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Developers Push New Apartments As Alpharetta Pushes Back

After revising plans for a one-time office project in Alpharetta, the developer of Parkway 400 is bracing for potential pushback from the city for including apartments.

Rendering of Greenstone Properties Parkway 400 mixed-use project

Greenstone Properties partner De Little said he expects the city of Alpharetta to resist the company's plans to incorporate more than 300 apartment units at Parkway 400 — a planned, 20-acre, mixed-use project across the street from the vaunted Avalon development. Greenstone is partnering with Trammell Crow Residential for the apartment component of Parkway 400.

"We think the plan makes a lot of sense. It's the right place for this," Little said. "Our fear is yes, because of [a recent city] study, the city might react adversely to this. We're hoping the plan will be received favorably."

Alpharetta officials are striving to keep its entire for-rent stock — both apartments and single-family houses that are for rent — to around 32% of the total housing in the city. That ratio stems largely from a 2016 study the city conducted that targeted keeping new multifamily or for-rent housing units to 159 per year.

Right now, though, the city estimates that more than 35% of its housing stock is classified as rental.

Greenstone Properties partner De Little

Officials with the city of Alpharetta did not return calls seeking comment. Trammell Crow and Greenstone are first going through a development of regional impact review with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Officials said the apartment request could come before the city council as soon as April.

The city has approved five apartment projects since 2014, including Pope & Land Enterprise's Northwinds Summit mixed-use project that will include a 140-unit apartment complex, according to officials.

“There was some pushback to our requests initially, but ultimately the city understood that our end goal was an 'office-centric' development, which needed the right amount of other uses to be truly competitive in today’s market,” Pope & Land Managing Director Kerry Armstrong said in an email.

Apartments inside Alpharetta that also were recently approved are not the suburban-style, garden apartments from decades before. They are part of mixed-use projects, ones with retail and office alongside, Armstrong and Little said.

“A person [who] is going to rent this apartment ... is not the same person who is going to rent a 30-year-old garden apartment,” Little said, adding renters of the new Class-A apartment stock are choosing a lifestyle over a need to rent. And Little said there is a lack of luxury apartments in Alpharetta.

“This isn't your grandma's apartment," he said.

A 2016 list of apartments and their rents in Alpharetta from a city report

The 2016 city report bears some of those claims out. While Alpharetta apartment rents average $1,322/unit, the price points swing depending on the age of the complex, with AMLI at North Point and Haven at Avalon commanding some of the highest rents in the city. Inversely, older apartments are commanding much less, according to the report.

Armstrong said high rents for new apartments are upholding the theory that there are plenty of residents opting to rent versus owning a home, even in suburbia. And cities like Alpharetta are realizing that as well.

“To many, rental housing provides more solutions than problems. Historically, cities have focused on the problems — perceived and real — that come with apartments,” he said. “That mindset will change over time, especially as other key factors like population aging and mobility options have increasing impact on the big picture.”

Hear more from Armstrong and Greenstone Properties partner Chris Scott 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta for Bisnow's Exploring North Fulton County event.