North Point Hospitality Group has unloaded its dual-branded Midtown hotel to pave the way for $155M in new hotel projects in the Southeast. The Atlanta-based hotel developer sold its Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Atlanta Midtown hotel, a 228-unit hotel off 10th Street to NY-based Carey Watermark Investors for an undisclosed sum. “We continue to be optimistic about the Atlanta market and our growing presence there,” says North Point CEO Jay Patel. “The timing of the sale was such that it represented significant value for both buyer and seller.”
Patel says the sale “paves the way for our future development plans. By year end, we expect to break ground on four hotels in the Southeast.” That includes some 605 rooms and a total development cost pipeline of $155M, he says. Patel did not disclose specific hotels, but the firm is opening its 162-unit Homewood Suites in Savannah’s Riverfront historic district this summer—part of a larger River Street East mixed-use development that will include hotels, retail and dining space for $150M. The firm also announced in April that it will develop a $120M tri-branded Marriott hotel in Nashville, including AC Hotel by Marriott, Residence Inn and SpringHill Suites, totaling more than 400 rooms.
One of Atlanta’s founding real estate families has bought one of the city’s most popular bars. Selig Enterprises has purchased the retail center occupied by Smith’s Olde Bar for more than $3M, according to Databank.
The property, called Morningside Strip Center, consists of nearly 18k SF of retail and another 27,400 SF of land, and has been owned by the estate of Beverly Taylor for more than 90 years. City Realty Advisors’ Tim Holdroyd brokered the sale. “We already have a substantial investment in the area, including Ansley Mall and Ansley II, and this seemed like a natural fit,” Selig CEO Steve Selig says in an emailed statement to us. The center made headlines earlier this year when it was put up for sale, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the fate of the popular Atlanta music venue on the northwest corner of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive. Sources say the owners of Smith’s have signed a short-term renewal. Steve tells us, “Our plan is to improve the premises, work with the owners of Smith’s Olde Bar and lease the balance of the property.” Calls to the Smith’s owners were not returned as of press time. For Selig, the buy represents an opportunity to redo a portion of a prime Atlanta corner just across from Ansley Mall into an urban retail or entertainment complex.
Top business leaders are lining up to support the Westside Future Fund, a high-powered umbrella organization that’s been formed to coordinate the planning, fund-raising and revitalization efforts in the communities west of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium now under construction.
Written by Maria Saporta for Atlanta Business Chronicle
Oct 16, 2015, 6:00am EDT
Westside Future Fund Chairman Richard Dugas, CEO of PulteGroup Inc. (one of Atlanta’s newest Fortune 500 companies), sat down with Atlanta Business Chronicle on Oct. 14 for his first in-depth interview about the initiative since he was tapped to lead the effort last December.
In the past 10 months, the Fund has hired Quince Brinkley as its executive director, raised about $1.5 million for its initial operations, formed its board and started putting together a strategy of how to attract new investment and improve the quality of life in Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, the Atlanta University Center and Ashview Heights.
“This is not a community redevelopment effort,” Dugas said. “This is a community revitalization effort. We will have failed if we have displaced anyone.”
The Fund is taking a multi-pronged approach towards the Westside. It is working with the numerous partners who already have been investing in the neighborhoods, and it is hoping to serve as a coordinator and facilitator in making sure everyone is working collaboratively rather than independently.
“I see our role as taking all the tributaries and turning them into a river,” Dugas said. “We want to play a coordination role, to serve as a community quarterback.”
When the Fund was formed, the idea was to have a neutral entity that could coordinate “the good existing efforts already underway and not care who got the credit,” Dugas added.
The Westside Future Fund was an outgrowth of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, the blue-ribbon business group that works with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on the city’s top initiatives.
At the last ACP meeting, Reed said that in addition to Chick-fil-A Inc., The Home Depot Inc. and the Blank Foundation had pledged at least $250,000 each to support the operations of the Westside Future Fund. Dugas said Pulte Homes also has made a similar commitment.
To support the operations of the Westside Future Fund through the end of 2018 — staff, rent, administrative costs as well as consulting services — Dugas said the board needs to raise a total of $4.5 million.
