New apartment development is revving up in downtown Atlanta, with the latest proposal bringing a one-of-a-kind design to the city.
Kaplan Residential, which has an Atlanta office, is soon to break ground on an $86 million apartment tower at 377 Centennial Olympic Park Drive.
The 336-unit project would sit near Centennial Olympic Park, where several tourist attractions are now being revamped including Philips Arena and Georgia Aquarium. The apartment tower would rise 17 stories on a 1.5-acre site that’s catty-corner to the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“We feel like the job story downtown is the most compelling in the city — 140,000 jobs and virtually no new Class-A apartments in the submarket,” said Nathan Kaplan, partner at Kaplan Residential. “We feel like downtown is a greatly under-supplied market.”
The apartment tower will be a first for Atlanta, as it’s being built with a prefab building material called Prescient. The product cuts high-rise construction costs by 20 to 25 percent, compared to using concrete.
It will help Kaplan achieve rental rates around $2.10 to $2.15 per square foot, a discount to typical high-rise apartments in Atlanta.
That’s critical for the downtown market, where average rental rates are at $1.66 per square foot, according to real estate analyst Haddow & Co. In comparison, both Midtown and Buckhead are seeing rental rates near $2 per square foot.
“We feel like we have a game-changer for downtown and also for the city,” Kaplan said.
The project will be called “Generation,” a brand Kaplan Residential hopes to further expand in Atlanta. The downtown project could begin delivering units in second-quarter 2020.
Niles Bolton Associates is the architect. CBG Building Co., which specializes in Prescient construction, is the general contractor.
Kaplan Residential had first unveiled its plans for downtown in 2016.
“We know that those involved in this project have worked very hard to advance it to this important beginning,” said A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress. “It’s a significant addition to the Centennial Park District and will fit in nicely there. We are always excited about new housing options coming to downtown.”
For the past several years, developers have concentrated most new Atlanta apartment projects in dense urban areas such as Midtown or Buckhead or neighborhoods including the Old Fourth Ward where people can live and work next to the Beltline. The areas are typically in walking distance of transit and near amenities such as shops or restaurants.
Now, new apartment development is ramping up downtown.
In the last 12 months, 238 units have delivered, according to Haddow & Co. Currently, 833 units are under construction in downtown, with another 1,325 units in the pipeline.
Recent projects downtown include the $96 million Post Centennial Park, a project that was the first significant delivery of new apartments in the city’s central business district in at least 10 years.
Developers are buying into downtown’s potential to generate apartment demand, as Georgia State University enrollment grows and more students want to live in the city after graduation. Land in other parts of intown Atlanta is also becoming more expensive, potentially making downtown a more affordable option for apartment developers in dense urban settings.
Plus, tons of new investment has come downtown, from the major renovation of Philips Arena to a $100 million expansion at the Georgia Aquarium. A massive entertainment district is planned for “The Gulch,” and German real estate company Newport US RE has acquired dozens of historic buildings in south downtown for a sweeping redevelopment.
“Downtown continues to become a more appealing market,” Kaplan said. “We are excited. When you are heading south on the highway toward the airport, you will see the Generation building. I think it will change the downtown skyline.”