Housing Will Come to Underground Once 'Perspectives Change'
The new owners of Underground Atlanta envision a 24-hour environment that will boast housing--when people have a different idea about the Downtown Atlanta landmark. In some of the first public comments made since buying it, WRS' Art Kepes says multifamily housing could eventually come there. “Once people's perspectives of Underground have changed, we'll see a huge influx of residential there,” he said this morning at JLL 2015 Atlanta Commercial Real Estate Forecast Breakfast at the St Regis in Buckhead. Art also says the location is ideal for a grocery store, given 20,000 people live and work around Underground, and he's even considering a music venue in Kenny's Alley, the likes of which were last seen during Underground's heyday.
But the conversation this morning on urban development centered on Millennials, with Art, Pope & Land's Jay Land (here) and Atlanta Beltline CEO Paul Morris on hand. Jay says the redevelopment intown is all about catering to the young generation. “We're trying to respond to the marketplace and the demand from those users,” he says. “Those employees are searching for this new sense of community.”
Paul says a critical mass of Millennials is needed in an area for investors to take a chance on urban redevelopment. That was proven with Ponce City Market, where Jamestown Properties now commands north of $30/SF for what essentially is loft office, he says. “They even recognize that the demand is so great that 500k SF was eaten up faster than they expected,” Paul says. He also says local government needs to enter into a “marriage” with developers and be prepared to offer flexible zoning to respond to market forces.