Since When Did Land Get So Pricey?
Are land prices in Atlanta getting frothy? Oliver McMillan's Hunter Richardson, one of the city's biggest development champions, thinks so. (That's valuable land in your yard being wasted with garden gnomes.)
Hunter, just hours before the grand opening of Buckhead Atlanta, told the audience of 500 during our Multifamily and Mixed-Use Revolution event last week that "as I look around the marketplace today, I see 2007 land price exuberance. And it's a little scary because that didn't work out."
Hunter (here with our moderator, Cohn Reznick's Jonathan Bartlett, Cushman & Wakefield's Mike Kemether, North American Properties' Mark Toro, JE Dunn Construction's Mike Bartlett, and Jamestown Properties' Jim Irwin at the St. Regis) says land pricing is one of the reasons Ben Carter got burned with what was then known as Streets of Buckhead. He highlighted how Oliver McMillan almost made the same mistake in Houston in 2007 but was saved by “a capital partner with cold feet.”
We trotted over to opening day festivities at Buckhead Atlanta after the event last Thursday, where we caught a glimpse of Regent Partners' David Allman. Hunter says many of Buckhead Atlanta's successes were actually unexpected. “We did a lot of careful planning, and we missed on some things, but we missed in an interesting way,” he says. For instance, Oliver McMillan expected small companies would lease the office space there. “And then the next thing we knew, we land Spanx. And we didn't see that coming,” he says.
Mark Toro also is facing an impending opening day for Avalon in Alpharetta. But he let a little bombshell drop about his company: “We are competing for the next Avalon opportunity.” While Mark himself was mum on where the next Avalon could be, numerous sources say North American Properties is one of the handful of entities bidding on the Glenridge Hall land in Central Perimeter.
The Mayson Family has put more than 70 acres of land near Ga 400 and bisected by Abernathy Road on the market (including the famous house), representing what could be the next big development opportunity in Sandy Springs. CBRE's Scott McGreggor is marketing the site, but did not return calls seeking comment.
Jim Irwin also says that AthenaHealth (with 60k SF) officially opened its doors at Ponce City Market as of yesterday, and the first residents of the project's multifamily component will begin moving in in October. “The reason people are choosing to live in Ponce is because you can't recreate that authenticity and character,” Jim says. “You feel like you're part of something and not just looking across the street.”