Big Park, MARTA Extension On Tap For CP
A MARTA rail extension that will shoot up a further 12 miles north to McGinnis Ferry Road with five extra stops could be the most likely major rail expansion to happen, says the transit organization's Amanda Rhein. (Imagine that knitting project you've always wanted to tackle—you'll have time on the train.)
Amanda was one of our panelists at yesterday's 4th Annual Future of Central Perimeter event where 300 CRE pros joined us at The Retreat at Perimeter Summit. Amanda (far right with moderator Crown Realty's Charlie Brown, Cooper Carry's Bill Halter and Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis) outlined some big upcoming projects for MARTA, a system she says has been gaining more popular support since fixing its balance sheet under the leadership of Keith Parker. Amanda says MARTA is exploring three different rail expansion opportunities, but the one that would extend the GA 400 line is the most likely to move forward.
MARTA also has been stirring the development world by offering various stations for TOD redevelopment projects, including Walton Communities plan for King Station, seen here. So far, MARTA has issued RFPs for five stations including Avondale and Chamblee. “We will be making announcements of the other two this year,” Amanda says. “We also love to partner with neighboring owners to improve access to stations.” (Getting there is half the battle.)
JLL's Kay Younglove (here with Hines Interest's John Heagy admitting he can chronicle some 30 years of Central Perimeter development), who also is a member of the Perimeter Community Improvement District board, says the PCID is right now looking to facilitate the creation of a Central Park for Central Perimeter. The organization is eyeing five acres of land that runs along Perimeter Center Parkway, north of the Dunwoody MARTA station, beneath the MARTA tracks to create a park, complete with walking trails and even the possibility that the massive concrete track risers could be illuminated and converted to an iconic landmark feature as part of the park's design. “This park could be such a plus for the market and creating a sense of place that I think is lacking,” Kay says.
John (on left with Bisnow's Brian Kinslow and Kay) says the TSPLOST loss two years ago made what is happening today with MARTA hard to imagine. “We're actually talking about adding hard rail. If you asked me even two years ago if that was a possibility, I'd say you're crazy,” he says. (To which we would have replied, "we prefer logically challenged.") “Atlanta is just one of these cities that's really resilient. We got major companies now looking at Atlanta once again.” But he, too, also called for the need for more housing in Central Perimeter: “If you want a picture of what this market is going to look like in 10 years, look at Midtown,” he says. “We need more of that kind of housing to attract [Millennials]."
And lest we forget about the State Farm campus, both Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis (here) and Cooper Carry's Bill Halter anted in on that project's impact. And why State Farm and KDC selected the site for its massive campus. As Mike points out, within a two-mile radius, there are 12,000 apartment units, with another 3,000 expected on the GID site. Fifteen years ago, Mike says, Central Perimeter lost favor because people had to commute here. “Now there's thousands of apartment units within walking distance of State Farm.” (Leave the bumper to bumper traffic to the geese.) Bill says State Farm's decision shows the importance of both MARTA and the multifamily presence here—and the need for more.
SDM Partners' Steve Martin (far right with John, Kay and moderator DTZ's Chris White) says another thing driving Central Perimeter is capital investment. “There is so much money out there driving prices,” Steve says. “You know, Perimeter Center is Downtown Atlanta. Perimeter Center in my mind is already quasi urban.”