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 

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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.

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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

Exploring the Beltline’s downtown Connector corridor and what it could mean for Atlanta

Recently acquired “critical link” aims to open Beltline and downtown access for English Avenue, Bankhead, beyond

It’sIt’s a drizzly afternoon at a place most Atlantans have never been: an elevated, abandoned railroad corridor directly west of Bank of America Plaza, the city’s tallest building. Given the corridor’s narrow width, height above neighborhood streets, and skyline views across rooftops and graffiti-strewn warehouses, it feels a bit like New York City’s High Line, in some nascent early phase before the tourist influx.

Closer to the corridor than Midtown sky-rises, however, are scenes indicative of economic activity (and disparity) most Atlantans are very familiar with. Along Northside Drive, a 12-acre, mixed-income redevelopment of Herndon Homes led by Atlanta Housing Authority looks like a rolling pasture of red clay; it’s meant to be a catalyst for future development but also a beacon of diversity. Meanwhile, even closer, the exterior wall of a film production studio is being enlivened with a Greg Mike mural, in collaboration with Porsche.

It’s the disparate forces of a changing Atlanta commingling, and this railroad corridor—a future Atlanta Beltline link that leaders call crucial—is right in the middle of it.

In February, Beltline officials announced they’d closed a deal with church-led Bethursday Development Corporation to use $5.1 million in TSPLOST dollars and acquire a former rail segment described as a “major piece” and “critical link” to the grand scheme of multi-use trails across Atlanta.

The dotted blue line shows the most recently purchased path area. The bold purple section represents the “kudzu line” and a planned Beltline section branching north.
Atlanta Beltline Inc.

Stretching three-quarters of a mile, the corridor had been owned by several religious groups and colloquially known as the “church line.” It starts where Northside Drive meets Joseph E. Boone Boulevard, across the street from the Georgia World Congress Center.

From there, it extends northwest to Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, through an area with an unsavory, drug-addled reputation known as “the Bluff,” before linking with another nicknamed segment: the 1.8-mile “kudzu line,” which will eventually be incorporated as part of the Beltline’s Westside Trail.

If that’s confusing, take heart in knowing the pastiche of trail monikers is going away soon.

A closer look at the kudzu line (in blue), which was purchased by the Beltline for $6.3 million in August, and the planned mainline Beltline it would link to.
Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The entire three-mile trail will be known as the Westside Beltline Connector. And it will allow anyone at, say, Centennial Olympic Park to bicycle, ride e-scooters, jog, or simply walk from downtown, via protected lanes, to the mainline Beltline and under-construction Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry, planned to be the city’s largest green space.

More importantly, project leaders say, the collaboration between the Beltline and PATH Foundation will lend transportation options and trail connectivity to neighborhoods—namely English Avenue, Bankhead, Knight Park, and Howell Station—that have thus far been largely cut off.

“You talk to folks in English Avenue and Vine City, and they feel a little disconnected to the Beltline, because they’re not neighborhoods that are right on it,” says Beltline spokeswoman Jenny Odom. “This will connect them into the Beltline, very directly.”

When the latest corridor purchase was announced in February, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom described it as helping pave the way “for a more unified and accessible Atlanta.” We recently ventured with project officials into the swampy corridor, following a string of stormy days, for a firsthand look at how this unification vision might play out.


“We’re going to make this trail a showstopper,” predicts PATH Foundation executive director Ed McBrayer. “I hope the Westside is ready to get something really cool.”

As they have with projects spanning from Proctor Creek to the wildly popular Eastside Trail, PATH is collaborating with the Beltline to make the Connector piece a reality. McBrayer describes it as a means of traveling paved trails and bike lanes from around Ponce City Market and points east to downtown, the Westside, and potentially all the way to the Silver Comet Trail.

Along the way, the Connector trail will bisect English Avenue, which the New York Times described in 2017 as one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Southeast, where roughly 40 percent of residents were living in poverty. Alongside neighboring Vine City, police data showed English Avenue as being the city’s most high-crime area for years, in terms of calls for assistance and violent offenses; but since 2016, crimes across all categories have plunged by more than 40 percent, thanks to the installation of surveillance cameras, homes reserved for officers, and the broader philanthropic efforts of groups such as the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and Quest, according to the Atlanta Police Foundation.

But despite a retention strategy—including an Anti-Displacement Tax Relief Fund for homeowners that launched in 2017—the area’s population continues to dip, and just 17 percent of residents in the broader Westside are homeowners, as officials told Curbed Atlanta earlier this year.

In places, the Connector piece provides the flipside view of Atlanta than what Eastside Trail patrons see: landmarks such as Westin Peachtree Plaza and the Coca-Cola Headquarters sweep off to Atlantic Station’s high-rises at left. From a socioeconomic standpoint, a place like English Avenue might be the flipside of tony neighborhoods such as Virginia-Highland, but that doesn’t mean residents won’t have a voice, as project leaders stress. McBrayer says community feedback in forthcoming meetings, likely beginning with NPU-L this month, will dictate what the trail becomes and how it’s used.

“We’re already done the survey, gotten it back, and we’re going to propose an alignment with illustrations and seek neighborhood feedback,” McBrayer says. “If they want a connection to a particular street, then we’ll try to work that in. If they don’t want railing on a particular overlook, then we can change.

“We want to assimilate into the neighborhood as best we can,” he adds. “There will be plenty of places to get on the trail, and it’ll become an integral part of the neighborhood.”


