On the 15th floor of his office building overlooking Atlantic Station, Jim Jacoby sits in the conference room, the sleeves of his plaid shirt rolled up almost to his elbows. Site plans, charts and renderings fill the perimeter of the room. The evidence of a serial entrepreneur is broken only by a huge saltwater aquarium filled with fluorescent-looking fish.
The founder, CEO and chairman of Atlanta-based Jacoby Development is known for redeveloping Atlantic Station, a 138-acre mixed-use project on the former site of Atlantic Steel that has become synonymous with smart growth and a rejuvenated Midtown.
Jacoby jokes that his push to build more sustainable, urban projects is penance for the Wal-Mart stores he developed early in his career. But he's come a long way since founding his company in 1977. Today, he has a firm footing in the alternative energy business.
With a public-private partnership of Jacoby Energy, Waste Management, DeKalb County and Atlanta Gas Light Jacoby sells natural gas from Live Oak Landfill to Atlanta Gas Light. .
“We're extracting the methane, we're cleaning it, we're compressing it, getting it to pipeline quality and we're putting it into Atlanta Gas Light's line,” he says.
Jacoby expanded to alternative energy in 2001 with a project in Hawaii. Kona Kai Ola was a proposed mixed-use development spanning more than 350 acres. It was eventually scrapped because of an unfavorable political climate.
Research to prevent landfill leachate or liquid from seeping into and killing coral reefs led Jacoby to a new technology, plasma arc gasification. In this process, garbage is heated to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit to vaporize the trash and turn it into a gas to generate electricity.
“[Plasma arc gasification] is the holy grail because my vision in the long term is to reclaim landfills where it's great real estate in the heart of cities, like Staten Island's Fresh Kills Landfill,” says Jacoby.
After Ford Motor Co. closed its Atlanta Assembly Plant on 122 acres in Hapeville, Ga., adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Jacoby purchased the property for an undisclosed sum in June 2008. A $20 million site remediation under Georgia's brownfield act is near completion.
Jacoby envisions an aviation business park called Aerotropolis, featuring office, retail, and hotel space, and airport parking. In April, he entered a partnership agreement with Norcross, Ga.-based manufacturer Suniva to install solar cells atop the parking structure. Aerotropolis is an estimated $1.5 billion, 10-year project.
Jacoby is looking at incentive options from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, a $787 billion stimulus package, to the proposed climate change bill.
“Solar works today because of the tax credits, which give you a 30% rebate on your cost of solar,” says Jacoby. “The government has said it wants solar to happen, it has leveled the playing field.”
NAMES IN THE NEWS
Trevor Kafoury has been promoted to senior vice president at brokerage CB Richard Ellis. He specializes in office properties in the Portland, Ore. market. Kafoury has consistently been a top five producer at the Portland office, and has successfully negotiated more than 4.5 million sq. ft. of office-flex transactions valued at more than $515 million.
Mike Labelle has been named a senior vice president at corporate tenant advisory firm Studley, and co-branch manager of the San Diego office. A 20-year industry veteran, Labelle has represented corporate tenants in more than 8 million sq. ft. of transactions throughout his commercial real estate career.
Brian Bode has been named senior vice president of investor relations at Bell Partners, which has multifamily management and investment interests. Bode previously was with UBS Investment Bank in New York. At Bell, he will oversee a strategy for growth in private equity fund-raising.
Bill Chadwick, a Los Angeles investment banker, has been appointed CEO of Multi-Housing Capital Advisors, a provider of financial services. Chadwick will focus on multifamily investment and transactions, and participate in day-to-day management of business affairs.