Midtown Connector Transportation Improvement Project

The team that is staffing the Midtown Connector Transportation Improvement Project – the MCP Foundation – has released its second 15 minute video providing background and an overview of the proposed project. 

This second installment focuses on elevated deck projects in other cities that have been studied, key learnings and other features that have inspired the design of this project. 

It can be viewed here: https://abetterconnector.com/community/inspiring-inspiration/

Atlanta’s housing supply shortage expected to continue for some time

The housing supply shortage is expected to get more extreme as homebuyer demand continues to outweigh inventory levels, a new study found.

As the spring home buying season begins, HouseCanary’s latest Market Pulse report compared data between March 2021 and March 2020 and found the volume of new monthly listings nationwide to be down 11.5% year over year. Last month, 284,298 new listings were placed on the market, a 0.9% decrease compared to March 2020. Additionally, 348,422 listings went under contract across the country, a 22.7% increase from March 2020.

New listing activity year-over-year decreased by 24.3% for homes in the $200,000 and under range. Homes listed between $200,000 and $400,000 had a decrease of 13.2%. New listing activity increased in houses priced above $400,000. New home listings between $400,000 and $600,000 were up 15.1%, and homes priced from $600,000 to $1 million were up 47%.

Home price appreciation continues to accelerate as the ongoing supply shortage drives prices up, the report found. That shortage is expected to continue over the coming months. The median single-family home price for the week ending April 2 was $378,408, up 16.5% year over year. The median closed price was $367,242, up 22.4%. Additionally, the month-over-month median price of single-family listings was up 2.2% and median prices of closed listings were up 5.4%.

“As we enter the spring home buying season, the market is experiencing extremely limited supply compounded by an outsized level of demand that shows no signs of easing,” HouseCanary Co-founder and CEO Jeremy Sicklick said in a press release. “Bidding wars have broken out across the country, and homes on the upper end of the price spectrum are selling at significantly higher rates compared to a year ago. The extreme supply shortage continues to put upward pressure on single-family home prices – a more favorable environment for sellers – and we expect this trend to continue over the coming months. Looking further ahead, however, rising mortgage rates could cool future price growth as potential buyers continue to get priced out of the market.

For the week ending April 2, new listings in Georgia were down 33.4% from week ending March 13, 2020, down 21.3% year over year and down 14.3% week over week.

During that same time period, homes stayed on the market for 23 days, down 47.7% from week ending March 13, 2020 and down 47.7% year over year.

The report also found the median new list price of a home in Georgia was $314,450, up 12.3% from week ending March 13, 2020 ($279,900) and up 18.7% year over year ($265,000).

Additionally, there were 2,810 listings under contract week ending April 2, a 1.9% increase from week ending March 13, 2020 (2,757) and up 26.5% year over year (2,222).

Hundreds of apartments planned to replace shuttered hotel near Beltline

Nearly 400 apartments are planned to be built on the site of the vacant InTown Suites in Piedmont Heights adjacent to the Buford Spring Connector.

Nearly 400 apartments are planned to be built on the site of the vacant InTown Suites in Piedmont Heights adjacent to the Buford Spring Connector.

A California developer plans to replace a shuttered extended-stay hotel near the Beltline with almost 400 apartments.

Fairfield Residential is proposing to demolish the InTown Suites at 1944 Piedmont Circle and build 392 apartments. A roughly 500-space parking deck is also planned.

Fairfield needs the OK from the Beltline Design Review Committee before it can start the redevelopment. The committee will be tasked with preserving a piece of Atlanta history — stone stairs on the site of the new apartments that once led to the home of Edwin Plaster.

His family was among the area’s first settlers in the early 1800s. A historical marker commemorates “Gold Tooth John,” the Plaster’s handyman who built the steps.

The steps and historical marker are located where a new sidewalk for the apartments would go.

The marker’s inscription commemorates the Plaster family for its contributions, including construction of Plasters Bridge Road, now known as Piedmont Road. The inscription, which also credits Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman for being the originator of urban renewal in Atlanta, is about 90% humor and 10% history, according to an online description. As for Gold Tooth John, history says his ghost wanders the halls of the Intown Suites, a former Holiday Inn from the 1960s.

The InTown Suites has been an eyesore in Piedmont Heights, one of the neighborhoods the Beltline runs through. It stands next to the Buford Spring Connector and near Ansley Park. Midtown Bowl is also close by.

