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Charleston Developer Breaks Ground On Grant Park Apartments

A prolific Charleston multifamily developer is spearheading its first project in Atlanta.

Rendering for BeltLine & Boulevard, a new apartment project that broke ground in February in Grant Park.

Middle Street Partners has broken ground on BeltLine & Boulevard, a $73M, 323-unit apartment complex directly along the Southside BeltLine trail in Grant Park. Middle Street is developing the 3.5-acre project, a former cold storage facility at 1015 Boulevard SE, in partnership with Pacific Coast Capital Partners.

Middle Street is one of a handful of developers adding new units in Atlanta as the pandemic is boosting demand for apartments in Atlanta's suburbs over the city. Middle Street expects that impact to be short-lived, especially along the Atlanta BeltLine, which has become Atlanta's version of Manhattan's High Line.

“The BeltLine is an area that I've been interested in and working to find projects on,” Middle Street Senior Partner Johnson Bazzel said. “We believe the net effect of the pandemic for the city of Atlanta is going to be a winner. Net-net, we continue to think there's strong demand for in-town neighborhoods.”

More than 8,300 apartment units were under construction in Atlanta as of the third quarter of last year, according to Haddow & Co., 3,000 of which were centered in the Atlanta East submarket, where Grant Park is located.

Despite the slowdown in rent growth in the city — average monthly rents fell to $1.92 per SF from $2.02 during the third quarter, according to Haddow — the BeltLine will continue to attract renters moving from other major metropolitan markets like New York City who are used to urban living, Bazzel said.

The project will directly front the Southside BeltLine portion of the 22-mile trail. Asking rents at BeltLine & Boulevard will average $1,650 a month, or $2.26 per SF.

“I believe this is a really high-quality project along the BeltLine,” he said. “We think the location will command [the rents].”

Middle Street has been working on plans for the project since last August. It plans to set aside 48 units for renters earning 80% of the area median income, or those making about $27,300 a year, per the city's inclusionary zoning policy along the BeltLine.

Bazzel also said the firm hasn't altered its amenity plans due to the coronavirus pandemic and will include a fitness center, courtyard pool, dog park and coworking spaces for residents who are expected to be working from home more often.

“I think it was more important that we have [coworking space] post-pandemic,” he said. "Without question, we're going to see a shift. There is going to be more people who are going to work from home."

Bazzel, who lives in Atlanta, said Middle Street is looking to further expand around the Southeast and is under contract for projects in Nashville and Chattanooga, while actively looking in Charlotte, Raleigh and Orlando.

“We are absolutely looking at [more] projects in Metro Atlanta as well,” he said.