John noted at the time of the sale.

Construction is under way and completion is targeted for late 2021.

New Renderings Showcase the Next Phase of Development at Lee + White

May22
2020
Posted by
Marketing Staff

The transformation of Lee + White is entering an exciting new phase.

Renderings have just been unveiled showing what’s next for the adaptive reuse development just southwest of downtown Atlanta in the West End neighborhood. The next phase of development will add striking design features to existing buildings and produce a new two-story glace-façade building that will become a new centerpiece for the West End.

The renderings are a vivid representation of the diversification of the project Ackerman & Co. and MDH Partners envisioned when purchasing the popular entertainment and food & beverage destination last fall. The upcoming redevelopment will add creative loft offices, a food hall, public spaces, additional retail options and multifamily units, all featuring direct and enhanced Atlanta BeltLine access.

“This new phase of development will add a dynamic mix of uses that will heighten much needed daytime activity and strengthen the already popular night and weekend visits, while greatly improving the walkability and overall visitor experience through the 23-acre site,” said Leo Wiener, President of Ackerman Retail.

Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, businesses at Lee + White are re-opening with the health and safety of their customers and community in mind.

“We are in the unique position of being able to adapt the design of Lee + White’s further redevelopment to newly evolving social distancing and operational guidelines. We plan to take advantage of the existing warehouse volumes, high ceilings and wide-open floor spaces along with direct connectivity to many outdoor spaces, including patios, greenspaces and the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Jeff Small, CEO of MDH Partners.

Atlanta-based Smith Dalia Architects is the creator of the new master plans. Further capitalizing on the project’s half mile of frontage along the Westside BeltLine, the master plans propose new and enhanced access to the BeltLine, a variety of public spaces overlooking the trail and a path connecting the project’s numerous outdoor spaces.

Here’s what’s on tap for the next phase of development:

  • The new centerpiece of the development – Building 1015, a two-story glass-façade structure opening directly to the Atlanta BeltLine with terraces overlooking the busy pedestrian trail. The building will house a 17,000-square-foot food and retail collective on the first floor and 18,000 square feet of loft offices on the second floor. The second-story loft offices will be notable for the distinctive entry, marquis signage, 12-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall.
  • Building 1050, an adaptive re-development of industrial warehouse space into 42,121 square feet of creative loft offices with 18-foot ceilings, abundant natural light and a large terrace overlooking the BeltLine.
  • Building 929, an adaptive re-development of industrial warehouse space into 85,000 square feet of creative loft offices offering frontage on Lee Street, dramatic entry features and common areas, and views overlooking the BeltLine along with new access to the trail. Unique design elements will include exposed-beam roofing, floor-to-ceiling windows and skylight-lit double-height interiors.
  • Approximately 30,000 square feet of ground-level retail space distributed throughout the property.
  • Up to 250 multifamily units with walk-out access to Lawton Street and the BeltLine.
  • A terraced outdoor multi-use area – similar to a mini-amphitheater – stepping down directly to the BeltLine.
  • A vertical Lee + White sign at the property’s front corner providing distinctive branding that honors the property’s history.

Construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2020, with delivery of the first phase of office space in mid-2021. The opening of the new ground-up food and retail collective building is targeted for late 2021.

Ackerman & Co. and MDH Partners acquired the 11-building, 433,204-square-foot Lee + White property in September 2019 from Stream Realty Partners. The initial phase of the redevelopment of the mid-20th century industrial buildings included the addition of tenants such as Monday Night Brewing, Wild Heaven Beer, Best End Brewing, ASW Distillery and Hop City Craft Beer & Wine, each of which has developed a unique following and enjoyed tremendous success.

Apr28
2020
Posted by
Marketing Staff

During Atlanta’s post-recession economic boom, its industrial market posted some of the strongest numbers in the nation, registering positive absorption for nearly nine years in a row.

Along with a thriving economy, Atlanta’s low business costs, extensive transportation infrastructure, and one-day access to the fast-growing Southeast ports seemed to have the industrial sector positioned to continue the positive momentum.

Of course, the ongoing coronavirus emergency has changed the landscape for the industrial sector, along with every other property type. But there are signs that the impact on the industrial real estate may be less severe.