The Fund also is putting together a comprehensive plan for the entire area that will incorporate the multitude of more targeted plans that already have been done for the Westside. The scope will be education, economic development, public safety, housing and land use as well as health and well-being.
Dugas said he appreciates the skepticism that exists both inside and outside the Westside communities, based on what has happened in the past.
“I have been educated about the false starts,” Dugas said. “I’m committed that we will not do that again. We feel a strong obligation to not let people down again.”
That’s one reason Dugas wants to be sure the Fund is working from a comprehensive plan before the Fund starts implementing projects on an ad-hoc basis.
On the top of his list is community engagement. Dugas is well aware that that population in those five neighborhoods has fallen 55 percent between 1970 and 2010–from 41,000 to 18,000, and he said the most important constituents are the residents in the community. That’s why he wants to make sure this effort is done right.
“We are in this for 20 to 30 years,” Dugas said. “This is not a short-term — raise a bunch of money — and leave. It’s going to take a long time. We are acutely aware the community is skeptical.”
Another top priority is respecting the unique history of those communities. For example, the home where Martin Luther King Jr. was living when he was assassinated is on Sunset Avenue in the heart of Vine City. “The Westside Future Fund is very committed to preserving the historic integrity of the entire west side, including historic properties,” Dugas said. “Our goal is to make sure that unintended consequences don’t occur.”
Dugas asked for patience as the Fund’s leadership puts all the pieces in place.
One of the initiatives that could have the greatest impact is what Dugas is calling a “social responsible acquisition fund.” The idea would be for the Westside Future Fund to set up a vehicle whereby people could make a low-margin investment to a social fund that could be used to acquire blighted properties that could either be renovated or rebuilt.
“There are executives and corporations in town, like Jeff Sprecher, sitting on the sidelines, watching the Westside Future Fund’s ability to manage a social responsible acquisition fund and are willing to make sizable contributions to the overall effort,” Dugas said.
If the Westside Future Fund can work through those, Sprecher, CEO of New York Stock Exchange-owner InterContinental Exchange Inc., has pledged to invest $5 million into such a fund. Because that kind of contribution is more like a loan than a donation, Dugas said it could be a way for the entity to raise a significant amount of money in a short period of time.
“There’s a lot of momentum from a lot of foundations and corporations,” Dugas said. “The reality is that there’s a lot of excitement around the Westside, and our goal is to have a catalytic impact over the long-term.”
The existing partners include:
– The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which has pledged $15 million towards revitalizing the Westside–primarily by investing in human capital;
– The city’s economic development agency Invest Atlanta, which also is investing $15 million on primarily physical improvements in the community;
– The Chick-fil-A Foundation, which just announced that it is donating $300,000 to the Westside Future Fund and building a Chick-fil-A store on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive;
– Families First, which will be moving its headquarters to the to the historic E.R. Carter School;
– Westside Works, which is creating job training and employment opportunities for Westside residents, placing 216 individuals in living-wage jobs;
– Friendship Baptist Church, which is building its new sanctuary in the community and has more extensive plans to invest in the area;
– City of Refuge, which is planning to expand its community footprint to the areas adjacent to its home base on Joseph E Boone Boulevard; and
– The Atlanta Police Foundation, which is installing security cameras, launching neighborhood security patrols and working with Pulte Homes and the Blank Foundation to have Atlanta police officers live in homes in the area.
A Texas billionaire is claiming millions of dollars of his money was fraudulently used to develop the Emory Proton Therapy Center now under construction in midtown Atlanta.
Written by Douglas Sams and Ellie Hensley for Atlanta Business Chronicle
Oct 9, 2015, 6:00am EDT
Kelcy Warren, founder of Dallas-based natural gas pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners, claims in Texas court filings the developer of the Emory Proton Therapy Center, Advanced Particle Therapy LLC of San Diego, Calif., improperly transferred $40 million, much of it from Warren. The proceeds were allegedly used as a “piggy bank” to fund other proton therapy centers.
“APT then transferred the funds it took from [business entities in Dallas] to its separate entities in Baltimore and Atlanta, where the funds were presumably used to develop those separate proton therapy centers,” Warren claims in a Sept. 24 court filing in federal bankruptcy court in Dallas. (To read one of the court filings, click here.)
