TSW Heads Design of Westown, Atlanta’s Largest Residential Development in 10 Years

TSW is a major player in the development of Atlanta’s largest residential development in ten years. Westown will include hundreds of mid-rise condos, townhouses, single-family homes, as well as 150,00 sq. ft. of retail. TSW was in charge of the site’s master plan and is currently working on a public space and streetscape plan for the site, as well as a pattern book designed to guide future development.

Westown a west side whopper
Atlanta Business Chronicle
April 6, 2007
by Lisa R. Schoolcraft, Staff Writer

The largest residential community to be built in the heart of Atlanta in the past 10 years is planned not far from Atlantic Station in Midtown.

To be known as Westown, it would have 1,450 homes, the majority mid-rise condominiums, but also 42 single-family homes and hundreds of townhouses.

The community will be developed by Brock Built City Neighborhoods LLC in the 43-acre area roughly bounded by Fairmont Avenue, Booth Avenue, English Street, Boyd Avenue, Culpepper Street, Huff Road and Ellsworth Drive, about a mile west of Atlantic Station.

It will also include 150,000 square feet of retail/commercial space along Huff Road’s intersections with English Street, Boyd Avenue and Booth Avenue. The project’s total price tag is about $400 million.

Westown is along the proposed Beltline, near the proposed Culpepper transit line. The Beltline is a 22-mile loop of former rail line that encircles downtown.

Westown would be the largest residential development in the city of Atlanta within the past 10 years, said Eugene James, director of Metrostudy Inc.’s Atlanta division, which tracks residential subdivisions. The next largest development ongoing is Princeton Lakes, a 785-home project being built by Pulte Homes Inc. in the Camp Creek area, he said.

Westown may be eclipsed in size inside the city limits by Miami-based The Related Group’s proposed CityPlace at Buckhead, which calls for nearly 3,900 condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes, James said.

But Westown shows residential developers believe growing numbers of Atlanta home buyers are interested in close-in living.

Prices in Westown will start around $195,000 for the condos, with townhouses in the high $300,000s and single-family homes in the mid-$600,000s, said CEO Steve Brock.

Brock has built in Atlanta for 22 years and moved into the area west of Midtown, which has been called Westside, Midtown West and Northwest Atlanta, 10 years ago with a project called Adams Crossing.

Brock began assembling property for Westown in 1998 and says it will take seven years to build out.

Targeted buyers are singles or couples just starting families.

“We expect families, but it’s not the suburbs where families move for the schools,” Brock said.

Westown’s nearby elementary schools include Bolton Academy, Boyd Elementary, Towns Elementary and William J. Scott Elementary.

And although it may be more expensive to pay city of Atlanta taxes, a home buyer in Westown is just two miles from Midtown and about 3.5 miles from either Buckhead or downtown, he said, without ever having to get on the highway.

“If you live in the suburbs, you are probably commuting an hour each way,” Brock said, which can easily exceed 500 hours a year. “What’s 500 hours a year worth to you?”

The logic hasn’t been lost on other residential developers. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) reviewed development plans in 2005 that called for 6,556 more residential units in the city of Atlanta, according to Matt Hennie, the ARC’s communications coordinator.

That number jumped to 15,150 in 2006.

At the end of the first quarter, the ARC has already reviewed, or is reviewing, development plans that would add 7,517 residential units.

Developer Marc Pollack, who has his own project in the same area as Westown, says he is amazed at all of the activity going on. “I drive around over there and I shake my head.”

Pollack, chairman and CEO of Pollack Partners LLC, is in a $120 million joint venture mixed-use development called 1011 Collier Road, which includes 643 apartment and condo units and 55,050 square feet of commercial/retail at Collier Road and Seaboard Place.

What Pollack likes about the Westside area is “it is close in,” he said. “Almost as close to Midtown as you can get with affordable housing or rentals that are made out of wood and are not high-rise concrete.”

The west side area is much more affordable than downtown, Midtown or Buckhead, said Gail Raper, CEO of Morris & Raper Realtors.

A high-rise condo downtown will cost $400 per square foot, but on the west side where Brock and Pollack and others are building, a home buyer can pay $200 per square foot for a townhouse or stacked-flat condo “and some of them have views,” Raper said. “I think over the next 10 years that will be a hotbed for development. You’ve got all that industrial space with big parking lots.”

Development on Westown is expected to start in two weeks, Brock said, with 34 townhouses on a 2-acre site on Division Street. It will also have 10 acres of green space, trails, a clubhouse and a pool.

In about six weeks, Brock will begin Huff Heights at Westown at Huff and Ellsworth that will have 28 townhouses, with an average price of $450,000, he said. The $13 million Huff Heights at Westown should be complete by the end of 2008.

Developers are “all pretty bullish about that area,” Pollack said.

Brock and others are adding to the area, with projects that include:

  • Ten Side: A $67 million mixed-use project that proposes 291 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space at Tenth Street and Northside Drive, being developed by Tivoli Properties Inc.
  • Alexan Cityscapes, A $100 million project that proposes 600 apartments at Jackson and Irwin streets, being developed by Trammell Crow Residential.
  • Ellsworth Perennial: A $39.8 million mixed-use project that includes 340 residential units and 14,000 square feet of commercial space at Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard and Huff Road, being developed by Perennial Properties Inc.
  • Gables Huff Road: A project being proposed by Gables Residential Trust to build 300 apartment units and 30,000 square feet of retail space at Foster Street and Huff Road.
  • West Highlands, 700 apartments and 177 condos/townhouses being developed by Brock Built City Neighborhoods.
  • Hollywood Road, 72 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space being developed by Alliance Real Estate Ventures LLC.
  • Bolton Village, 29,000 square feet of retail and office space being developed by Orinda Corp.
  • Moores Mill Crossing, the proposed redevelopment of a shopping center into 345 condos and 110,000 square feet of retail space at Moores Mill and Bolton roads by Edens & Avant of Columbia, S.C.
  • Bolton Crossing, 30,000 square feet of retail and office space being developed by Brock Built City Neighborhoods.
  • Perry Village, 367 apartments and 38,500 square feet of retail space proposed by Wood Partners LLC at Hollywood Road and Perry Boulevard.

“The next thing that will be fun to watch,” Pollack said, “is who can assemble enough land to build a grocery store.”