Paces Properties, behind such projects as Krog Street Market, Atlanta Dairies and Stove Works, purchased InTown Suites in 2016 for $8 million. In 2018, Paces went before the Design Review Committee with plans for an adaptive reuse of the property. The project was to include Atlanta’s first Bunkhouse hotel.

The city issued a permit in 2019 to Bunkhouse Atlanta Hotel to gut and demolish the interior and much of the exterior but to keep the main framework of the building intact. The demolition permit expired at the end of 2019. In February, the city issued a stop-work order.

The Piedmont Park Civic Association’s website includes a summary of a recent meeting with a Fairfield representative. Fairfield is under contract to buy the site from Paces Properties.

By   –  Reporter, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Business Chronicle

New City Buys 19-Acre Site Near Future Microsoft Campus

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The developer behind 725 Ponce and the $1B Fourth Ward development has purchased a large site roughly a mile from the future Microsoft campus in Westside Atlanta.

New City Properties has acquired a 19-acre parcel at 930 Marietta Blvd. for $15.7M. The seller is listed as Metro Atlanta Land Group LLC, a company that is registered to Gwendolyn Dean Dykes of Duluth.

The property was once home to a concrete recycling plant, but today remains largely vacant, except for a single empty warehouse building, New City President Jim Irwin told Bisnow.

The site abuts Westside Reservoir Park and is roughly a mile northeast of the Microsoft campus site in the Grove Park neighborhood. The area has become a target of new development in recent years since Microsoft purchased 90 acres from former baseball star Mark Teixeira, who had planned a large mixed-use development near the park called Quarry Yards.

New City plans to break ground on a new mixed-use project at some point, Irwin said. The site falls under the Atlanta BeltLine mixed-use zoning classification.

New City built offices over retail at 725 Ponce, where it signed BlackRock to 120K SF, and included a large office component alongside a hotel and apartments at its upcoming Fourth Ward project, where MailChimp plans to move its headquarters.

But Irwin said he was unsure if New City would build any office at the new 19-acre Westside property.

“We don’t yet have a specific plan,” Irwin told Bisnow.

Instead, Irwin said he wants to take a year or more and consult with residents of nearby neighborhoods as well as members of the various Neighborhood Planning Units to hear what they would envision for the site. The final plan will be influenced by the neighborhoods’ input, Irwin said.

“I expect to spend over a year connecting with all of the neighboring property owners and neighborhoods, very intentionally, not generating specific plans until we’ve heard from everyone,” he said. “This is really an opportunity to redeem a piece of land and weave it back into the sort of the network of the neighborhood.”

While Microsoft has yet to release its development plans, the tech giant previously announced that it will not only develop space for its employees, but also a mix of other commercial developments, including affordable housing and retail.

New City previously redeveloped in three warehouses on Defoor Hills Road into loft office in Upper Westside along with Sweetwater Holdings and Wyatt Capital.

April 19, 2021

By Jarred Schenke, Bisnow Atlanta 

Link To Article

 

 

First look: 20 townhomes to complete East Lake’s new commercial village

ELL Square’s initial section goes vertical as brewery progresses across street

How all four corners of East Lake’s new mixed-use village will eventually look is coming into focus.

Atlanta homebuilder JackBilt has provided renderings to Urbanize Atlanta that illustrate townhome plans for the last empty corner at Hosea + 2nd, a project that’s 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. Renderings suggest an amalgamation of traditional and more contemporary styles that echo recent Hosea + 2nd additions.

Positioned on the southwest corner, the 20 townhomes will each span between 2,000 and 2,200 square feet with garages and rooftop outdoor patios with fireplaces. Prices start in the mid-$500,000s, according to JackBilt founder Jack Zampell. A dozen will have the option for elevators.

“We’re not officially on the market yet, but the word is already on the street, and as a result, we have a sizeable list of interested buyers,” Allen Snow, an Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty associate broker, wrote via email. “We already have our first home under contract for $659,900.”

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The first phase of 10 homes is under construction now, expected to finish later this year. All ELL Square townhomes will have three bedrooms and three and ½ bathrooms, with an optional half-bathroom on the roof, plus heated indoor lounges with wet bars that can function as flex spaces.

Planned communal amenities include a dog park and a central courtyard “square” with a lawn, firepit, and seating.

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 garnered national attention for its work to revitalize East Lake since 1993.

JackBilt’s single-family and townhome ventures are found in neighborhoods from Morningside and Virginia-Highland to Old Fourth Ward and Kirkwood.