APT’s proton therapy center in Dallas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 17. Warren had loaned $20 million to APT for that center.
Warren’s claims are another challenge for the $200 million Atlanta project, which has already fallen months behind.
The 107,000-square-foot Emory Proton Therapy Center broke ground a little over two years ago on Ponce de Leon Avenue at Peachtree Street, just a block from Emory’s Midtown hospital. At the May 2013 ground breaking, Mayor Kasim Reed called the launch of the center a “moment of auspicious beginnings.”
The project was supposed to be completed by November 2016, but Advanced Particle Therapy is now targeting a January 2017 completion date. For now, the project is about 85 percent complete.
In a statement, Advanced Particle Therapy indicated the legal issues surrounding the Dallas project would have no effect on its progress in Atlanta.
“Dallas Proton Treatment Holdings and Dallas Proton Treatment Center are separate entities from the Atlanta project,” said Ashley Preisinger, an APT executive director leading development of the Emory Proton Therapy Center. “Major building construction on the Emory Proton Therapy Center is complete. The next phase of the project is delivery, installation and clinical acceptance of the equipment leading to first patient treatment.”
Preisinger added, “The Emory Proton Therapy Center is committed to this project and its ability to deliver cancer treatment to the metro Atlanta area.”
The proton center would be staffed by physicians from Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute and Emory Healthcare. Asked about the issues involving APT, Emory Healthcare issued a brief statement to Atlanta Business Chronicle, saying, “Emory is set to operate the proton center once it opens.”
For now, Warren’s allegations give the appearance the Atlanta project is in trouble, said David Smith, a president with Kearny Street Consulting Inc. “If they’re trying to use funding from Dallas across the board and that wasn’t part of the agreement I would say they’re in trouble in general,” he said.
Smith also noted the legal issues come during a critical point in the Atlanta project — financing the purchase and installation of its equipment.
The centerpiece is a 9-by-12-foot cyclotron, an incredibly dense piece of high-tech machinery that uses powerful magnetic and electrical fields to accelerate protons — highly energetic subatomic particles — that can be focused precisely on cancer cells. It’s not clear what the machine costs, but the company expects to secure $120 million to $150 million in senior debt for the second phase.
Earlier this summer, APT CEO Jeff Bordok said the company has raised $47 million in convertible equity and $72.4 million from its capital partners for the Midtown proton center. It also entered advanced talks with lenders to finance the second phase, including the purchase of equipment and its installation.
The new legal issues linked to the Midtown project raise the question of whether Emory will have to step up financially to get it moving, Smith said. “Emory has deep pockets. They may be able to find a donor or [pony] up on this, but it’s a big ask to get that type of money.”
Dollars, people pour in as once-industrial area becomes one of city’s hottest
Frank Buonanotte, founder of The Shopping Center Group, is redeveloping Westside Ironworks into restaurants and shops. Credit: Joan Vitelli
Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into the Westside, which has transformed in recent years from a rundown industrial space to a hip, walkable community that ties together Midtown, Buckhead and downtown.
In the last decade, $1 billion or more has been invested in the Westside, saidMichael Phillips, president of Jamestown, who teamed up with Westbridge Partners to redevelop one of the key projects in the area, White Provision. Chris Faussemagne, principal of Westbridge Partners, said at least $250 million in projects have come online since 2012.
Several developers with projects in the area likened it to New York City’s Meatpacking District.
“It’s a former industrial area with that used to have a lot of large warehouses and manufacturing uses, and it’s changing,” said Scott Selig, vice president of Selig Enterprises. “A lot of residential units are going in, a lot of retail, restaurants and entertainment. It’s becoming a place for people to live, and it’s very close to downtown, which makes it appealing.”
The West Midtown Design District, which is located west of Interstate 75, east of Marietta Boulevard, south of Collier Road and north of North Avenue, expanded its footprint for home furnishing-based businesses in the late 1990s, when a new round of retailers like Bungalow Classic, Kolo Collection and Poliform Atlanta opened in the area. This offered a shopping alternative for wealthy Buckhead and Midtown residents, who before had few better choices than Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square mall. The converted warehouses with their brick walls and exposed ceilings stand in stark contrast to more sterile glass-and-steel buildings along Peachtree.
