Week of July 17, 2000
  Blockbuster Deal of the Week
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Turner Tunes in Growth Channel:
$1.2 Billion Investment Will Add 3,800 Atlanta Jobs

So much for those rumors that Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System's (TBS at www.turner.com) becoming part of Time Warner (www.timewarner.com) would ultimately mark a sharply defined presence for TBS' epicenter in the South:

TBS, in fact, has now announced that it's expanding in Atlanta as if it were Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner first spying the wide-open spaces of Montana. The Time Warner subsidiary over the next five years will spend US$1.2 billion on construction projects in downtown and midtown Atlanta. That new space will accommodate a projected 63 percent increase in TBS' total number of employees in the Georgia capital city.

Net a Major Expansion Driver

TBS' expansion also allays any fears that Time Warner's merger with American Online (AOL at www.aol.com) would add yet more fuel to the fire to chop back the Atlanta-born company's roots. In fact, the Internet is a major driver for the 3,800 new jobs that TBS will be adding.

Currently, 600 of TBS' 6,000 Atlanta employees are focused on the company's Internet sites. But over the next five years, TBS will triple its Internet work force, adding 1,200 employees to work on Web sites like CNN.com and Cartoonnetwork.com, TBS officials say. TBS' bulked-up person-power on the Net may also be part of adding new Web sites for the Atlanta company's ever-growing roster of networks, they add.

The major increase in TBS' Internet efforts tracks with earlier predictions by Time Warner executives, who envisioned an overall increase in the company's online efforts as a result of the pending AOL merger.

Another 2,400 of the new TBS jobs to be added over the next five years will be in high-tech positions that will support the company's televised networks, according to TBS officials. The other 1,000 new jobs will be in TBS administrative and support work, they say.

CNN Center Will Be 'Technology Hub'

In terms of physical space, TBS says that the next five years will see it adding a 25-story 600,000-sq.-ft. (54,000-sq.-m.) office tower, which will be dubbed Turner Tower, and a 24-story hotel tower. In addition, the network will add two new buildings at Turner's Techwood campus in Midtown Atlanta, where the CNN and TBS operations moved into a closed former civic club in 1980.

Those new facilities will dramatically up Turner's already substantial physical presence in the Atlanta area. TBS now occupies 750,000-sq. ft. (67,500 sq. m.) space at CNN Center and 250,000 sq. ft. (22,500 sq. m.) at Centennial Tower, both in downtown. The TBS Techwood campus in midtown currently spans some 350,000 sq. ft. (31,500 sq. m.) of space.

The existing CNN Center, on the other hand, will become what one TBS official calls "the company's technology hub," housing information-intensive operations like CNN.com. Construction on the $140 million Turner Tower will begin in late 2002, with completion projected in 2004. TBS officials say the company hasn't yet decided which functions will be housed in Turner Tower.

The new 593-room hotel tower will go up adjacent to Turner's existing 15-story hotel at CNN Center. The hotel will account for some 400 of the 3,800 new jobs that TBS will add in its five-year expansion plan, company officials say.

For the near term, at least, the new properties also look like they'll be able to handle TBS' future expansion. By 2005, TBS' total head count should hit some 10,000, thereafter growing at a 5 percent clip annually, according to Turner Properties President Powell Fraser.

Projects a Major Boost For Olympic Park Area

The TBS move is a particularly potent shot in the arm for the downtown development envisioned when Centennial Olympic Park was created as part of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Even before the TBS move, though, the Olympic Park area was on something of a roll. Centennial Hill Development Partners, for example, has begun construction on a 19-story condominium tower on a three-acre (1.2-ha.) tract managed by Centennial Olympic Park Area Inc. (COPA at www.centralatlantaprogress.org), a nonprofit development corporation created in 1996 to facilitate development around the park.

And by the end of 2000, construction will begin on a 101-unit condo will start on another COPA-assembled site north of Olympic Park. The Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and Novare Group are spearheading the condo development. But those substantial projects were dwarfed by TBS' announcement of 3,800 new jobs, with many of them downtown.

Major Players to Coordinated on Downtown Projects

To no one's surprise, local officials were ecstatic over TBS's expansion plans. "Turner has not forgotten where it got its start -- right here in Atlanta," said Gov. Roy Barnes.

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell applauded Ted Turner, who has evolved to world-class philanthropist from the onetime "Mouth of the South" (a title, alas, that seems to have fallen to John Rocker).

"His commitment to downtown has been unwavering," Campbell said of Turner. Moreover, TBS's Atlanta-area commitment is extending into creating a cohesive downtown area. TBS is discussing its plans with other major players that have interests in neighboring properties, including Cousins Properties (www.cousinsproperties.com) and the Georgia World Congress Center (www.gwcc.com), Fraser says. The goal for the coordination, he adds, is "an integrated, common-sense structure."

©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.