PATH has recently installed a cycle track leading out of downtown on Marietta Boulevard and, two years ago, bike lanes that span over Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard.

Where those meet Northside Drive is where the new Connector segment will begin.

Next, an existing tree-lined park space across Northside Drive from the GWCC could act as a respite for trail patrons.

Renderings for the Connector trail’s southernmost beginnings are too tentative to publicly share, but plans generally call for the path to boomerang around these GWCC beehives (below) and then bridge over Joseph E. Boone Boulevard, the gateway to Vine City.

Due to the proximity of a substation and transmission lines next door, Georgia Power has to sign off on trail plans here, and that process is ongoing, says Stacey Patton, the Beltline’s vice president of real estate.

A complete streets makeover is underway on Joesph E. Boone Boulevard, a couple of blocks east of the forthcoming, $45 million Rodney Cook Sr. Park.

The abandoned railroad corridor is visible at right (below), and a new trail bridge planned to cross over this street will have to meet higher clearance standards than one demolished years ago.

“The pedestrian bridge we’re going to be building will have extraordinary views of downtown,” says McBrayer. “And we’re going to have a plaza up on the hump, if you will, where everybody’s going to be taking photos of downtown and everything. It’s unobstructed views from the Westside.”

Next is a view from Jones Avenue, looking back toward Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Engineers are assessing now whether this bridge—and another three blocks north at Jett Street—can be refurbished and reused.

The railroad spur, when active, serviced industrial properties on both sides of the corridor. This section has been dormant for two decades, says Patton.

The bridge over Jones Avenue, from below, as the trail heads toward Meldrum Street.

Next the trail will dip back to street-grade and cut behind the Northside Village Apartments, which face Northside Drive. Plans call for widening an existing sidewalk and slinking behind the building here.

Beyond the apartments, the trail corridor rises again, where work to clear trash—including more than 300 tires to date—and vegetated debris is ongoing.

“It is so sweet,” says Patton of the views from this vantage. “One of the nicest [Beltline] elevations.”

At Jett Street, as seen from the sidewalk below, is the second old railroad bridge undergoing an engineering analysis.

Beyond that is a bridge-less section over Cameron Madison Alexander Boulevard—the second of three elevated gaps where bridges will have to be rebuilt, all still in design. PATH’s McBrayer downplays bridge construction as being any sort of significant hurdle.

“We’re on about our 80th bridge,” he says. “Bridges are no big deal.”

Over a lost section of Meldrum Street, where a campsite has replaced vehicle traffic, another gap is visible.

Beyond this point, the Connector trail will swoop down to ground level again and remain there, via more recently decommissioned railroad lines, until reaching the future mainline Beltline.

The cleared corridor, as seen from North Avenue, looking toward Travis Street, is no longer elevated.

Abutting the trail is Grace Midtown, one of six churches along the trail, where a renovation that installed picturesque outdoor seating areas is expected to wrap in coming weeks.

Just across Travis Street from the church, with a side lot fronting the trail, is rapper T.I.’s newly opened Trap Music Museum and Escape Room, where weekend entry lines sometimes span the block.

Continuing northwestward on the trail, the Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway bridge is reflected in puddles along the corridor.

Beltline officials provided this image and rendering depicting how the trail and adjacent properties could look at Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway.

Tentative plans for the Westside Beltline Connector as it would pass under Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. [Images courtesy of Atlanta Beltline Inc.] A photo of a worn-down building bordered by a thick brush of green trees. In the background is the Atlanta skyline. and A rendering of an updated building with the word “Cafe” on it is superimposed over the photo of the dilapidated structure flanked by trees.

After crossing several other at-grade streets, the corridor enters what previously was known as the kudzu line, as seen here near Law Street.

The rail line through this area has been inactive for about five years, and CSX is expected to have all remaining infrastructure removed by May, Patton says.

Next the corridor passes beneath a Marietta Boulevard bridge and meets active railroad lines.

Patton says the Beltline bought a small, triangular parcel in this area to bring the trail up to Marietta Boulevard, where lanes to Huff Road are planned to be converted into the Beltline, providing a link between the existing Westside Trail and the future northwestern segment.

The hope is that PATH, at that point, will break west to link with the existing, 61-mile Silver Comet Trail.

As for a timeline, officials say Atlantans can expect to see construction on this more pedestrian-friendly Connector soon.

The Beltline’s TSPLOST-funded outlay of more than $11 million paid only for acquisition of the rail corridors, a means of securing the land. Cost estimates for the full three-mile Connector are pending design finalizations, but each segment is planned to open with lighting, cameras, and other infrastructure.

The Beltline is still working to buy a few necessary, adjacent parcels, while McBrayer says PATH is raising and contributing $5 million from the private sector.

The first planned section where Joseph E. Boone Boulevard meets Northside Drive is almost ready to enter permitting phases, McBrayer says. Following neighborhood meetings, construction to bring the trail from there to the Northside Village Apartments, a section of a few blocks, is expected to launch this fall and take about six months to finish, likely next spring.

Meanwhile, the former kudzu line section will enter design phases and ancillary property acquisitions. As McBrayers sees it, the whole Connector trail can be funded and built within three years, providing the missing link to downtown and vice versa.

“To have the connection to downtown—I think it’s amazing,” says Patton. “There were so many people down there at the Super Bowl; with an electric bike rental, they could have been at the quarry park.”