In the years since, the Westside has become a model of new urbanism, as well as a destination for dining, living and entertainment.
Faussemagne said one reason the neighborhood has grown so much is the Marietta Street Artery Association, a small group that pushed for land-use changes and developed a master plan for redeveloping the industrial area while keeping its character intact. The neighborhood association of Home Park, the area’s largest constituent neighborhood, also created a master plan in 2002 that is credited for shaping the Westside.
Several adaptive reuse developments have become the core of the neighborhood. A pioneer in the Westside is the King Plow Arts Center, which was redeveloped in 1990 from a plow factory into loft offices, a music venue called Terminal West, art galleries and a restaurant. Westside Provisions District grew out of Westside Urban Market, a shopping and dining locale redeveloped by TuckerMott Cos. in 1998, and White Provision, which opened in 2007 with more retail, restaurants, office and residential space.
“With White Provision, what’s interesting to me is going back to the mid-2000s, what we were doing was still really entrepreneurial creative space combined with good operators on the retail/restaurant side,” Faussemagne said. “In the 10 years since, it’s really changed to much larger companies and corporations looking to have offices there, and more national retailers are looking to be in that area. I think it’s a combination of the old buildings and the nontraditional corporate atmosphere.”
Jamestown is currently expanding White Provision to make room for 14,000 square feet of additional retail space for three new stores.
Next to the Westside Provisions District is another upcoming multi-use development, Westside Ironworks, an $8.5 million project by Frank Buonanotte, founder of The Shopping Center Group, and Jeff Stein, founder of The Stein Group. It will convert two industrial buildings into 19,000 square feet of swanky restaurants and shops, including sushi restaurant O-Ku, furnishing store Dixon Rye and lunch spot Tom + Chee.
“During the last big real estate boom was the beginning of the evolution of the Westside from a design district into something more,” Buonanotte said. Another huge multi-use project in the pipeline is Stockyards Atlanta, a venture ofWestbridge Partners and the Martin family, a long-time Atlanta landowner whose projects include Brickworks on Marietta Street. The roughly $30 million project will transform three warehouses, two of which were meat-packing facilities built in the early 1900s, into 130,000 square feet of retail space and office space, which the Westside is still sorely lacking.
Stockyards is scheduled to be completed next summer.
Fifteen years ago, residents in the area were hard-pressed to find somewhere to eat that didn’t have a drive-thru, but today the neighborhood has everything from casual to upscale dining concepts. Buonanotte said he has found in conversations with restaurateurs that eateries on the Westside tend to fare better than those located along the Peachtree corridor in Midtown.
“I think it’s because of the authenticity and the character here,” Buonanotte said. “I think it’s cooler to go into a basement space like Ormsby’s and have the exposed brick… I think people find that more appealing than a white box in a glass building.”
Chef Ford Fry has bet on the Westside three times — in 2007, he opened JCT. Kitchen & Bar in the area, in 2013 he opened The Optimist and last month he opened Marcel Steakhouse in the old Abattoir space.
“Everyone in the Westside is really high quality in all elements, so that is what’s so good about it,” Fry said. “Before there weren’t as many people living in the Westside, but the population has really skyrocketed in the last five years.”
Apartment projects are also growing in the Westside at a frenetic pace. The 197-unit Elan Westside, the 250-unit Walton Westside and Perennial Properties’ The Brady, which has 230 units, all have opened in the past year. According to The Reid Report, there are five projects with a combined 1,304 units underway, with at least three more projects planning to break ground next year.
The Allen Morris Co. is currently going through a rezoning process for a 410-unit project at Howell Mill and 11th Street that will wrap around Northside Tavern.
“Our design is going to be in keeping with the neighborhood’s industrial chic look,” said Allen Morris, chairman, president and CEO of The Allen Morris Co.
