Three big housing deals proposed in Atlanta show glimmers of hope, but still no signs of cranes or shovels
By David Pendered
Three separate proposals for major apartment developments in Atlanta indicate that landowners are setting the stage for a hoped-for recovery in the housing market.
There is no indication that construction is set to begin anytime soon, or whether the units are aimed at the rental or owner market. But the very idea of expending the effort and expense to ask the city government to approve additional dense housing developments is a testament to the belief that major investors will return to back big deals in Atlanta.
The Atlanta City Council today is slated to start the formal consideration of requests that would allow for the following three developments:
- An apartment tower of 13 or more stories to be built in Buckhead, along East Andrews Drive between the Cherokee Town and Country Club and the St. Regis Atlanta luxury hotel and residences;
- A five-story apartment project to be built along the BeltLine in Buckhead, on the site of Colonial Homes Apartments north of Piedmont Hospital, in addition to a proposed swap of cash and land in exchange 0.6 acres owned by the city;
- An apartment building of up to 12 floors to be built near the Atlanta University Center, along with a related request for an assisted-living facility on a 2-acre site owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority, which specializes in mixed-income projects that co-mingle market-based prices with rates of traditional public housing.
The Buckhead apartment tower is proposed on a portion of the 30-acre site once eyed by the Atlanta Board of Education as the site for a future high school. The property owner fended off that effort, and sold the tract in 2011 to a Texas-based apartment developer for about $20 million. The owners were John W. Grant III and SunTrust, according to Fulton County property records.
The complete site originally was developed in 1965 as Paces Apartments. This land once was part of the Grant family estate, which included the town club that once served as the family home. Grant Field, at Georgia Tech, was named for the family.
Camden USA, Inc. is the new owner that submitted the paperwork to develop the 13.6-acre site. Camden USA is headed by Ric Campo, who also serves as chairman and CEO of Camden Property Trust, a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust with a market cap of $5.46 billion on May 4.
Camden incorporated in Georgia in June 2011 and listed a Houston address. The company has a regional office in the Perimeter area, and Camden’s website says it oversees more than 66,000 apartment units in almost 200 properties located in 12 states.
The five-floor apartment project near Piedmont Hospital has been controlled by Atlanta-based Pope & Land Enterprises since 2005. A corporate entity named P&L Colonial LLC paid $25.4 million for about 16 acres and a set of apartments built mainly in the late 1940s.
At the time, this area was just being incorporated into the Atlanta BeltLine, and the BeltLine was promising to create wealth for developers who revitalized decayed communities for what was a white hot intown real estate market.
The Atlanta City Council initially rejected the developer’s plan to build about 250 apartments on land that now provides about 40 units. The developer appealed to Fulton County Superior Court, where a judge ordered the council to rezone the land.
In this case, the developer also proposes a land swap with the city. P&L has asked the city to abandon a portion of a public road that measures about 0.6 acres. P&L needs that land to relocate a right-of-way. In exchange, P&L would provide about 0.4 acres to the city and pay a price to be determined by the city.
The proposal for the project near the Atlanta University Center was submitted by Integral Development, LLC, which has helped AHA build several new communities on the site of demolished public housing projects. Integral Development also is on the teams selected to redevelop Fort McPherson and the sprawling region around, and including, the railroad Gulch in downtown Atlanta.
AHA demolished University Homes in 2009. The project originally opened in 1938 as a public housing project for African Americans, and was viewed as a sister to Techwood Homes, which opened in 1936 as the first public housing project in the United States.
The developer has requested a change in the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan in order to allow construction of a residential building of up to 12 stories. The proposed assisted-living facility is being requested for the same address, 668 Atlanta Student Movement Boulevard, which is the new name for a portion of Fair Street from Northside Drive to Joseph Lowery Boulevard.