The residential real estate market is booming in metro Atlanta and downtown Atlanta continues to be one of the hottest targets.
A groundbreaking, well, more like a demolition ceremony, took place on the third floor of one the city’s oldest office buildings Thursday, July 13. The 125-year-old, 10-story Grant Building, which was purchased in a joint venture between Wolfe Investments, a Texas-based real estate investment company, and Bluelofts, a national redevelopment company, in December 2022, will become a massive residential property.
The price Wolfe Investments and BlueLofts paid for the building was undisclosed. Downtown properties have paled in comparison to the land prices in Midtown, for example. The last listed price was $7.9 million in 2019, according to Fulton County property records.
The project is expected to bring 165 multifamily units to downtown’s Fairlie Poplar Historic District, which is located less than a half-mile from the Historic Sweet Auburn District. Downtown has seen steady residential growth over the past decade, but the Grant Building project is breaking new ground in a dilapidated part of town or on a dirt lot. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
“Not much dirt to move on this project,” said Kenny Wolfe, owner of Wolfe Investments. With the building having national register status there can only be a certain amount of construction and demolition that takes place.
Ike Bams, the co-founder and partner (along with John Williams) with BlueLofts said his company realized the growth of downtown Atlanta and said of redeveloping the office building into a residential property, “this is our niche.”
“We wanted to redevelop this building into housing so we bought it,” Bams said. “We are excited about the look and the feel of this project. Instead of empty office buildings downtown we can have housing downtown.”
This project is not to be confused with an “affordable housing” project. The multifamily units will be Class A units, which mean they will be renting for market value. The average rent for an apartment in Atlanta is $1,846, according to data from RentCafe.com, an online residential search website.
Both Wolfe and Bams say they believe the residential project will work downtown partly because of the cache the building brings and its location and proximity to all that downtown Atlanta offers.
“We are firm believers in downtown Atlanta’s growth,” said Wolfe. “We are also big believers in adaptive reuse.”
BlueLofts and Wolfe Investments had previously partnered up on purchasing the nearby property at 41 Marietta Street for the same purpose.
Bush Construction, a Davenport, Iowa-based design, development and construction company will handle construction on the project. Bush Construction project superintendent Kevin Mericle was on hand for the occasion.
Helen Zaver, Colliers Atlanta Senior Vice President, was the broker that handled the sale of the building to BlueLofts. Zaver also believes The Grant Building will serve renters well as a multifamily project.
“Beautiful historic buildings such as The Grant Building are one of a kind and with a major adaptive reuse such as what Bluelofts is planning here, will bring life back to the property as well as the area,” said Zaver.
Upon completion the yet-to-be-named project will include a number of amenities, including a club house, fitness center, business center, private spa and ground level retail space, according to a press release.
Metro Atlanta’s population, which is now over 6.1 million residents, has increased by nearly 2% every year since 2019 according to data provided by Macrotrends.net. The need for more housing, whether affordable or not, will continue to drive investors to the city and downtown is no exception.
“We need more housing downtown,” reasoned Bams. “This is a good solution to bring more people downtown.”
Downtown Atlanta will play host to a number of national and international sporting events within the next couple years, including the College Football National Championship Game in 2024 and the 2026 World Cup.