The Westside goes boom!

Dollars, people pour in as once-industrial area becomes one of city’s hottest


Westside goes boom

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
  • Westside Heights by the Worthing Cos. – 282 units



Saporta Report: Centennial Olympic Park Market Heats Up

New Apartments at Centennial Olympic Park latest indicator of heated rental market

August 24, 2015 7:00pm

By David Pendered

Post Apartments

(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:

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

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.

Here are the return rates:

Multifamily infill, value add properties:

  • Class A – 5.5 percent to 6 percent;
  • Class B – 6 percent to 6.5 percent;
  • Class C – 7 percent to 7.5 percent.

Suburban multifamily, value add properties:

  • Class A – 6 percent to 6.5 percent;
  • Class B – 6.5 percent to 7 percent;
  • Class C –7.25 percent to 7.75 percent.

Proposed Midtown Whole Foods Market unveiled

whole foods locationwhole foods

(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.

Dual-Branded Hotel is Officially Coming to Midtown

Dual Branded Site Plan

Published in by Michael Kahn —
New details and renderings have emerged for the Marriott-driven dual-branded hotel slated to rise on a parking lot between 13th and 14th streets next to the Four Seasons. Designed by Cooper Carry, the hotel is slated to have around 300 rooms, according to a report by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. On 14th Street, an AC Hotel will rise 10 stories, while on 13th Street a five-story Moxy Hotel — Marriott’s latest brand, tailored to millennial tastes — will sit atop six floors of parking. Plans indicate a much-needed pedestrian connection will cut through the block, linking the Woodruff Arts Center area to Crescent Avenue.

While this will be the first dual-branded property by Marriott in Atlanta, the Catdog hotel arrangement is nothing new; a Hilton Garden Inn – Homewood Suites hybrid at 10th and Williams streets broke ground four years ago this week. The Marriott project will be developed by Noble Investment Group, and is just one of more than 40 projects planned or in development in the area. The Moxy will be the first of its kind in the Atlanta market, but the AC will be the second in the city, with the first currently rising on Wieuca Road at Peachtree Road, next to Phipps Plaza. No word on an anticipated completion date.