A strong foundation
As one of the nation’s most important distribution hubs, Atlanta has continued to attract major e-commerce operations along with a full range of consumer goods companies and logistics providers.

The Atlanta market’s major lease deals in the past six months include Amazon’s 2.8 million-square-foot distribution center in Stone Mountain and its 1 million-square-foot lease in Newnan, Ga.

Other big deals and projects include Goodyear Tires’ 1.5-million-square-foot build-to-suit project in Newnan, Ga. Online personal styling service Stitch Fix leased 925,800 square feet in the I-20 West/Douglasville submarket, while XPO Logistics leased 673,818 square feet in the Airport/South Atlanta submarket and SBS Transportation leased 517,500 square feet in Palmetto, Ga.

The surging demand for industrial space in Atlanta led investors to ramp up new construction, which currently totals approximately 19 million square feet, according to CoStar. Vacancy levels as of mid-April remained low at 6.4% and the overall rental rate was $6.16, a 6.4% increase from the previous year.

What’s next?
Those numbers don’t yet reflect the changes taking place throughout the economy. The big question now is: How much will industrial demand be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis?

“You’ve got your recession-proof types of businesses – companies needing refrigeration for food products and manufacturers of essential goods. And, of course, there continues to be strong demand from e-commerce companies like Amazon,” said Chris Miller, Senior Vice President in Ackerman & Co.’s Industrial Services group.

In addition to Amazon, other e-commerce retailers are experiencing skyrocketing sales due to the millions of Americans who have turned to online shopping to purchase everything from health products and clothing to toilet paper and canned foods. There could also be a long-range movement toward the on-shoring of manufacturing due to disruptions in the supply chain for products such as pharmaceuticals.

However, there are definitely issues of concern. Cargo volumes at the Port of Savannah, now the nation’s third-busiest container port, declined by nearly 20 percent in March following a lengthy period of record increases. In addition, the retail shutdown that has spurred widespread layoffs will also impact demand levels, although the extent is not yet known.

Even so, CoStar expects fundamentals to stay afloat. Based on Oxford Economics forecasts, CoStar currently anticipates that – even in a severe downside scenario – Atlanta industrial vacancies will likely remain below the market’s long-term historical average.

“Deal volume through the first quarter was roughly equal to the metro’s quarterly average. We expect deal volume to slow, but CoStar clients remain active in sourcing and performing due diligence on deals during the crisis,” said David Kahn, Managing Analyst at CoStar, in a recent video report. “If the situation improves in the coming months, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an uptick in transaction activity in the second half of 2020.”

Chris Miller echoed that cautiously optimistic outlook.

“The industrial sector is historically the last to see a downturn and the first to recover,” he said. “When we get the all-clear, there will be a lot of activity because people are buckled in and ready to see this situation improve so they can get deals done. I think there is optimism that we’ll come out of this strong.”

Feb28
2020
Posted by
Marketing Staff

2020 South Metro Development Outlook: South Atlanta Is Ready for Its Closeup

Don’t sleep on South Metro Atlanta.

That was the message from speakers at the 2020 South Metro Development Outlook conference recently held at the Georgia International Convention Center. The conference, now in its 18th year, gathers commercial real estate professionals, business leaders and elected officials to discuss the latest economic development trends in the region.

South Metro communities have tended to lag behind Atlanta’s bustling submarkets to the north like Midtown, Buckhead, Central Perimeter, Alpharetta and Cumberland-Galleria, which have become some of the most prominent business hubs in the Southeast. But the South Metro – a six-county area south of I-20 – is increasingly attracting the interest of investors, including regional, national and international players.

Ackerman & Co. is one of those investors bullish on South Metro. The company, with partner MDH Partners, purchased the 423,000-square-foot Lee + White project in the West End area just south of I-20 and is currently diversifying the popular entertainment and food & beverage destination to include loft offices, retail and a food hall.

Ackerman & Co. Reports on 2020 South Atlanta Development Outlook conference

In addition to Lee + White, Ackerman is involved in the $1-billion Airport City project in College Park as the exclusive land broker marketing the 320-acre property adjacent to the airport for a mix of office, hotel, retail, entertainment, residential and other uses.