In 2017, Hosea + 2nd won the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Award of Excellence for contributions to the city’s urban fabric.

So far, tenants include restaurants Poor Hendrix, Mix’D Up Burgers, Perc Coffee Roasters, Japanese-Korean restaurant Salaryman, and 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. The business will be one of Georgia’s first Black-owned breweries, with another location under construction in East Atlanta Village.

Co-owner Clarence Boston tells Urbanize Atlanta he’s “shooting for June” to open the brewery’s doors in East Lake.

Have a closer look at ELL Square plans in the gallery above, and here’s a before/after of the corner where Hippin’ Hops is being built out now:

April 16, 2021, 12:11PM
Article by Josh Green

Real Estate Notebook: Toll Brothers increases height of Midtown development

An illustration of the lower level of the new Toll Bros. dual=tower project in Midtown.

An illustration of the lower level of the new Toll Bros. dual tower project in Midtown.

Toll Brothers is increasing the height of its latest development in Midtown to include a 37-story and 35-story tower.

Toll Brothers, one of the country’s largest residential developers, wants to fill the project with student housing and apartments. Its plans have changed from two years ago when the Pennsylvania-based company proposed a 22-story student housing tower and 27-story apartment tower.

Toll Bros. did not explain the reasons for its change and could not immediately be reached for comment. It wants to develop 264 student housing units and 376 apartments.The project would be built in two phases, with the apartment tower going up first at 1018 West Peachtree Street. The student-housing tower would rise on Spring Street.

A 9-story parking deck between the towers would include more than 600 spaces. About 5,000 square feet of commercial space is planned for the ground floor of the apartment tower. A patio for outdoor dining could be placed on West Peachtree.

WDG Architecture out of Washington, D.C., is designing the project. Toll Bros. originally used Brock Hudgins Architects.

Toll Brothers paid just over $21 million for the 1.5-acre site a few blocks north of Technology Square, one of the country’s top innovation districts and home to a growing number of corporate headquarters.

Student housing development is growing in Midtown with numerous projects planned or underway by Emory University, Georgia Tech and Savannah College of Art and Design. Downtown, a 25-story student housing tower is planned near Georgia State University’s campus. The $87 million project at John Wesley Dobbs Avenue and Courtland Street would feature 247 units and 742 beds, with up to 15% of the units set aside for working class households at 80% of Area Median Income and renting from about $1,100 to $1,900.

Perspective: Focus on workforce housing

A developer wants to build a 31-story tower with apartments for teachers and other school employees in downtown’s Fairlie Poplar district, one of the largest commitments so far to workforce housing.

New Jersey-based RBH Group proposes the $45 million project at the corner of Ted Turner Drive and Walton Street. The 400,000-square-foot tower will include 455 units, classroom space and a public community room. On the top 13 floors, 229 units will form what the developer calls a Teachers Village. About 140 units will be for households making 60% or 80% of the Area Median Income.

For example, a one-bedroom unit at 60% AMI rents for $864. Market rate is $1,560.RBH Group will work with Atlanta Public Schools to market the units to teachers. The developer wants at least 70% of the tower’s residents to be teachers and school employees. The remaining 216 units will be rented to seniors who are at least 55. A portion of the tower’s 26,000-square-feet of retail will be reserved for small and minority-owned business.

By  –  Senior Editor/News, Atlanta Business Chronicle

April 16th, 2021.

Link to Article

Final sections of East Lake’s new commercial village plows ahead with 20 homes

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Townhouse prices at Hosea + 2nd will start in mid-$500Ks, as a brewery also comes together

 

Over the past five years, a moribund intersection of vacant buildings and empty lots in East Lake has evolved into Hosea + 2nd, an award-winning hub of mixed uses that functions as the historic neighborhood’s main commercial village.

The one missing component at Hosea + 2nd is housing, but that’s quickly changing.

Seasoned Atlanta homebuilder JackBilt is plowing ahead with 20 townhomes that will constitute the final component of Hosea + 2nd, taking the southwest corner where Hosea Williams Drive meets Second Avenue.

JackBilt founder Jack Zampell tells Urbanize Atlanta the community is called ELL Square (for East Lake Line), reflecting the location where East Lake meets both Oakhurst and Kirkwood.

Zampell says the first phase of 10 homes should go vertical soon, potentially opening by this summer.

All will be four stories, spanning from 2,000 to 2,200 square feet with garages and rooftop outdoor patios with fireplaces. Each will have three bedrooms and three and ½ bathrooms, with an optional half-bathroom on the roof, plus heated indoor lounges with wet bars that can function as flex spaces.

