To keep current, lifespan of buildings seems to be about 30 years in metro Atlanta

By David Pendered

The lifespan of commercial buildings now seems to be about 30 years in metro Atlanta, judging from two redevelopment projects in Atlanta and one under review in Peachtree Corners.

Peachtree Corners, truck

The Domain apartment complex in Peachtree Corners was built in 1981 on 54 acres. The Peachtree Corners City Council is seeking ways to encourage redevelopment of properties of this vintage. Credit: David Pendered

For starters, the Georgia Dome is to be demolished less than 30 years after it was completed, in 1992. Demolition is to be complete by the end of 2017, by which time the Atlanta Falcons are to have taken nest in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium next door.

The Georgia-Pacific building, completed in 1982, is in line for up to $150 million in renovations funded by bonds to be issued by Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm.

Finally, the Peachtree Corners City Council has hired a consultant to devise strategies to redevelop privately owned apartment complexes that date to the 1990s. Some apartments in the area are even older, dating to the 1980s.

Each of these projects has been described by its advocates as an effort to keep up with the times. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said of the Georgia-Pacific project:

  • “The renovations will modernize the company’s offices, making Georgia-Pacific more attractive to younger, tech-savvy workers, and will also support our goals of making Atlanta a top-tier city for sustainability through water and energy conservation efforts.”
Georgia Pacific Tower

Georgia-Pacific has received up to $150 million in financing from Invest Atlanta to update the tower, which was completed in 1982. Credit: waynewolfe.com

Georgia-Pacific plans to reconfigure 23 of the 52 floors in its headquarters building in Downtown Atlanta. Company officials said the renovation was a major factor in its decision to keep 2,600 employees in Atlanta and to add up to 600 jobs, according to a statement issued by Reed’s office.

So much has been communicated about the demolition of the Georgia Dome and construction of a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons that there’s little need to elaborate. Suffice to say that the dome, built for about $214 million, didn’t provide the pizzazz expected from the new $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Peachtree Corners project stems from the city council’s decision to freshen up one of the new city’s major corridors – Holcomb Bridge Road.

The apartment complexes that flank the road provide affordable housing, mostly to tenants described by a city report as young, racially diverse, comparatively low income, and without children.

Monthly rental rates average $886 a month, according to a consultants’ report the council adopted on Dec. 15, 2015.

Georgia Dome

The Georgia Dome was completed in 1992 and is slated for demolition before the end of 2017. Credit: info-stades.fr

The average household income in the Holcomb Bridge study area is $36,673, compared to citywide average of $60,040. Forty-nine percent of households in the study area earn less than $35,000 a year, according to the report conducted by Lord Aeck Sargent, with Bleakly Advisory Group and Stantec Consulting.

One problem facing the city council is that owners of these apartment complexes may have little interest in changing their business model. Occupancy rates were 96 percent in 2015, according to the consultants’ report that went on to observe:

  • “Despite public perception, [the apartment complexes] are performing quite well from an economic perspective. … Given these economic trends, incentivizing the redevelopment of select residential areas will require a more strategic approach and collaboration between public and private sectors.”

In addition, prices are rising for some of these apartment complexes. The Domain was purchased in January by a Florida-based company for $39,950,000. The prior owner netted a 26 percent profit, or $8.2 million, based on its purchase price in 2008 of $31,750,000, according to Gwinnett County tax records.

Peachtree Corners, cat

A cat sits in an open window of an apartment at The Domain, in Peachtree Corners. Credit: David Pendered

The council has engaged Bleakly Advisory Group to conduct further study, according to legislation the council adopted March 15. For a payment not to exceed $18,000, Bleakly is to examine three topics:

  1. “Analyze the Economics of Redevelopment for Four Existing Apartment Projects
  2. “Test Potential Regulatory and Incentive Policies for Targeted Redevelopment
  3. “Suggest A Range of Alternative City Policies to Support Targeted Redevelopment of Multifamily Properties.”

A statement released by the city described the project in these terms:

  • “The City Council selected Bleakley Advisory Group to study the redevelopment of existing apartment properties which have outlived their economic usefulness and have become areas of lagging property values. The study will analyze the feasibility of transitioning the properties into either new housing or other land uses.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

7 replies
  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    Georgia-Pacific has refurbished its floors before. I was involved in a multi-floor (19 as I remember) re-stack in the 1990s. They didn’t require any taxpayer assistance at that time.

    Commercial office buildings and residential buildings are built as cheaply as possible and the electrical/mechanical systems are at the end of their usable life well before 30 years. Replacement of these systems often drive refurbishment.Report

    Reply
  2. TAD Expert says:

    This is absurd.  The ADA has its offices in the Georgia-Pacific building. So the ADA is going to dole out a fkle bond transaction in order to give 10-year tax abatement to its landlord?  

    Kasim Reed should be indicted for this crap.Report

    Reply
  3. Chad Carlson says:

    I’m so glad somebody is covering this. I know that two condo developments that were thrown up in downtown Decatur back in 2008 are falling apart, and a friend has told me that her condo recently built on the Eastside Beltline is being eaten inside out by mold. Equally distressing is the fact that they are tearing down buildings that have stood for a hundred years, and would last a hundred years more, to build a lot of this junk.Report

    Reply
  4. Gil Robison says:

    The average American is responsible for the emission of 160,000 TONNES of carbon dioxide, among the top 5 per capita. We are killing the planet, the biosphere.
    Unlimited growth is not sustainable.
    Does anyone care?Report

    Reply

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