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Gilbane Development Looking To Debut In Atlanta With United Way Office-To-Residential Conversion

A Rhode Island developer is eyeing United Way's downtown office building as a potential apartment project.

100 Edgewood Ave., which is owned by United Way of Atlanta

Gilbane Development Co., a division of Gilbane, has applied for a permit with Atlanta to convert the 18-story office building at 100 Edgewood Ave. into a multifamily property. The building lies close to Georgia State University's campus.

Vice President John Keegan said the proposed project is in the early stages of planning, and there were no details on the scope of the project as of press time.

“We haven't grounded our final unit mix right now,” Keegan said. “Right now, at a high level, we're looking at it as a conversion from office to multifamily residential. I imagine it will have a student focus, but it wouldn't be student exclusive.”

Officials with the United Way did not return calls as of press time.

But the special administrative permit, filed on July 24, comes weeks after United Way of Atlanta announced plans to sell its four-acre downtown campus.

While Gilbane's construction arm has acted as a general contractor on many projects in Atlanta in the past, Keegan said this is Gilbane's first project as a developer in the region.

It echoes a conversion the developer did in Rhode Island, when it purchased the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust Building, a 12-story office tower in Providence, and converted it into a 500-student housing project for the Rhode Island School of Design.

Average submarket rents, occupancy and number of units under construction as of Q1 2017, according to Haddow & Co.

Gilbane's proposal is the latest evidence that the apartment development trend is finally hitting Downtown, a place where average rents are generally cheaper than Midtown and Buckhead. According to Haddow & Co., average apartment rents in Downtown are little more than $1.50/SF, compared to Midtown at nearly $2/SF and Buckhead at $1.87/SF.

Another Downtown office-to-apartment conversion has served as the litmus test for demand in the submarket. Paces Properties' The Office apartments, a $55M conversion of a 20-story office tower off Piedmont Avenue, recently stabilized to more than 90% occupancy and garnered $2/SF rents. That has prompted Paces to move to put the tower up for sale.

MAA is underway with Post Centennial, a 407-unit $84.5M apartment project off Centennial Olympic Park Drive, and Kaplan Residential is working on plans to develop Generation Atlanta, a 336-unit apartment community at 377 Centennial Olympic Park Drive, next door to the new Downtown W and EY's regional headquarters at 55 Allen Plaza.

Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson

100 Edgewood would be along the new Atlanta Streetcar line, next to GSU's campus, so Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson said plans to convert the building are not surprising.

“Housing makes a lot of sense,” Robinson said. “Everyone who looked at the building talked about some kind of conversion to housing.”