Trails, Transit and Park Spur $650M in New Development

By Geoff Smith

The obvious movie line here is ‘build it and they will come.’ But that is really only partly true. The other part of that is don’t act crazy when they get here.

If you look at the multitude of quality development and redevelopment running through the city of Atlanta, you have to be amazed at what they have been able to pull off. I’ve written extensively over the years about Ponce City Market, the Old Fourth Ward and the developments growing up like trees along the Beltline. Intown Atlanta has become a trendy place in the country to live. Expensive compared to other areas of Atlanta, yes, but that’s another story.

If you are a good city planner, and you want to redevelop your city, your job isn’t to do all of the work yourself. Your job is to know what things attract quality developers to want to invest in your city, and then figure out how to have those things in your city. What has happened in Atlanta has been the result of a multitude of partnerships between the city itself, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, MARTA, The Beltline and a number of other countless organizations and business leaders. The city, chamber and other organizations had the vision and guts to turn a college student’s thesis paper into one of the most significant economic develop projects in the county. Ryan Gravel was a student at GA Tech when he came up with the idea of The Beltline. Today the trail is a reality through the east side of Atlanta, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in new projects along it, and developers are racing to buy up land near where the trail will expand.

With these partnerships in place, and a large, growing portfolio of success-stories, I have stopped being surprised every time I hear of a new, huge development going up in Atlanta.

The latest is a development being called Quarry Yards that is in the works on the west side of intown Atlanta. It hits the trifecta in surrounding amenities for today’s developer: It’s next to the Bankhead MARTA Station, will sit between two parks, one of which will be bigger than Piedmont Park when completed, and will be split by a future expansion of the Beltline. Oh, and there is this other trail in the works that will run near the property from the Beltline to the Chattahoochee River. While we are at it, let’s throw one more cool thing in there: one of the development partners is former Atlanta Brave Mark Teixeira.

The first phase of the project will cost around $400 million and will include 575,000 square feet of Class A office space, 850 residential units, a 300-key hotel, and 75,000 square feet of retail and restaurants. According to reports in Curbed Atlanta, the project will “tap into the industrial roots of the neighborhood” by using architecture that will include a lot of metal and glass. They are talking about using shipping containers for start-up business offices and small restaurants. They are also working with MARTA to expand the Bankhead Station so that it can accommodate longer trains.

Just north of that 70-acre project is a $250-million project that has been submitted. It will convert a 19-acre paving and construction site into a neighborhood with 700 residential units, and possibly some office and retail. All of those residents will have access to the Beltline, the MARTA station and the Westside park at Bellwood Quarry. The city is spending $26.5 million to kick off construction of the park which is converting a quarry into a reservoir and park. The reservoir will provide drinking water for the city and will serve as a park that is 100 acres larger than Piedmont Park.

Let me reiterate the point that this is on the WEST side of Atlanta. For most of us in the suburbs, the furthers west we go when visiting downtown Atlanta is the Mercedes-Benz stadium. This project sits about 2 miles west of that.

Rates did several small rises and drops over the last week, ultimately landing 0.08% above where they were, according to Mortgage News Daily.

What this Means to You:
According to Mortgage News Daily’s Rate Survey, best execution rates for a conventional 30-year fixed are at 4.58%.