“The time is right for this type of mixed-use development in South Atlanta. This area has traditionally been underserved by retail in particular, but the opportunity to serve the local community as well as the millions of Hartsfield-Jackson passengers who visit annually makes it ideal for the local, national and international end users we’re seeking to attract,” said Steve Langford, Ackerman & Co. Senior Vice President and land broker for Airport City.

Investing in Future Growth
The South Metro region is home to the biggest economic driver in the state – Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which serves 100 million passengers a year, employs 63,000 on-site workers and generates a $34.8-billion annual economic impact.

Ackerman & Co. Reports on 2020 South Atlanta Development Outlook conference

Speakers pointed to a number of trends and developments that position the region to attract economic development while leveraging its strategic location at the gateway to the world’s busiest airport.

South Atlanta is the largest industrial submarket in metro Atlanta, with a total of 196 million square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space. It is also home to global headquarters such as Delta International and Chick-fil-A. More recently, South Metro attracted the relocation of Porsche Cars North America headquarters from Sandy Springs, a $100-million project that includes the Experience Center race track.

The region is preparing for much more success. Aerotropolis Atlanta, a public-private partnership representing 13 South Atlanta communities, aims to create the region’s next premier business district. Aerotropolis is working with other agencies on a variety of infrastructure improvements, including a $13-million diverging diamond interchange at Camp Creek Parkway and I-285 designed to improve traffic flows around the Airport.

“We don’t want to duplicate the traffic congestion of other parts of the metro,” said Gerald McDowell, executive director of the Aerotropolis Atlanta CID.

Another project being proposed is a “pod car” network that would provide speedy connections to Airport terminals and nearby destinations such as the Porsche and Delta headquarters via dedicated cars holding up to eight passengers. This project would cost roughly $15 million per mile, McDowell said, which is far less than other public transportation initiatives.

“We have been denied transportation solutions because we’ve been told it’s not affordable,” he said. “This is affordable, and we believe this is a solution that could provide an example of how to expand throughout the region.”

Adding Amenities to Attract Talent & Businesses
The film industry has a growing presence in the South Metro region, and it’s generating some exciting spin-off development. Pinewood Forest, a 235-acre mega project near Pinewood Atlanta Studios, will ultimately feature 700 homes, 600 apartments, 300 hotel rooms, and 270,000 square feet of commercial space with restaurants, retail and a 9-screen theater featuring a rooftop cinema.

“This type of development is setting the stage for attracting talent, and the companies that employ them will follow,” said Joan Young, president of the Fayette County Development Authority.

Christopher Pike, economic development director for the City of South Fulton, discussed two major projects planned in the newly formed city, including a town center mixed-use development and a 200-acre riverfront district.

“These are quality of life projects that will bring a different flavor to South Fulton,” Pike said.

In addition to new amenities that will help the South Metro better compete with northern communities, the region has another major selling point – its lower development costs.

Shannon James, president and CEO of the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, said the relatively low cost of land – which includes 50,000 acres of undeveloped land around Hartsfield-Jackson – impressed his colleagues from Beijing, China’s, Aerotropolis.

“They salivated over the opportunities here compared to the cost in their neck of the woods,” he said

Feb11
2020
Posted by
Marketing Staff

Since joining the Ackerman Retail team in 2017, one of the primary goals of executive vice president Brian Lefkoff has been to create a first-class tenant representation platform and growing portfolio of national, regional and local tenants. As the leader of Ackerman Retail’s Tenant Representation group, he has exceeded the company’s goals, adding many prominent clients to the portfolio and building a well-recognized platform.

This expansion of Ackerman Retail’s tenant representation roster has yielded several major lease signings for Brian in the past year. It also led to Brian’s recent selection as Ackerman’s Broker of the Month for December.

Brian’s major lease signings include a 30,000-square-foot transaction on behalf of Goodwill of North Georgia at Northridge shopping center in Sandy Springs, Ga. The new retail location for Goodwill is expected to open soon.

