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For Brand Properties, Gwinnett Is Great — For New Garden-Style Apartments

Brand Properties CEO Brand Morgan (left) at a Gwinnett Braves game

One developer who has helped shape modern Gwinnett County has two new garden-style apartment projects in the pipeline.

Brand Properties is underway with a total of nearly 600 apartment units in two projects, including Sugarloaf Walk off Duluth Highway near the Gwinnett Arena. The 302-unit project will include 22K SF of commercial space as well, Brand Properties CEO Brand Morgan said.

“We're out in the market for debt right now,” Morgan said, adding that the project should break ground by the third quarter. Morgan is on tap as one of Bisnow's panelists for the Gwinnett Development Boom! event at 7:30 a.m., June 15 at Satellite Place in Duluth.

Brand Properties also is in the works for a nearly 300-unit garden-style apartment at the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Reps Miller Road in Peachtree Corners.

Both cases are unusual in Metro Atlanta, where the focus in the past few years has been urban mid- and high-rise multifamily. And there is reason for that, Morgan said. Suburban communities tend to be much tougher in approving new apartment projects. And with construction costs still at a high, they only make sense if you can avoid having to develop a parking deck.

“The play for us has been surface-parked suburban multifamily this cycle,” Morgan said.

New supply has been elevated in Atlanta, with an expected 15,300 new apartment units delivering this year, “mostly in the Midtown and Buckhead submarkets,” Colliers International officials stated in a recent report. Of the more than 60 apartment projects under construction being tracked by Colliers, only a smattering are being developed outside of the Interstate 285 ring.

But there is no lack of demand for apartments in the suburbs, even from millennials, who are being heavily courted by urban apartment owners. For one, apartments in Gwinnett tend to be more affordable than those rising in the city.

“Even if they're making $60K a year, they can't be paying $2,000 a month or $24K a year in rent, which is what they're going to be paying in Atlanta,” Morgan said.