Prices at ELL Square will start in the mid-$500,000s, Zampell says. Renderings are still being finalized.

Zampell says about a dozen townhomes will have elevator options. Planned communal amenities include a dog park and a central courtyard “square” with a lawn, firepit, and seating.

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 garnered national attention for its work to revitalize East Lake since 1993. Intown neighborhoods from Morningside and Virginia-Highland to Old Fourth Ward and Kirkwood are dotted with examples of JackBilt’s single-family homes and townhome communities.

The townhomes aren’t the only buildout afoot at Hosea + 2nd, where all other phases are structurally complete.

The final available retail space—2,300 square feet with an 800-square-foot wraparound patio—has been claimed by Hippin’ Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar, which is set to be one of Georgia’s first Black-owned breweries with locations in East Atlanta and East Lake this year.

Jay Martin of ReDevStudio, the developer of Hosea + 2nd’s first two phases, says the brewery concept requires a full buildout but should open sometime this summer.

A Mexican taqueria concept originally slated for the space “ultimately was unable to open its first brick and mortar location” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin says.

“Our other tenants are doing well through very challenging times,” says Marin. “We’ve obviously tried to do everything we can to help them.”

Those tenants include restaurants Poor Hendrix, Mix’D Up Burgers, Perc Coffee Roasters, Japanese-Korean restaurant Salaryman, and Lake & Oak BBQ, where the brisket in particular has been changing lives since last summer.

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

In 2017, Hosea + 2nd won the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Award of Excellence for contributions to the city’s urban fabric. It was also a finalist for an American Institute of Architects (Georgia) design and honor award for renovation/restoration that year.

January 31, 2021, 11:26PM

Article by Josh Green at Urbanize.City/Atlanta

Link to Article

With New Nonprofit Status, John Marshall Turns Focus to Fundraising

As a nonprofit, the law school will begin to fundraise. The initial aim is to increase scholarships to make John Marshall “more affordable to the population we want to serve,” said Dean Jace Gatewood.

 

John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School started off the new year with nonprofit status, furthering its goal of providing legal education to nontraditional students and those from underserved communities.

John Marshall is the only one of Georgia’s five law schools that is independent and unaffiliated with a university. Until Jan. 1, when its 501(c)(3) status took effect, it was the state’s only for-profit law school.

With the nonprofit status, announced this week, fundraising will become an important part of the law school’s business model. The initial aim is to raise money for scholarships to make John Marshall “more affordable to the population we want to serve,” said John Marshall Dean Jace Gatewood in an interview, and to start legal clinics and other educational programs.

“We’re a school of opportunity, so 501(c)(3) status helps us serve our mission better,” Gatewood said. “We consider ourselves a community asset. We cater to a different student.”

John Marshall has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country, Gatewood said, with 60% racial minorities and 65% women. “Many come from underserved communities and after graduation, our lawyers often go back to those communities,” he said.

In addition to a traditional three-year program, John Marshall offers a part-time evening track for older students who attend law school while working and supporting families.

About one-third of the school’s 300 students are evening students on the 4L track. The only other law school in Georgia offering a part-time option is Georgia State University College of Law, but its evening program is not as extensive.

About one-third of the school’s 300 students are evening students on the 4L track. The only other law school in Georgia offering a part-time option is Georgia State University College of Law, but its evening program is not as extensive.

Gaining nonprofit status was several years in the making, starting with getting buy-in from faculty and students, Gatewood said. The ABA approved John Marshall’s conversion to nonprofit status in 2019, but final approval from the Department of Education was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fundraising

 

For fundraising, the law school is starting with its alumni base of more than 5,000 graduates.

This month, John Marshall hired its first development director, Wendy Aina, from Georgia State University Perimeter College, and last fall it promoted research staff member A.J. Doucett to alumni relations director.

“We have not appealed to alumni for donations before because we did not have a nonprofit entity for them to contribute to. Now we have the mechanism,” Gatewood told the Daily Report in October when John Marshall formed a nonprofit scholarship foundation ahead of obtaining nonprofit status. The foundation provides need-based scholarships to students with financial hardship, separate from existing tuition assistance based on their academic credentials.

Now that the law school is a nonprofit, the dean hopes alumni will be more inclined to contribute, since they “know their dollars are going directly to the students and the mission of the law school.”

