Developer Plans Large-Scale Condo Project in Atlanta

Mar. 10--Miami's premier condo developer is diving into the Atlanta market with a very big splash.

Related Group, owned by Jorge M. Perez, is planning a mammoth development near Lenox Square mall in Buckhead. The 19.5-acre project, called Cityplace at Buckhead, will include almost 5 million square feet of residential space and 95,000 square feet of retail between East Paces Ferry and Roxboro roads.

The development is expected to include eight to nine 40-story towers and at least one 20-story tower, a large fitness club and spa, and a series of pocket parks, according to the site plan presented to neighborhood leaders.

Related Senior Vice President Bob Dorfman said costs and prices for the project have not yet been established, but Related projects are known for their luxury-class characteristics. Dorfman hinted that Cityplace will expand Atlanta's emerging market for elite high-rise living.

"We've been looking at the Atlanta market for quite some time," Dorfman said. "And the location lends itself to creating a new urban center with great architecture, with great interior design and art. ... We just think Atlanta is ready for our style of building."

Cityplace will join other new developments such as the St. Regis and the Mansion to compete for affluent Buckhead buyers looking for urban convenience and chic amenities.

Related, which Perez founded in 1979, is one of the nation's top multi-family developers. The company reported sales of more than $2.1 billion in 2004.

Buckhead neighborhood leaders have met with Related officials for preliminary talks about Cityplace. Although they still harbor some concerns, they have warmed to the mostly residential character of the project and designs that will obscure parking decks with landscaping and amenities on top.

"What we are about now is sitting down at the table and working out the best development possible," said Sally Silver, chairwoman of the development and transportation committee for Neighborhood Planning Unit B, the city's grass-roots advisory panel for local land use decisions.

Related has an option to buy the land from Noble Properties for an undisclosed sum.

Dorfman said Related will wait until the required regulatory decisions are made to set a timetable for Cityplace but added that the company is eager to begin. "Once we get through the process, we would expect to start on a phase of development as soon as possible," Dorfman said. "We're very excited about this project. We'd like to get started tomorrow if we could."

Though Cityplace would be Related's first Atlanta project, the company partnered with Cobb County-based Cousins Properties in 2004 to develop 50 Biscayne, a luxury high-rise in downtown Miami that will open late this year.

One of Cityplace's future competitors said Related's arrival in the Atlanta market signals a new level of sophistication among metro home buyers. Scott Leventhal, president of Tivoli Properties and developer of Aqua in Midtown, said he has studied Related projects' design in South Florida for ideas and inspiration, which he has incorporated into Aqua.

"This is really the future for Atlanta. It will be luxury," Leventhal said.

Jim Borders, president of Novare Group, developer of Metropolis, Spire, Realm, Gallery and Twelve, declined to comment on Related's entry into the market.

<<Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (KRT) -- 03/13/06>>