Georgia State University Spurs Downtown Atlanta Development

StanSonenshine.HeadshotBy: Stan Sonenshine, President of PREF LLC

This originally appeared on Stan Sonenshine’s blog on the PREF website.

Georgia State University (GSU) has been experiencing unprecedented growth. It’s recent acquisition of Georgia Piedmont College has boosted the student population from 36,000 to 50,000. And as we know, with any population growth comes development.

A recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article states, “And during the past two decades, roughly since Atlanta’s 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, the school’s evolution has been accompanied and exemplified by sustained growth of GSU facilities in Atlanta’s core.”

Let’s take a look at the impact GSU’s population and development growth has had in downtown Atlanta. The growth impacts many different real estate types, including:

Student Housing

Student housing is a major component of GSU’s facilities growth. The same Atlanta Business Chronicle article notes that GSU recently added 1,152 with the opening of Piedmont Central in August 2016, located on the corner of Piedmont and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue.

Private developers are active in GSU student housing projects as well. Atlanta-based South City Partners plans for 120 Piedmont, a $80 million off-campus, student housing tower, offering 650 beds arranged in 228 units of 1 – 4 bedrooms. The building will include 6,400 square feet of retail and an existing, renovated gas station. Developers hope to deliver this high-end project, complete with 7th floor amenity deck plus pool overlooking GSU and 26th floor rooftop terrace, for the 2018 school year.

According to the August 2016 article referenced above, 2,100+ beds have been added to GSU’s student housing roster since 2014, 256 are under construction and 1650 are planned. In fact, GSU opened its first dorm in 2002 and as of August 2016, offered 4,750 beds to students, calling Piedmont Ave the school’s residential corridor.

It’s pretty clear GSU is a commuter school no more.

Office Buildings + New Buildings

GSU is building new buildings as well as transforming old office buildings. Repurposing old office buildings accomplishes two goals: it expands GSU’s campus while repurposing already-existing Atlanta real estate. It’s a win-win situation for both university and city.

Here are some examples:

Obviously, GSU’s development footprint continues to grow in downtown Atlanta.

Turner Field

It is no secret that GSU teamed with a private developer purchased Turner Field for $30,000,000. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, current plans show Turner Field will be converted into GSU’s first football stadium and the footprint where Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium once stood will eventually serve as GSU’s baseball stadium. But the development does not end there. Plans also include classroom space, student housing, apartments and retail.

Construction of Turner Stadium began in February, reports Alex McQuade on 11-Alive. The plan is to have renovations completed by the GSU Panthers Football team’s opening game on August 31 against Tennessee State University. GSU hopes to be in the new baseball stadium by the 2019 season opener. McQuade also reports that GSU may develop the remaining property, which could include:

  • 1,500,000 square feet of office space
  • 700,000 square feet of commercial and retail space
  • 625 hotel rooms
  • 2750 apartment units
  • 50 single-family residences

If developed, the completion date would be 2031. Developers have worked closely with community leaders in Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Peoplestown to create a unified vision for the area.

Growth + Development > Investment

It’s apparent GSU’s growth and development have favorably impacted downtown Atlanta’s growth and development. But what does this have to do with investment?

GSU’s takeover of downtown Atlanta coupled with the Mercedes Benz Stadium, the potential Underground Atlanta redevelopment and Centennial Olympic Park improvements all bode well for the future of Downtown Atlanta.

Obviously, investing near universities and large developments creates opportunities and drives up values. If you already own property near GSU’s new or repurposed developments, then you’re in luck—your investments are probably looking good. Honestly, you might even do well if you buy now.

One thing is certain: GSU and Downtown Atlanta’s symbiotic relationship is a prosperous one, and it is here to stay.

What other GSU projects impact Atlanta? How do you expect future projects to spur Atlanta’s growth?

Stan Sonenshine serves as president of PREF, LLC and is responsible for strategic planning, asset advisory, acquisitions and asset management. With more than 40 years of commercial real estate experience, Stan has been involved in several aspects of the industry. His vast knowledge brings a practical approach to property evaluation and ownership, ensuring optimum portfolio performance. He has held executive positions with some of the most recognized firms in Atlanta real estate such as The Simpson Organization, Peterson Properties and Hooker Barnes. Stan’s select accomplishments include the acquisition of 14 properties totaling 1.2 million square feet and valued at $100 million; raising $10 million in investment capital; and the development of over 2.5 million square feet of office and warehouse properties.

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Author: CREWATLANTA

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1 Comment

  1. An interesting perspective regarding the continued and sustained growth of a respectable learning establishment within a key node in the State of Georgia. Even from afar, [here in the UK] a similar trend has emerged over time and it is in keeping with such favourable ‘trend-analysis’ it is likely that more informed ‘Clients’ [real estate asset holders] will adopt such foresight and visionary thinking which, at all times, should encapsulate and enhance the ‘experience’ of their core component – i.e. students / student life.

    These are exciting times for the City of Atlanta………..and the learning establishments strategically located within it!!

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