Scholarships are a top fundraising priority. Tuition for a full-time John Marshall Law student is currently $44,900. That compares with $60,000 at Emory University Law School and $40,000 at Mercer University Law School, the state’s two private universities.

In-state tuition at the University of Georgia Law School is $17,600 and $15,800 at GSU Law, which are both public.

Clinics are important, Gatewood said, because they offer law students hands-on learning, but they are also expensive, because of the low student-to-faculty ratio.

John Marshall does not have any in-house law clinics right now, the dean said, so its students use internships and externships to gain experience working with actual client matters.

A Long Journey

 

John Marshall’s conversion to nonprofit status has occurred after a two-decade educational adventure for its former owner, educational entrepreneur Michael Markovitz.

Markovitz’s company, Argosy Education Group, took over John Marshall in 1999 at a time when it was facing a critical juncture as one of Atlanta’s three remaining night law schools.

The Georgia Supreme Court had decreed that all law schools in the state must become accredited by the American Bar Association or lose Georgia accreditation, which would mean shutting down. Atlanta’s other two night law schools, Atlanta Law School and Woodrow Wilson College of Law, ended up closing.

Markovitz took Argosy Education Group public in 1999, but in 2001 he bought back John Marshall from Argosy. With an infusion of capital and new management from Markovitz, the law school achieved ABA accreditation in 2005. At the time, it was one of only three independent law schools in the country to be ABA-accredited and the only one that was for-profit.

Markovitz has donated his equity and ownership interest in the school to a newly created Georgia nonprofit, Atlanta Law Center, that now operates Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, effectively giving back the law school’s assets to the law school.

“John Marshall Law School was founded in 1933 as a nonprofit institution with the specific mission of providing legal education for those underserved by the then-existing establishment. That mission has continued uninterrupted to this day,” Markovitz said in an announcement.

“I am now delighted that my initial goals have been realized and the law school can once again become a true community asset, functioning as a fully qualified 501(c)(3) able to accept charitable gifts and donations in furtherance of its mission,” Markovitz said.

By Meredith Hobbs | January 15, 2021 at 02:07 PM

Link to Article in Daily Report.

Atlanta BeltLine to get $2.3M city loan to build ‘vital link’ to Westside neighborhoods

A magenta line marks where the planned Westside BeltLine Connector Trail is to go.

The city’s economic development arm has approved a $2.3 million loan to build a “vital link” connecting the Atlanta Beltline to the Westside, an area that’s on the rise but where some historic communities are still suffering from disinvestment.

The Invest Atlanta board approved loaning Atlanta BeltLine Inc. $2.3 million in Westside Tax Allocation District funding so it can complete construction of the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail in English Avenue and Vine City by February. The spur trail project is expected to spark economic investment in the long-overlooked Westside neighborhoods by providing them a direct link to the Beltline corridor. Millions of dollars in investment has already been made along the main Westside Trail.

Segment one of the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail is currently under construction.

Segment 2 of the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail would extend from Western Avenue to Law Street. The $2.3 million loan is expected to cover costs for segment 1 and segment 2 from Western Avenue to Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard.

The entire 3-mile Westside BeltLine Connector Trail is a partnership between ABI and the PATH Foundation and is divided into three segments. Segment one in English Avenue near the Georgia World Congress Center is already under construction. The $2.3 million would cover costs for segment one and a portion of segment two, ending at Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard because this area is within the Westside TAD boundaries. Cost for segment 3 is not yet known.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. requested the loan after a $150-plus million capital campaign by the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the fundraising arm for the massive urban revitalization project, fell short this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The main Beltline trails have a variety of funding sources, including bonds and Beltline TAD funds. Connector trails and transit, however, rely on additional sources of funding, such as private donations and philanthropic contributions.

The Westside TAD currently has $15.2 million available for new projects with the remaining $58 million restricted to debt service, operating expenses and approved projects, according to Invest Atlanta.

The Atlanta Beltline is a planned 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, parks and transit along old railroad corridors that circle the city’s central core that would connect 45 diverse neighborhoods. At an estimated cost of $5 billion, it is one of the country’s largest urban revitalization and economic development projects.

By  – Reporter, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Business Chronicle
Updated

UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH, UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES

New mega-projects on Atlanta’s west side illustrate growing tension between investment and forced displacement.

Lincoln Property Co. has started pre-development work at Echo Street West, a planned $227 million revitalization of 19 acres at the intersection of Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway and Northside Drive.

