A wooded site in Poncey-Highland that’s been targeted for redevelopment for nearly a decade has been cleared for three buildings of distinctively modern townhomes that project officials say could be the historic neighborhood’s last.
Developers have floated plans to remake two tucked-away parcels between North Avenue and John Lewis Freedom Parkway, across the street from Manuel’s Tavern, since at least 2012. The site's been rezoned for townhome use for roughly eight years.
PacificPoint Realty stepped in and acquired the site in 2016, but its complexity and other challenges—including the pandemic—have stalled development timelines for a project called Freedom Townhomes ever since, according to managing partner Karim Shariff.
Permits were issued earlier this spring and clearing began in earnest last month.
“It’s a complex site and a real challenge from a civil engineer’s standpoint,” Shariff tells Urbanize Atlanta. “It’s an interior site, and we’re working with the city and with [Georgia Department of Transportation] to try to coordinate ample utilities to the site. Water is having to be brought in with a new water main from North Highland [Avenue] that we’re paying for. So we’re glad to finally be out of that pre-construction planning phase, to execute and see this thing come together.”
GDOT’s involvement stems from the fact that a grassy buffer between the townhome site and Freedom Parkway is GDOT right-of-way. Plans called for extending a public sidewalk through the townhome community from North Avenue to connect with the PATH Foundation trail running through that area.
Shariff says the site was loaded with trees an arborist determined to be “DDH”—dead, dying, or hazardous—and about two dozen others that required a recompense fee to remove. The same number of trees will be replanted in various greenspaces around the townhomes, including a long, wide “backyard” fronting the PATH trail, he said.
Interestingly, city records indicated the site had never been developed in Atlanta’s history, but site-clearing efforts revealed another story.
“We found remnants of stone retaining walls, which is indicative that something must have been there, who know how many decades ago, that was at some point demolished,” says Shariff. “It was a surprise. They were very old.”
The development team expects the 15 units comprising the Kuo Diedrich-designed Freedom Townhomes will start to go vertical before summer’s end, in three separate buildings. Plans call for finishing the first batch by next July and opening sales within a couple of months.
Each four-bedroom unit will stand four stories, including rooftop levels, with heated interior spaces ranging from 2,225 square feet to just over 2,700. Elevators will be optional in some plans.
Poncey-Highland’s new historic district designation—adopted by the Atlanta City Council in September—means Freedom Townhomes will likely be the neighborhood’s last modern-aesthetic multifamily project, Shariff says. Projects that were in permitting phases when the Poncey-Highland Historic District was approved were allowed to move forward.
“There won’t be any multifamily,” Shariff says, “and certainly a project like ours would not get approved today.”
Allen Snow, an Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty associate broker heading sales, expects prices to start in the $800,000s and rise to over $1 million, depending on customizations.
“It’s kind of a moving target that’s changing as we speak. [The market’s] really hot, and this is a unique project,” says Snow. “It’s something you’re not going to see ever again in Poncey-Highland.”
• Recent Poncey-Highland news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)