Move-Ins Boost Midtown’s Momentum As Developers Look To ‘Land A Whale’

Developers are building nearly 3M SF of new office space in Midtown Atlanta, more than half of all new office construction in the region. And if more developers have their way, Atlanta’s hottest office submarket could see more than 8M SF more rise there in the near future.

While the submarket hasn’t been immune to the office slowdown this year — Class-A offices in Midtown were 23.8% vacant as of June, among the highest rates in Metro Atlanta — developers say Midtown will remain the preferred destination for companies chasing talent and the amenities of larger cities.

View of the Midtown Atlanta skyline from Piedmont Park


“If you feel optimistic about job growth in Atlanta, then you’re obviously going to feel optimistic about what’s happening in Midtown,” said Selig Development Chief Operating and Development Officer Steve Baile, whose firm is developing the 1105 West Peachtree tower, which Google has leased.

“It’s not just an office market, it’s not just a residential market,” Baile said. “It feeds all food groups.”

While absorption was weak during the first six months of 2021 — Midtown absorbed just 56,600 SF of office space during that time, according to JLL, despite over 1M SF of deliveries — Colliers projects it will surge back in the third quarter, turning positive by 1.1M SF, thanks in part to Microsoft occupying its 500K SF offices at Atlantic Yards, Colliers Director of Research Scott Amoson said.

Experts say leasing momentum is gaining steam again in Midtown, which could justify developer optimism on the submarket.

“I do not believe that demand is waning in Midtown,” Transwestern Vice President of Research Keith Pierce wrote in an email. “The second half of 2021 will likely show some strong absorption numbers as companies like Microsoft and Google begin to take occupancy of their new hubs.”

The submarket has already lured a number of banner tenants, including names like Microsoft, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Google, as executives chased talent coming out of Georgia TechGeorgia State University and the various Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the city.

The leasing momentum, along a large pipeline of office prospects, has allowed area landlords to command some of the highest rents in the metro area. Midtown rents today average more than $40 per SF, up from $34.50 just three years ago, according to data compiled by Transwestern.

“I’m still very bullish. If I had this level of activity and Covid had never been around, I’d be pleased,” said Chris Scott, a partner with Greenstone Properties, which is constructing 14th & Spring, a 320K SF office building that is set to be delivered by July. Greenstone has yet to sign any leases for the building.

“In Midtown, being a year out … the level of interest and presentations I felt were on par with what I kind of [was] expecting,” Scott said.

Rendering of the 14th & Spring mixed-use project in Midtown


Colliers Senior Vice President Jessica Doyle said Midtown will continue to be a primary destination choice for companies coming from the West Coast and Northeast, especially technology firms.

“The number of large deals out in the market is very encouraging,” Doyle said. “We still are seeing the most large deals that I’ve ever seen in my career.”

Greenstone is far from the only developer vying for those deals: According to CoStar data compiled by Transwestern, developers are planning more than 8.5M SF of additional office projects, including New City Properties and Cousins Properties‘ 200K SF joint venture development next door to 725 Ponce, Cousins’ planned 390K SF tower at 901 West Peachtree St. and Portman Holdings‘ planned 1020 Spring St. mixed-use complex.

Cousins Properties Executive Vice President Richard Hickson noted the demand for space in Midtown and Buckhead during the company’s July second-quarter earnings call.

“Atlanta, our largest market, continues to see an uptick in demand, particularly from the technology sector, and Midtown and Buckhead are leading the recovery so far this year,” Hickson said. “Our current leasing pipelines in both Buckhead and Midtown are equally encouraging. As we look ahead, we believe we will continue to see a noticeable flight to quality.”

Part of the attraction to Midtown from outside companies is the submarket’s design: Midtown is laid out in a grid pattern, like other major cities, and has plenty of access to Atlanta’s mass transit system, Regent Partners Director Keith Mack said. Other submarkets in the metro area — especially out in the suburbs — were designed for automobile dependency.

“I still think Midtown is kind of the most urban submarket that we have,” Mack said. “Midtown proper, if you can find land, I think it’s still ripe for development.”

Of the nearly 3M SF underway, 65% has been already leased up by tenants, according to Colliers. Many of the planned projects may wait to break ground until they sign a significant anchor tenant.

“Companies like [Microsoft and Google] don’t come along every day, and developers are likely to proceed cautiously with new projects while seeking to land a whale,” Pierce said.

Baile said Selig is taking that approach for the second phase of its West Peachtree project, where it could add an additional 500K SF of office along with 400 apartment units. It pre-leased the first phase, securing both Google and the law firm Smith Gambrell & Russell, before putting shovels in the dirt.

“We need to have some momentum on another office lease,” Baile said. “That will be the catalyst for us on breaking ground.”


September 22, 2021

Jarred Schenke, Bisnow Atlanta

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Agent: Townhomes in East Lake’s new commercial hub set sales records

Ell Square is the residential component of the Hosea + 2nd project


The last facet to fill out the four corners of East Lake’s new commercial hub has been a hit with townhome buyers, according to the project’s sellers.

Atlanta homebuilder JackBilt has begun topping out the first phase of a 20-townhome venture that’s claiming the sole empty corner at Hosea + 2nd. The broader project has replaced derelict buildings and vacant lots with restaurants, offices, and a salon the past five years.

