More than five years after a gritty, expansive southside property was initially floated for redevelopment, plans for injecting it with hundreds of housing units and more are starting to move forward.
Filings submitted last month to Atlanta’s Department of City Planning indicate veteran developer Kaplan Residential is gearing up to develop a section of its industrial site in Chosewood Park for a project called Sawtell, named for its 500 Sawtell Avenue address.
Kaplan’s vision calls for an infill project with more than 2,000 multifamily residences, up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space described as “diversified,” and a range of greenspaces such as pocket parks—eventually.
Kaplan officials have predicted Sawtell will grow to become the largest mixed-use destination around the BeltLine’s expanding Southside Trail corridor, in the vein of a southside version of Atlanta Dairies, Echo Street West in English Avenue, or Inman Park’s commercial core, only larger.
Spanning nearly 40 acres, the property is just 10 acres smaller than downtown’s Gulch, where Centennial Yards is underway.
The site is located about a half-mile south of the BeltLine corridor, across the street from Atlanta’s U.S. Penitentiary and just east of the downtown Connector. The property first came to market under the name “The Sawtell” in early 2019, when marketers issued a call for bids from developers.
For starters, Kaplan’s plans call for developing 14 acres of the 39.7-acre industrial site. That will see buildings one to five stories tall, housing 734 apartments and nearly 48,000 square feet of restaurant, retail, and amenity space. Parking in decks and elsewhere around the property will be able to accommodate 1,238 vehicles, per recent paperwork filed with the city.
Kaplan plans to demolish at least some existing buildings on site before beginning infrastructure work that will include private roads and street lighting, according to permit applications.
Kaplan officials partnered with private real estate fund manager Origin Investments to buy the Sawtell parcel for $31.5 million in early 2022, forecasting a master-planned “village” would take shape across multiple phases. Project officials predicted at the time a groundbreaking would happen before the end of last year.
We’ve reached out this week for more information on a Sawtell construction timeline and other details, and we’ll post any additional intel that comes. When we last checked with project reps in May, we were told Sawtell was still in design phases and that materials weren’t ready to be released.
Kaplan officials have predicted the Sawtell infill venture “will create a vibrant neighborhood weaving in adaptive-reuse components to provide charm, preservation, and originality on the site.” The goal is to “provide a catalytic destination a half-mile from the BeltLine, supporting continued growth along the corridor and unparalleled connectivity,” according to an update on Kaplan's projects around the Southeast from earlier this year.
In blocks south of the BeltLine corridor, the only project to rival Sawtell in terms of scope is Empire Communities’ under-construction Zephyr project, also in Chosewood Park. That calls for a mix of 359 townhomes and condos to eventually rise across 34 acres along Boulevard.
Elsewhere in the metro, Kaplan is partnering with Brock Built Homes to build more than 230 rental townhomes across 20 acres next to MARTA’s last stop on the Blue Line. The developer also set a record for downtown multifamily building sales by offloading its 17-story Generation Atlanta complex for $126.9 million in 2021.
Origin has been involved with five multifamily projects around Atlanta over the past decade totaling more than 1,500 units, including the development of Olmsted Chamblee on the flipside of Atlanta.
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