Board Member Stephen Barnhouse on Retail and Hospitality
by Stephen Barnhouse, executive director of property management for Olshan Properties
Olshan Properties is a 55-year-old family-run real estate enterprise, which owns and operates a diverse portfolio of commercial properties totaling 9 million square feet of retail, 14,000 multifamily units, 1,447 hotel rooms and three million square feet of office buildings. In Georgia, the company’s properties include the Akers Mill Square shopping center and the Sheraton Suites Hotel at Cobb Galleria and The Shoppes at Webb Gin in Snellville.
I’ve been the executive director of property management at Olshan Properties since 2016, and last year I was approached by the Cumberland CID to join the board. With a limited representation of the retail and hospitality market on the CID board, it certainly made sense to become a member, and it has been a tremendous experience.
Prior to Olshan, I oversaw properties for Starwood Retail Partners in Chicago, Illinois, Red Legacy, LLC and Red Development, LLC in Kansas City, Missouri and Copaken White & Blitt in Leawood, Kansas. My expertise is in working closely with general managers to manage daily operations to annual budgets, develop five-year capital plans, and maintain safe and inviting properties.
While I live in Ohio, I travel to Atlanta to visit properties each month, which allows me to attend the monthly board meetings and interact with the other board members on projects, plans and studies happening in the district. As the newest board member, I am still learning, but have been impressed with the CID’s accomplishments in Cumberland and fully support the plans underway for the future.
The growth and development of the district have positively impacted us in attracting a stronger tenant mix to Akers Mill Square, including stores like Hobby Lobby and Total Wine, which have been doing very well in the short time they have been open. With quality retailers and restaurants, we are seeing a positive impact on customers and more pleasant shopping and dining experiences.
For what will be obvious reasons, the new Akers Mill Ramp project — along with all transportation-related projects — are of special interest to me. Improving traffic flow around Akers Mill Road will benefit shoppers, visitors and residents in the area, and keep them shopping and dining locally.
I’m always looking at development trends and understand that urban design is gravitating towards a more transit- and pedestrian-friendly culture. The CID has dramatically benefited from the mixed-use, entertainment complex at The Battery, but at the same time, a shopping center like Akers Mill Square fills a very different need. We cater to the business person on-the-go needing to run a quick errand while grabbing lunch, which is why having quality tenants and improved traffic flow are important to us.