In keeping with the neighborhood’s creative nature, several art galleries have opened in recent years. Westside Cultural Arts Center, a 15,000-square-foot events space, and Collective One Gallery, a 4,000-square-foot art gallery, opened in 2014, and founder Dr. Jim Chappuis has also purchased the majority of the block bounded by 10th Street, Howell Mill, 9th Street and Brady Avenue for future redevelopment.
“The Westside is one of the few areas in this city that has a sense of place,” Chappuis said. “We’re going to have a footprint here that we think is going to anchor this area.”
Development of the Westside moved outside of the core area recently when Topgolf Midtown opened a 65,000-square-foot store on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard.
Because there are no definite boundaries of the Westside, it’s impossible to know its population. But the proliferation of new residential space and resulting traffic gridlock makes it clear that the population is growing. This presents the biggest challenge for developers, company owners and residents alike.
“I think it’s interesting that when we started this 15 years ago, the initial plan was ‘how do we get people over here?’” Faussemagne said. “There wasn’t any traffic, just abandoned industrial roads. Today the first question is, ‘how will this impact traffic?’”
Kevin Green, president and CEO of the Midtown Alliance, said his group is in the process of putting together “the most robust, multi-modal plan” it’s ever put together for Midtown proper, which includes improving its connection to the Westside, which is separated from it by the downtown connector.
“All corridors have the potential to be transformed,” Green said.
Restriping Howell Mill Road to add a turn lane and a bike lane could go a long way to ease congestion, Selig said. And when development of the Beltline eventually expands into the Westside, it will play a huge role in the neighborhood’s future by offering residents a new way to get to other parts of the city.
The Westside has a very distinct look, but its biggest issue apart from traffic is arguably how it defines itself, including picking a single name to go by. It’s known by some as the Westside, but to others as West Midtown or Midtown West.
“We have struggled with marketing and branding over the years,” said Shaun Green, a senior transportation engineer for Atlanta Beltline Inc. who helped draft Home Park’s master plan. “For the most part I think ‘the Westside’ is a fair statement.”
As long as the Westside continues to grow, it probably won’t settle on definitive boundaries for itself, either — but Green doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
“It’s this huge land area that people want to associate themselves with, and it creeps and becomes larger than the boundaries are,” he said.
There are few available parcels left in the Westside core, so its growth outward is likely to continue.
“I think the demand is going to be there for years to come,” Buonanotte said. “While the neighborhood has changed dramatically over the past few years, there’s a lot more that can be changed… There’s opportunity and demand, and the only thing in my mind that will slow that down is if the economy slows down significantly.”
Current apartment projects
West Midtown Heights by The Worthing Cos. – 244 units, 17th Street and Bishop
1854 Defoor Avenue by First Guaranty Management Corp. – 236 units, 1854 Defoor Ave.
Accent Waterworks by Westplan – 181 units, Northside Drive NW
The Local by Pollack Shores Real Estate Group – 361 units Mecaslin and 14th Street
New Apartments at Centennial Olympic Park latest indicator of heated rental market
August 24, 2015 7:00pm
By David Pendered
(An apartment structure is to be built near Centennial Olympic Park starting sometime in the fourth quarter, Post Properties President/CEO Dave Stockert said in an earnings call. Credit: lrk.com)
The reason behind the construction boom of rental apartments in metro Atlanta is evident in the numbers – rent rates were up by a record-setting, year-over-year 7.8 percent, and investors are earning returns of up to 7.75 percent, according to data in a recent report from CBRE Research.
An apartment building near Centennial Olympic Park could be the next big project to come out of the ground. Dave Stockert, Post Properties’ president and CEO, said in an Aug. 4 earnings call that he hopes to begin construction sometime in the fourth quarter. A proposal unveiled last year showed a structure with 407 apartments.
Here’s how Stockert described the multifamily market:
“We continue to like how the housing market has developed. Obviously, you’ve seen homeownership has dropped to a level we haven’t seen in decades. The first-time homebuyer market is still pretty benign. Average economic occupancy for apartments nationally is very strong. The new product that’s getting added – and I think this will be the case through the rest of the cycle, a lot of that particularly in the urban markets, is very, very high-end. It’s expensive per unit. It’s going to have higher rents, so I feel like it creates a little more headroom for us.”
