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Upper Westside Gaining Tenant Momentum Thanks To Redevelopment, Potential Park

In the land of adaptive reuse, one developer is banking that tenants will still think a new office building is cool.

Rendering of The Works, an adaptive reuse project of former warehouses in Atlanta's Upper Westside community by Selig Enterprises

Selig Enterprises is designing a 140K SF office development at The Works at Chattahoochee, the firm's massive adaptive reuse project taking a collection of 20th-century warehouses and transforming them into a mix of retail and creative office. But the planned office building will be one of a handful of ground-up new developments along Chattahoochee Avenue, Selig Enterprises Senior Vice President Malloy Peterson told Bisnow.

“We have been extremely pleasantly surprised with the interest for office in that location,” said Peterson, one of Bisnow's panelists at an upcoming event focused on Atlanta's Upper Westside development boom. "We thought it would be strong, but it's been stronger than we can imagine."

The office building is part of the first phase of The Works development, which also will include 200K SF of adaptive reuse retail and another 90K SF of creative office. Selig also plans to develop an apartment complex and a 600-car parking deck to serve the entire project. Delivery is scheduled for 2020.

The Works is the latest redevelopment project underway in the Upper Westside of Midtown, an area that historically has been one of Atlanta's industrial markets through which rail lines snaked. The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Northside Drive, Collier Road, Marietta Boulevard and West Marietta Street just west of both Atlantic Station and Georgia Tech's campus, and is part of the larger Westside Atlanta community also benefiting from plans to turn a former granite quarry into a massive public park, à la Piedmont Park.

The focus of Selig — which has controlled most of the buildings of what will be The Works for as many as 70 years — has been rehabbing the defunct warehouses into the kinds of properties that attract millennials with their old bones and gritty vibe.

Numerous tenants have bloomed there in recent years, from video production company Crisp Video Group to the headquarters of global plumbing parts supplier Reliance Worldwide. Most recently, furniture retailer Stock & Trade Design Co. inked a 50K SF lease at The Hill Street Warehouse at 1357 Collier Road for a showroom, Sweetwater Holdings Managing Partner McKittrick Simmons said.

New City President Jim Irwin

While built on boutique corporate and retail interest, more mainstream office tenants are becoming more serious about office space in the Upper Westside in their bids to recruit and retain millennial talent, New City President Jim Irwin said.

“One or two generations ago, you'd be crazy to think that an institutional tenant would choose officing there,” Irwin said.

New City is in a joint venture with Atlanta-based Sweetwater Holdings to help redevelop a slew of older industrial buildings in the Upper Westside area. Sweetwater Holdings and its partners control 450K SF of former industrial warehouses that are gradually being converted into boutique shops, restaurants and office, including a former chicken processing plant that is now a film studio.

Simmons said the attitude shift for corporate America toward the Westside — especially among technology companies — really solidified with the success of Ponce City Market, ironically enough on the east side of the city. Simmons said when they first started the redevelopment five years ago, gaining serious interest from companies was sketchy at best.

“It was a lot like going to the zoo where they were going to look at the animals. But they weren't serious about moving their companies into space like that,” he said. Now, he added, the supply of redeveloped properties is just keeping up with demand.

While the Upper Westside community has been booming in recent years, thanks in large part to its proximity to Midtown and the knowledge hive of Georgia Tech, some developers there see the potential for the Bellwood Quarry park as a steroid kick for projects in that area.

“A lot of developers are hovering around the market," Urban Creek Partners principal Jimmy Barry said. Everybody believes that Bellwood Quarry park is the linchpin."

Urban Creek Partners, with former Atlanta Braves player Mark Teixeira as an equity partner, is planning a 70-acre mixed-use development right by the future park. The firm just tapped CBRE to market the first phase, which is set to include 575K SF of new office space, 75K SF of retail, 850 apartment units and a hotel.

Barry said the city's plans for Bellwood Quarry have been a shot in the arm of development on the Westside.

“The Bellwood Quarry has enormous upside for the city and certainly for the immediately surrounding area,” Simmons said. “If funded and executed correctly, the activation of the Bellwood Quarry could really serve as a bridge between the Upper Westside and West Midtown.”

Hear more about the Upper Westside from Peterson, Irwin and Simmons at Atlanta's Upper Westside Boom 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 19 at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center.