New 16-story residential tower continues urban revitalization of Downtown’s SoNo neighborhood

The new apartment tower has a $55 million construction loan and forms a wave of investment planned for the area south of North Avenue.

The new apartment tower has a $55 million construction loan and forms a wave of investment planned for the area south of North Avenue.

A 16-story apartment tower is the latest project sparking long-awaited revitalization within Atlanta’s SoNo district.

Woodfield Development just purchased the nearly 1.1-acre site at 505 Courtland St. where it will build the 284-unit project. It’s the first residential tower to be developed in SoNo in the past 10 years.

Woodfield paid just under $7.9 million for the development site, a record price in SoNo based on a land per square foot value. It’s a reminder of the new investment finally pouring into the area.

While SoNo features Atlanta landmarks such as the 55-story gold-crowned Bank of America Plaza, for years development has been sluggish compared with other parts of the city such a Midtown, West Midtown and areas along the Beltline Eastside Trail.

But Australian real estate firm Drapac Capital Partners believed in SoNo. Five years ago, it paid just over $1.7 million for the site at 505 Courtland, then sold it to Woodfield this month for nearly five times that value.

The project will add 284 apartment to the SONO district of Atlanta, an area between Midtown and downtown that includes the Emory University hospital campus.
The project will add 284 apartment to the SONO district of Atlanta, an area between Midtown and downtown that includes the Emory University hospital campus.
Chief Operating Officer Sebastian Drapac said in a release about the sale that a surge of more development into SoNo stems from “a serious shortage of sites in Midtown.” Drapac also suggested more projects could be coming to the neighborhood, which has long been a gap between Midtown and Downtown.

“We need to remember that Atlanta’s rapid urbanization story is still in its infancy,” Drapac said.

Lenders are also buying into SoNo’s renewal. Santander Bank N.A. is providing a $54.7 million construction loan for the nearly $90 million apartment tower, according to Fulton County property deeds. Woodfield’s Patrick Kassin said his firm will break ground on the project in September.

Commercial Real Estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL) marketed the site. JLL’s Scott Cullen said the tower “will be a shot in the arm for further development.” Emory University is a catalyst. Just one block west of Woodfield’s project, Emory started construction on a 17-story cancer treatment tower. A few blocks away, Atlanta developer Portman Holdings is working on a proposal with MARTA to develop a 480,000-square-foot office tower and 275-room hotel over the North Avenue transit station.

Almost 1,650 residential units are already under construction in downtown Atlanta, according to Central Atlanta Progress, a group of business leaders and planners that guide development. Another 6,000 downtown units are in planning.

The mini-residential boom has sparked the need for more pedestrian-oriented streets. The city’s Department of City Planning has studiedtransforming downtown’s Peachtree Street, from North Avenue to Marietta Street, into a less car-centric corridor.

By  – Commercial Real Estate Editor, Atlanta Business Chronicle (August 31, 2020)


Westside Atlanta project on Beltline obtains $10M in property tax reductions

Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 7.06.04 AM

The architect of Echo Street West is known for designs of award-winning public spaces.

A planned $227 million office and residential development on Atlanta’s Westside has cleared a major hurdle, landing just over $10 million in property tax reductions. The project at Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway and Northside Drive would include 278,100 square feet of creative office space, 50,700 square feet of commercial space, and a 5-story residential building with approximately 285 units.

Developer Lincoln Property Co. owns the 18-acre site, a collection of economically distressed properties along the former CSX Railroad “Kudzu Line.” Lincoln has entered discussions with the Westside Future Fund on a community benefits agreement and could fund a portion of the deal, a representative of the developer told the Development Authority of Fulton County on Tuesday. The apartments will include 57 units marketed to households at 80% of Area Median Income. The Development Authority unanimously approved the property tax breaks. Over 10 years, the creative office development would receive just over $6.9 million in tax reductions, while the apartments get almost $3.3 million. The properties are currently generating about $44,000 in annual revenue, according to the Development Authority. The approval of the tax abatement was an important step in obtaining construction financing for the project. Discussions continue with potential lenders.

The properties to be redeveloped are part of an area that includes Georgia Tech’s expansion into West Midtown and several new residential and office projects that are underway. A new Beltline Connector will run through the new project and link with areas of downtown including attractions such as Mercedes Benz Stadium. Lincoln Property is calling the new Westside development Echo Street West. In February, it landed prominent Los Angeles design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios, which is known for its work on projects such as Grand Park in downtown LA and the Hollywood Bowl renovations. The firm has won awards for its design of outstanding urban spaces.

Echo Street West offers an example how newly proposed developments may bring significant changes to the Donald Lee Hollowell corridor and surrounding neighborhoods. Some changes are already underway. Just two miles west lies the new Bellwood Quarry Park and Grove Park, an area of Atlanta that has suffered decades of disinvestment and is now undergoing rapid redevelopment. Grove Park land and housing costs have soared. A few years ago, one of the neighborhood’s early 20th century bungalows might have cost $80,000. Now they are listing for $300,000. Grove Park apartments, which once rented for $600 a month, are now leasing for over $1,200.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms earlier this year ordered a moratorium issuing new construction permits near Westside Park, citing the need “to address rapid gentrification occurring in the area.” Echo Street West falls just outside the area of the new moratorium.

By   – Commercial Real Estate Editor, Atlanta Business Chronicle