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                                                                                                                                            August 25, 2009

News and Notes on Atlanta Commercial Real Estate
By: Tony Wilbert
Pope & Land Bets on BeltLine

Pope & Land, one of Atlanta's top commercial real development firms, is poised to be one of the first to build on or near the proposed Atlanta BeltLine.

The Cobb County-based firm has filed plans to redevelop the Colonial Homes apartment community next to Bobby Jones Memorial Golf Course and Memorial Park in Buckhead. Pope & Land's plans call for razing part of the 1950's complex to make room for one five-story with two parking levels and one four-story building over one level of parking. The new buildings would be 75 feet high, or 40 feet taller than the existing buildings at Colonial Homes, according to plans filed with the city of Atlanta's Bureau of Planning.

Rents at Colonial Homes are about 30 percent below market. This represents good upside for Pope & Land, which plans to develop the buildings as apartments. "Detailed plans for the development have not been worked out at this time, but the assumption is certainly that all the units will be rental, given the foreseeable market," Seyfarth Shaw partner Carl Westmoreland said via e-mail. He and Seyfarth associate Jessica Hill are representing Pope & Land in the rezoning.

Earlier this month, Atlanta's Zoning Review Board deferred a hearing on Pope & Land's rezoning request for 90 days. It will be interesting to see whether this portends a drawn-out zoning process. Larry Kelly, president of Pope & Land, doesn't shy away from challenging zoning cases. His attempt to rezone a 9-acre tract at Phipps Boulevard and Lenox Road, landed in the Georgia Supreme Court.

Pope & Land purchased the 20-acre site in 2005 and filed plans to rezone two of its five tracts earlier this summer. The property is about one block west of the Houston's restaurant on Peachtree Road. The redevelopment would be part of the BeltLine Corridor System, according to Pope & Land.

With 580 residential units, Pope & Land's redeveloped Colonial Homes project would be one of the largest so far to be tied to the BeltLine. The redevelopment project would have a five- to seven-year construction cycle and be started after the requests to rezone the property and change the Comprehensive Development Plan are approved, according to the rezoning application.

 Although the BeltLine and its plans for a 22-mile "necklace" of parkland, light rail and new development has received a lot of attention, concrete examples of its progress are hard to find outside of the addition of parkland. The highest-profile real estate project planned for the BeltLine dissolved late last year when Atlanta BeltLine Inc. ended its partnership with Barry Real Estate Cos.

Barry and Atlanta BeltLine had planned to develop more than 4 miles of the northeast portion of the BeltLine.

Since then a debate has emerged about whether the BeltLine is a project that will take 25 years to build out. Kasim Reed, a Georgia state senator running for mayor of Atlanta, has been telling people on the campaign that that is too long. He supports public-private partnerships that can make the BeltLine a reality in about a dozen years.

Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, also a mayoral candidate, favors taking the time to do the BeltLine right. She wants to be a champion of the BeltLine because of the jobs and new transit options it would create.

As for Atlanta BeltLine, it has appeared somewhat concerned about the possible perception that the project is a pipedream. It erected a billboard in downtown Atlanta that reads, "Yes, the BeltLine is Happening!"

Pope & Land's master plan for the site, created by Rule Joy Trammell Rubio, shows new roads that would connect the Colonial Homes redevelopment to Atlanta's hip Bennett Street. Bennett Street is proximate to the site of a proposed modal for the BeltLine.

Gray Line

Sanctuary Park Towers deemed to have Regional Impact Sanctuary Park Falls

Water feature at The Falls (1125 Sanctuary Parkway)

The Atlanta Regional Commission has determined the two office towers proposed at Sanctuary Park in Alpharetta constitute a development of regional impact, or DRI. Sanctuary Park Realty Holding Co., a JP Morgan affiliate, surprised Atlanta's commercial real estate industry earlier this month when it filed plans for two 12-story office buildings at the office park. They would be the first office towers in the North Fulton submarket. Jones Lang LaSalle, which leases, manages and develops office buildings at Sanctuary Park, also was involved in the filing.

Don't look for JLL to start a tower at Sanctuary Park any time soon. The company merely is making sure it is well positioned to start quickly when demand returns and calls for office high-rises in North Fulton.

The ARC determined Sanctuary Park's plans qualified for DRI status late last week because the towers would have 620,000 square feet of office, well above the 400,000-square-foot threshold for office developments in metro Atlanta.

Gray Line
CBRE Dream Team Rolls On

John Sam John Anne

Atlanta's Tenant Rep Dream Team: Left to right, John Ferguson, Sam Holmes, John Shlesinger and Anne Lofye

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's planned move to the Central Perimeter submarket grabbed a lot of media attention last week because of its psychological impact on downtown. (It won't affect the spec market for a while, though, because the building has been occupied by its own since it opened.) Lost in most accounts is that CB Richard Ellis' star team of John Shlesinger, Sam Holmes, John Ferguson and Anne Lofye represented AJC-owner Cox Enterprises in the transaction at 223 Perimeter Center Parkway.

Look for the team to make a splash again when it completes NCR's headquarters lease in Duluth. NCR selected CBRE to handle its real estate needs across its 5.5 million-square-foot portfolio earlier this year.

Gray Line

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