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Four Trends Happening On Atlanta's Southside

From trying to lure a Ponce City Market south of the city, to who is renting apartments in the southside's first new apartment project in 40 years, here are four trends that emerged at Bisnow's Atlanta's Southside Rising event this week.

1. Southside Needs A Ponce City Market-like Catalyst

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Brian Hooker, executive director of the Fort McPherson LRA

Just as Ponce City Market sparked the gentrification of an entire section of Atlanta, areas south of the city need a similar project to catalyze their transformations. Brian Hooker, the executive director of the Fort McPherson LRA, the local redevelopment authority for the former U.S. Army base, cited how Jamestown's redevelopment of the former City Hall East along Ponce de Leon transformed Old Fourth Ward into one of Atlanta's most desirable neighborhoods.

“That's the opportunity we have here on the southside,” Hooker said at the Thursday event held at Fort McPherson.

And since PCM, the city is creating the Beltine and the former “Murder Kroger” is being redeveloped into a Kroger-anchored mixed-use project, OA Development founder Steve Berman said. And today, Ponce City Market is achieving office rents topping $50/SF, he said, the highest in the city.

“I don't know what it's going to look like on the southside, but I do know there's a Ponce City Market in the future,” Berman said. “We're going to have something special coming to the southside.”

2. More Opportunity For Affordable Housing

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Chris Carter, partner with Vantage Real Estate Partners

Already-low land prices mean developers can push out more affordable housing options in areas south of the city, some panelists said. But Hooker said there needs to be a groundswell of activity that creates more “market-driven affordability” with new developments without the need for much public incentives.

“And that requires scale,” he added.

Chris Carter, a partner with Vantage Realty Partners, said a big problem with housing in all of Atlanta is that there are limited options: You either have single-family homes or you have vertical apartment towers. What you do not have much of are duplexes above retail centers or townhouses at different price points, Carter said.

“There's a missing middle in there,” he said, adding that developers struggle to pencil a new development when they have to make 20% of the units affordable.

3. The Pad On Harvard Already Looking To Expand

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Windsor Stevens partner Rod Mullice.

Air Realty, the developers of The Pad on Harvard in College Park, the first new multifamily development in the southside in four decades, could already grow by more than another 100 units, said the firm's managing partner, Rod Mullice.

“We think that there's opportunity for more supply in the market because demand is there,” Mullice said.

He said due to a generational shift in the workforce, younger people are wanting to live closer to employment centers. The Pad is seeing Delta Air Lines employees, he said, and building housing for Delta mechanics and flight attendants is practical.

“If they're late for their jobs, a plane doesn't take off,” Mullice said. "So we think there's an upside on supply."

4. More Industrial Spec Headed To Fort Gillem

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David Welch, partner with Robinson Weeks, master developers of the Fort Gillem redevelopment

The master developers for the other big former military base redo are already planning another mega-warehouse.

David Welch, a partner with Robinson Weeks, said the firm has kicked off a 1M SF spec, e-commerce-focused warehouse at the Fort Gillem redevelopment that will have 40-foot-high ceilings. Already, Robinson Weeks started the project with a more than 1M SF refrigerated warehouse for Kroger, and most recently Kuehne + Nagel leased more than 400K SF at the firm's Gillem Logistics Center. The new warehouse will be behind the Kuehne + Nagel facility, Welch said.