Designed by TSW Architects, the four-story townhomes are called ELL Square for “East Lake Line,” a nod to the neighborhood’s nearby borders with Oakhurst and Kirkwood.

Half of six units listed thus far under contract, with prices beginning at $635,000 for three bedrooms and three bathrooms (plus two halves) in 2,060 square feet.

On the top end, the community is notching what listing agent Allen Snow of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty calls “record sales numbers.”

How the townhomes are filling the last empty corner of Hosea + 2nd, the southwest quadrant. Courtesy of JackBilt; designs, TSW Architects

That includes a larger, three-bedroom, 2,412-square-foot home that’s set to close in November for $749,000, according to Snow.

No other townhouse in East Lake—or in next-door neighborhoods Kirkwood and East Atlanta, for that matter—has sold for more than $700,000, according to listing services records.

Snow says five townhomes in the first phase have sold or have contracts, priced from $625,000, with most in the high $600,000s to low $700,000s.

Positioned on the southwest corner, the Ell Square townhomes include garages and rooftop outdoor patios with fireplaces. A dozen will have the option for elevators. Planned communal amenities include a dog park and a central courtyard “square” with a lawn, firepit, and seating.

Planned interior aesthetics at ELL Square.Courtesy of JackBilt; designs, TSW Architects

A sample top-floor deck with fireplace.Courtesy of JackBilt; designs, TSW Architects

The first phase of 10 is under construction now, expected to finish in coming months. Renderings suggest an amalgamation of traditional and more contemporary styles that echo recent Hosea + 2nd additions.

JackBilt purchased the last undeveloped Hosea + 2nd quadrant from the owners of Fellini’s Pizza and La Fonda restaurants, Clay Harper and Mike Nelson. Those business partners had bought the four East Lake corners in 2015 from the Cousins Family Foundation, an organization that’s earned national attention for its work revitalizing East Lake since 1993.

Hosea + 2nd won the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Award of Excellence for contributions to the city’s urban fabric in 2017. Its tenants include restaurants Poor Hendrix, Mix’D Up Burgers, Perc Coffee Roasters, Japanese-Korean restaurant Salaryman, and the first location of Lake & Oak BBQ.

Hair salon Cameo and the offices of Purpose Built Communities, a national nonprofit founded by developer Tom Cousins and chaired by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, round out the roster.

The last available retail space—2,300 square feet, with an 800-square-foot wraparound patio—has been claimed by Hippin’ Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar. It’s one of Georgia’s first Black-owned breweries, with another location having opened this year in East Atlanta Village.

Kitty-corner from the townhomes, the Hippin’ Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar corner space is seen under buildout in April.

Co-owner Clarence Boston previously told Urbanize Atlanta he hoped to open the second brewery in East Lake in June. That didn’t happen, but an interior buildout is underway, and the brewery’s Instagram lists the second location as “coming soon.”


SEPTEMBER 17, 2021, 8:29AM


Urbanize Atlanta

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Site prep for Midtown’s Tech Square, Phase III is happening

Georgia Tech: Work between now and February to set stage for multi-tower build


Georgia Tech is putting plans in motion that officials say will set the stage for the next phase of Tech Square’s evolution: a block-altering, multi-tower project that’s been percolating for more than two years.

Schools officials released a traffic control plan Friday to help usher pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers around demolition set for the block bounded by West Peachtree, Spring, and 5th streets, and Biltmore Place. That’s one block north of Tech Square’s Coda, a John Portman and Associates-designed office tower.

Two low-rise buildings fronting West Peachtree Street will be razed for what demolition permits describe as “an interim parking lot on gravel and grass pavers.”

The two low-rise West Peachtree Street buildings in question.

That eastern side of the block is being converted into a temporary campus “flex area” for additional parking and greenspace, where outdoor concerts, food trucks, and pop-up restaurants are also expected to be staged in the short term.

The flex space will eventually house a complex totaling 400,000 square feet with at least two towers.

The most recent Phase III rendering available. Georgia Tech says designs in this artistic interpretation are likely to change.

Named for philanthropists Penny and William “Bill” George, the George Tower will be home to the highly ranked H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, in addition to other programs, according to Georgia Tech.

The second high-rise, Scheller Tower, will house Tech’s graduate and executive education programs in the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business.

Tech officials say both new Phase III towers are scheduled to open by 2025.

In the meantime, demolition work will close sections of the block’s existing parking lot and sidewalks.

To help mitigate that, part of 5th Street’s westbound lane will be converted into a bike lane, while eastbound lanes remain open to cars and bikes. Biltmore Place will be westbound only, according to project leaders.

This preparatory work for Phase III is set to last until February, and updates on construction are expected to be issued in coming months.

Plans for the Midtown block throughout fall and winter.

The block and bike lanes in question at 5th and Spring Streets, as seen in December.

The first sections of Tech Square opened in 2003, transforming what had been barren lots on the western edge of Midtown into an educational hub on the opposite side of the Connector from Georgia Tech’s campus.

The greenspace-laden Fifth Street Bridge Park debuted four years later as a means to pleasantly connect the two university entities.


SEPTEMBER 13, 2021, 8:29AM


Urbanize Atlanta

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