Stockert pointed to one project to illustrate the company’s positive outlook on the multifamily sector:
“Our high-rise at Post Alexander is a terrific example of what we can achieve, with strong early leasing at rents that are more than 10 percent above our pro forma. That development is on track to produce an initial yield north of 7 percent, creating substantial value.”
Post now has $370 million worth of projects in the pipeline and intends to buy back $100 million of common stock over the next year or so, Stockert said in an edited transcript of the call. Stockert said the stock prices are trading at a discount to the net asset value. PPS closed at $56.92 Monday, down from a high of $63.34 in January, with a market cap of $3.15 billion, according to wsj.com.
The nation’s apartment market has heated as home ownership has dipped to the lowest level since 1967 – 63.4 percent of the nation’s residents. Ownership has fallen during the past 20 years in all age brackets except for 65 years and older, according to CBRE.
Provided that developers don’t oversupply the market, rental rates in the region are expected to continue to rise in the near term and vacancy rates should remain below historic trends, according to Paul Berry, a CBRE executive vice president who oversees multifamily investments.
CBRE forecasts show a stable direction for returns in all classes of apartments in the region. The company expects the demand for apartments to remain strong for the next 20 years.
Atlanta achieved the highest overall return among the major apartment markets, Berry said. The region’s current vacancy rate is 6 percent, down from the high of 11 percent recorded in 2009.
Investors certainly are jumping into the metro Atlanta market. Multifamily sales volume is up 53.6 percent in the region, compared to the same time last year. That figure is well ahead of the national sales volume, which is up 38 percent compared to the previous year, according to CBRE.
Here are the returns that have attracted investors:
Multifamily infill, stabilized properties with quality tenants on long-term leases:
Class A – 4.5 percent to 5 percent;
Class B – 5 percent to 5.5 percent;
Class C – 6 percent to 6.5 percent.
Suburban multifamily, stabilized properties:
Class A – 5 percent to 5.5 percent;
Class B – 5.5 percent to 6 percent;
Class C – 6.25 percent to 6.75 percent.
Value add properties offer even greater returns. These are properties with problems, such as high vacancy rates or physical obsolescence, which investors buy, repair, and typically flip to investors who prefer stabilized properties.
(The site is bounded by West Peachtree, Spring, 13th, and 14th streets in Midtown).
by Amy Wenk and Douglas Sams for Atlanta Business Chronicle
Whole Foods Market Inc. wants to put a flagship store next to a planned Midtown residential tower, a 72,000-square-foot location that might include a brew pub and cooking school. Plans for the organic grocery store were unveiled June 9 to Midtown Development Review Committee. Architect Rob French, with Phillips Partnership, presented renderings of the project, which would stand next to a proposed residential tower at 14th and West Peachtree streets. Miami-based The Related Group is the developer.
Related executives appeared before the Development Review Committee with Phillips Partnership, a firm that has designed seven Whole Foods (NADAQ: WFM) stores, including locations in Sandy Springs and Savannah.
The new Midtown store could be more oriented toward dense, urban environments. Midtown is the city’s most walkable commercial district and home to several of its tallest buildings including One Atlantic Center and Bank of America Plaza.
“We’ve asked them to go a little outside their comfort zone,” French said of the tenant, referring to the design of the project.
Among the features proposed are a roughly 5,000-square-foot pub and 4,000-square-foot cooking school. Delivery service Insta-Cart could operate out of the store, according to plans. The design would also incorporate green walls and outdoor dining.
Apparently, Whole Foods is sensitive about any reference to its proposed Midtown location. Several times the tenant’s name was presented simply as “Organic Foods Market” to the DRC board. Ed Allen, with The Related Group, never mentioned Whole Foods by name, but he did say a lease with a tenant was in place. Even so, it’s a poorly kept secret. The name “Whole Foods” slipped several times during the architects’ presentation. In March, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that the Austin, Texas-based grocery chain was in talks for the project.
The store could break ground in by mid-2016, with a projected early 2018 opening, Allen said after the meeting.
Development Review Committee members asked Related Group to consider adding a rooftop garden or terrace to the store and to tweak the design to be more engaging for pedestrians.