New mega-projects on Atlanta’s west side illustrate growing tension between two powerful forces — a desire for investment in the city’s poorest neighborhoods and apprehension it may force displacement of longtime residents.

That dynamic is seen in the recent sale of Quarry Yards, a development site on the edge of the Bellwood Quarry that could transform Grove Park and neighborhoods farther west for a generation. A local real estate affiliate of Microsoft Crop. bought Quarry Yards for $127 million, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Sept. 10. The project is expected to feature office space, market-rate and affordable housing, stores and restaurants.

However, Grove Park neighborhood advocates, who are working on preserving affordable housing and bringing new services to the community, have not yet heard from Microsoft officials or the city.

They are becoming anxious.

Georgia Tech, a pipeline of computer engineering talent, is an influence on Microsoft’s expansion and a driver of growth on the city’s west side, where other vulnerable neighborhoods such as English Avenue are poised for even more change.

Westside Paper, the adaptation of a 15.2-acre former industrial campus.  Third & Urban and FCP are developing the project.
Westside Paper, the adaptation of a 15.2-acre former industrial campus. Third & Urban and FCP are developing the project.

Lincoln Property Co. has started pre-development work at Echo Street West, a planned $227 million revitalization of 19 acres at the intersection of Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway and Northside Drive. It’s just west of Georgia Tech’s campus, where the university is planning a $750-million expansion of Technology Enterprise Park.

“We now sit squarely between two tech giants in Georgia Tech and Microsoft,” Tony Bartlett, executive vice president of Lincoln Property, who leads the firm’s commercial activities in Georgia, recently told Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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Closer to Georgia Tech, a joint venture of Atlanta-based developer Third & Urban and Maryland private equity firm FCP have launched the revitalization of the former The Atlanta Paper Co. plant at 950 West Marietta. Now underway, it will stand by the King Plow Arts Center and Puritan Mill – two projects that started the adaptive reuse development trend more than 20 years ago — and near a cluster of new office buildings, hotels and restaurants in nearby West Midtown.

“Georgia Tech is a huge economic driver,” said Third & Urban partner Chris Faussemagne. “The amount of talented graduates that come out of the university is not only a benefit to our project but to the city of Atlanta.”

What’s happening on Atlanta’s west side tells a larger story about a renaissance of investment and development and population growth inside the city, said Tim Keane, commissioner with the department of planning.

For much of the 80s and 90s, development focused in Atlanta’s northern suburbs along Georgia 400 or on Peachtree Road in places like Buckhead, a wealthy neighborhood on the city’s northern edge.

“If Atlanta continued as a region to invest only on the outskirts of the city, it would have been a problem for everyone,” Keane said. “Atlanta’s most critical shift is the increase in population and investment in the city.”

Indeed the city’s population has surpassed 506,000 and continues to grow.

Keane, however, is also realistic about the challenges an unprecedented wave of investment and development into Atlanta’s poorest neighborhoods will bring. Gentrification can be a divisive term, often borne from the instinct to “be protective of people that have lived here a long time and who are vulnerable to being displaced,” Keane said.

The city is sensitive to the concerns.

“We are doing everything we can to minimize forcible displacement of people,” Keane said.

The west side development boom offers a lens into steps the city took and future actions it could make to prevent downsides of over-development and gentrification. For example, the city created the idea for an anti-displacement tax fund. It could be expanded.

Another idea may be new zoning to create more housing options. For example, what if the regulations were tweaked so that “not all the new houses within neighborhoods have to be large single family homes?” Keane said. “We can create the ability to build more affordably and have a more diverse city.”

Grove Park is a microcosm of tension between much-needed investment and development and the fear of widespread displacement. The neighborhood, which stands along Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway near the Bankhead MARTA station and Bellwood Quarry, is one of Atlanta’s poorest areas. Its average disposable income is just over $20,000. It has no pharmacy or grocery store. Almost one in four residents lack health insurance and some still live on dirt roads.

Debra Edelson, whose work is focused on Grove Park’s anti-displacement and revitalization efforts, said, “All communities on the Westside want more investment. They also want investment that fits their lifestyle and values.”

Debra Edelson, executive director Grove Park Foundation, at Quarry Yards, a development site on the edge of the Bellwood Quarry that could transform Grove Park and neighborhoods.
Debra Edelson, executive director Grove Park Foundation, at Quarry Yards, a development site on the edge of the Bellwood Quarry that could transform Grove Park and neighborhoods.
By  – Commercial Real Estate Editor, Atlanta Business Chronicle