Ackerman Retail is Goodwill’s exclusive representative in North Georgia for the retailer’s store and career center expansion across a region that includes more than 60 stores in 45 counties.

Brian also recently represented Painted Tree Marketplace in a 30,000-square-foot lease in Buford, Ga. This marks Painted Tree’s first store in Georgia, which is now open at Marketplace at Millcreek, where it joins national retailers such as Burlington, Costco, DSW, Marshalls and Ross.

Painted Tree selected Ackerman Retail as its exclusive representative for its expansion in Atlanta and across the Southeast U.S.

To learn more about Brian and the Retail team, visit Ackerman Retail.

Sep26
2019
Posted by
Marketing Staff

Lee + White has become a hip entertainment and nightlife hub in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta, offering breweries, restaurants, food manufacturers and unique retailers.

In purchasing the property with MDH Partners, Ackerman & Co. plans to expand the project’s appeal by diversifying development to include a food hall, loft offices and additional retail.

Initially constructed as industrial buildings in the 1950s and 1960s, the property was recently redeveloped by prior owner Stream Realty Partners. “We’ll be investing significant capital to continue the development of this site,” noted Ackerman & Co. Brokerage President Keene Miller.

Tenants are united by their strong attachment to the West End community and their pride in being a part of a pioneering intown Atlanta development.

Ackerman & Co. is equally committed to becoming a part of the community and plans to hold public hearings to get input on its development plans.

While Lee + White has some similarities to other notable adaptive reuse projects in Atlanta, Ackerman Retail President Leo Wiener pointed out some key differences in an interview with Bisnow.

“This is not Ponce City [Market]. We’re not going after corporate,” he said. “We just think it’s a little more edgy and gritty with the feel. We want to stay true to the neighborhood.” Like Ponce City Market, Lee + White benefits from its location steps away from the Atlanta BeltLine.

Current tenants include Monday Night Brewing, Wild Heaven Beer, Best End Brewing Co., ASW Whiskey Exchange, Hop City Craft Beer & Wine, Plywood People, Honeysuckle Gelato, Cultured South Fermentation Co., Doux South Pickles, Boxcar restaurant, Overlook Boulder + Fitness, MacStadium, and United Way of Greater Atlanta.

“Lee + White is an exciting investment for us,” said Ackerman President Kris Miller. “Stream showed vision in transforming these properties into a popular entertainment and food and beverage destination. There’s an excellent value-add opportunity for us to diversify with additional development.”

Leo Wiener and Retail Senior Vice President Kelly Wilson will lead the restaurant and retail leasing efforts at the property. Porter Henritze and Sonia Winfield, directors at Cushman & Wakefield, will represent ownership in office leasing.

We’ll be providing updates on the development plans, so be sure to visit our blog and the Lee + White Instagram page for the latest!

Aug20
2019
Posted by
Marketing Staff

Slutty Vegan has come a long way in a short time.

Owner Pinky Cole started selling her plant-based burgers from a food truck in August 2018.

Since then, she has opened her first brick & mortar location in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta and signed leases for her second and third Atlanta restaurants.

Bryan Davis, senior vice president of retail services for Ackerman Retail, represented Pinky Cole in the long-term lease for the third Slutty Vegan restaurant, which will be located at 482 Edgewood Avenue just east of downtown Atlanta in the rapidly developing Edgewood Avenue retail district. Bryan will continue representing Pinky Cole in her restaurant expansion.

Her business has been a huge success, as demonstrated by the long lines of customers that regularly form outside the restaurant and food truck. The City of Atlanta even recently issued a proclamation commemorating Slutty Vegan’s success.

Generating buzz on social media has been key to the growth of the Slutty Vegan brand. Cole’s Instagram page, which now boasts more than 250,000 followers, showcases videos of celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Snoop Dog, Usher and Jermaine Dupri enjoying burgers with names like One Night Stand, Fussy Hussy (shown above) and Dancehall Queen.

Slutty Vegan also actively promotes the vegan lifestyle. The food truck is covered with a variety of pro-vegan slogans: “Vegan and Proud,” Save the World, Save the Animals,” “Vegan for the Culture” and more.

