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Foreclosure Auction On Tap For Downtown Atlanta Office Conversion

The effort to convert a Downtown Atlanta office building into apartments is in doubt as the developer’s lender moves to foreclose on a $20M loan.

41 Marietta St. in Downtown Atlanta, which is headed to a foreclosure auction in May.

An affiliate of the multifamily lender Arbor Realty Trust filed a notice Wednesday against the owner of 41 Marietta St., a 13-story, 135K SF office tower at the corner of Forsyth and Marietta streets in Downtown Atlanta.

The owner, 41 Marietta Street Main GA LLC, is an affiliate of Plano, Texas-based Wolfe Investments, according to state records. The $20M loan, originated in July 2021, will be sold on the Fulton County Courthouse steps on May 7, according to the foreclosure notice.

Wolfe and joint venture partners Ike Bams and Jon Williams, both co-founders of Texas-based residential developer Bluelofts, were planning to convert the nearly 50-year-old tower into a 120-unit apartment project that was to include a post office, lounges and retail spaces on the ground floor, Atlanta Agent Magazine reported in 2022.

Wolfe and Bluelofts didn’t return calls seeking comment. Johnny Latzak, an attorney with Atlanta-based Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner who is representing Arbor Realty, declined to comment on the foreclosure but said the developers had started the process of the conversion.

“I know they did some work out there,” Latzak said. “I don’t know exactly what level of work has been done.”

Wolfe purchased 41 Marietta in 2018 for $11.5M, according to Fulton County records. The county valued the property at $11.8M in 2023.

Troubled loans have piled up for Arbor, which has a portfolio of more than $12B of commercial real estate loans concentrated in Sun Belt multifamily. 

The lender reported more than $262M of delinquent loans on its books at the end of the fourth quarter, up from $150.3M at the end of Q3, Bisnow previously reported.

As of January, borrowers on a quarter of Arbor's securitized debt were late on their debt payments, The Wall Street Journal reported. Its frenzied activity in the multifamily boom of 2021 and early 2022 has come under pressure as interest rates have risen and borrowers have struggled to pay off maturing short-term debt.

Arbor is one of the most shorted stocks, and a short seller report from late 2023 highlighted its high-interest, short-term loans as a source of potential trouble. But Arbor executives have said the company is positioned to weather the rise in delinquency.

“We’re experiencing elevated delinquencies. One of the many reasons this is occurring is certain borrowers are taking the position that they will default first and negotiate second, which is not a strategy that works well with us,” Arbor President and CEO Ivan Kaufman said during a February earnings call. “Borrowers need to bring capital to the table to rightsize their deals, and raising capital is a lengthy process in today's climate.”