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Suburban Firm, Urban Aspirations: Dezhu U.S. Targets Boulevard With Four Multifamily Projects

Can one build apartments in the hot Old Fourth Ward market that could be affordable to young professionals? One Duluth-based developer is aiming to find out along Boulevard.

Rendering for Dezhu U.S.' 525 Parkway apartment project in the Old Fourth Ward

Dezhu U.S. Investment Inc. is pursuing four projects all within less than a mile of one another along Boulevard in Midtown Atlanta, including two apartments that will seek to counter some of the market's high-end rents, Dezhu CEO Eric Xue said.

“We want these to bring some change to the area,” Xue said.

The firm's pipeline is all west of Ponce City Market, the mixed-use development that has become a beacon of urban renewal in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. The projects include:

  • 555 Boulevard, a 144-unit apartment building with street-level retail on an undeveloped parcel at the corner of Boulevard and Boulevard Place.
  • 542 Boulevard, a 30-unit Class-A apartment project across the street from the planned 555 Boulevard, which will include roof gardens and underground parking.
  • 525 Parkway, a 100-unit Class-A apartment project near the intersection of Morgan Street.
  • 456 Parkway, a high-end townhouse project with 14 units off Parkway Drive near Angier Avenue.
Rendering for Dezhu U.S.' planned 555 Boulevard apartment mixed-use project in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Xue said rents in the apartments are targeted to be about $2/SF, with unit sizes averaging around 700 SF for one-bedrooms (roughly $1,400 per month) and 1,200 SF for two-bedroom units. The price point, while about average for Midtown rents overall, is on the lower side of newly delivered Class-A apartments in the area, which can reach around $2.30/SF or more.

Dezhu is focusing on the area as a spillover from the demand seen clustered around Ponce City Market's immediate area. Xue said the firm is targeting more young professionals who may be priced out by some of Midtown's newer, more expensive apartment towers.

It is a strategy with some merit, Haddow & Co. Vice President Ladson Haddow said.

“I think it's an area where you want to be the affordable alternative,” Haddow said. “It's not like it's going to be affordable housing. It's just going to be cheaper absolute rent.”

For Dezhu, the quartet of Midtown projects is part of an overall pipeline in Atlanta that is estimated to top $250M, including Castleberry Park, a mixed-use project in the Castleberry Hill community in Downtown Atlanta that will be capped by a nearly 200-room Hard Rock Hotel, Xue said.

That project, which broke ground earlier this year, also is slated to include 130 apartment units — 20% of which will be held aside as affordable — and 20K SF of retail. Xue said the project is shooting for completion in time for Super Bowl LIII in 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.