Want to read more about the Slutty Vegan success story? Check out these articles in national news outlets The New York Times, Forbes and CNN and local coverage in Atlanta Magazine.

Aug9
2019
Posted by
Marketing Staff

This year’s Deloitte’s Commercial Real Estate Outlook Report focuses on how technology and changing tenant and investor expectations are ramping up competition and creating shifts in how products are sold or leased.

With these shifts, what can CRE Companies do to stay competitive and ensure they capture the rapidly growing demand?

Out-of-the-Box Properties and Business Plans – The report states that this year investors plan to increase their focus on mixed-use properties, nontraditional products and retail developments. Flexible leases and business spaces are also going to be an attractive investment.

Adaptability – Investors will be looking for the companies that can quickly respond to the rapidly changing waters of the CRE business world, whether it be with new business models or by adopting “a variety of technologies to make buildings future-ready.”

Tech-savvy presence – To attract potential investors, companies need to be able to stay shoulder to shoulder with technology and present technological agility in the way they market their properties and in their business plans.

Catering to investor and tenant needs should move CRE companies to have a different perspective on the way they do business. By increasing mixed-use, nontraditional and retail products in their portfolios, becoming more adaptable to the changes in the industry and using technological advancements in their favor, CRE companies can change with the industry and be ready for the future to come.

Jul19
2019
Posted by
Marketing Staff

Two Class A industrial buildings – totaling 135,000 SF and 185,000 SF – are ready for occupancy at Rockdale Technology Center, Ackerman & Co.’s newest state-of-the-art industrial development.

Located east of Atlanta in Conyers, Ga., the state-of-the-art industrial park will ultimately offer 1 million square feet of the highest-quality distribution space available in Atlanta’s I-20 East submarket.

Ackerman is targeting e-commerce operations, technology companies, medical companies and logistic providers, among other users. The multi-phase development will house space users that will bring hundreds of jobs to the city of Conyers, Ga.

Brett Buckner, who is leading leasing efforts at the development, recently met up with Rockdale County Board of Commissioners Chairman Oz Nesbitt to discuss the development that has Rockdale County residents talking.

A video of the interview and a written recap are below:

Oz Nesbitt: I’m here at Rockdale Technology Center, 2430 Dogwood Drive, at the long-anticipated opening of this facility. People all over our county have been asking, “Mr. Chairman, what’s happening with Rockdale Technology Center?”

Brett, tell us about the decision to come to Rockdale County.

Brett Buckner: We bought a property down the road about a year ago. And when we got into the market we figured out there’s a niche here for shallow-bay type properties. So we purchased, about a year ago, 92 acres here to build shallow-bay buildings, meaning buildings that are short in depth. This lets us offer as little as 10,000 square feet and up to 135,000 square feet for this building and up to 185,000 square feet in the other building.

Oz Nesbitt: Tell us about the technology piece and how and why you landed on that particular name.

Brett Buckner: It was really a decision with several different people within the company and we thought the name technology, added with the great county we’re in, Rockdale, would attract not only manufacturers that are already out here but also people in the technology business. But we’re not just focused on those two industries. We also have warehouse properties that can accommodate some logistics and also medical-type companies as well.

Oz Nesbitt: You have a prime location. Tell us about I-20 and accessibility, being right here on a frontage road in Rockdale County on Dogwood Drive.

Brett Buckner: When we purchased the property, one of the things that attracted us to the site was the visibility, right here in front of this building. We hope to attract some tenants that can take advantage of that. We can accommodate somebody that needs the visibility or somebody that needs to have just pure warehouse/distribution as well.

Oz Nesbitt: So, Brett, we focused on the four “E’s” here in Rockdale County – Economic development, efficiency, execution and education. Tell me about the interaction with local county government and how they helped you get from point A to point Z. How was that experience for you and your company?

Brett Buckner: When we first started, we met with Marty Jones (executive director at Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council) and Gina Hartsell (Film Rockdale project manager). They’ve been terrific to work with since the beginning, which was over a year ago. They’ve introduced us to tenants in the area as well as state-run projects. From a development standpoint, they’ve been absolutely terrific. We’re so pleased to be here.