Ever since the Great Recession ebbed, Atlanta development patterns have been at the forefront of America’s zeitgeist to prioritize walkability over car-dependency, and a new analysis comparing apartment construction in downtown cores of U.S. cities specifically over the past decade bears that out.

Of 100 U.S. cities studied, Atlanta’s downtown area ranked first for the sheer number of new apartments constructed in the 10 years since 2013, according to Yardi Matrix data compiled by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings nationally.

Analysts broke down the amount of apartment construction in each downtown area based on corresponding zip codes that constitute the urban core. (We’ve asked StorageCafe reps exactly which areas that covers for Atlanta but haven’t heard back as of press time.) [UPDATE: September 14, 12:54 p.m. According to a StorageCafe representative, the following zip codes were considered the "Downtown Atlanta region" in Yardi Matrix data: 30303, 30308, 30309, 30313, and 30318.]

In any case, Atlanta’s “downtown” has packed on no less than 21,500 new apartment units since 2013. The only other downtown area to rival that was in second-place Los Angeles, which added 19,342 rental units in the same time period, per the study. (New York City was divided into boroughs, it’s worth noting, with Brooklyn landing at ninth place.)

StorageCafe/Yardi Matrix data

That tracks with an earlier study by RentCafe, published in November, showing that downtown Los Angeles led the nation in apartment construction since 2017—followed by Midtown Atlanta.

Even more mind-boggling, StorageCafe determined that apartments built in Atlanta’s downtown area the past decade represent more than half of the city’s total existing inventory now, which speaks to Atlanta's physical transformation in recent years. Another 7,000 apartments are currently under construction around Atlanta’s core, the analysis found.

A graphic compiled by Midtown Alliance in December 2021 showing buildings delivered since roughly 2010 (blue), with others under construction (green) at the time, or in the development review process (orange) in Midtown alone. Midtown Alliance

Atlanta hit a peak for apartment construction in 2017 with more than 3,700 units delivered. A dip in output came in pandemic-addled 2020, when a relatively slim 1,300 units came to market; but that was short-lived, as more than 2,700 new apartments delivered last year as construction rebounded.

The study points to Atlanta’s relatively strong economy and jobs market as the impetus for the apartment surge.

“Many of the jobs created in Atlanta are in well-paying sectors such as life sciences, engineering, and corporate management,” noted StorageCafe, “attracting a population of young professionals that naturally favor downtown living in order to be close to jobs and entertainment amenities.”

StorageCafe/Yardi Matrix data

On a more dour note for vibrancy-obsessed urbanists, the ATL also dominated in the realm of new self-storage space created around downtown.

Atlanta’s core packed on more than 670,000 square feet of self-storage space over the past decade, besting (?) Houston and Raleigh, respectively.

The self-storage sector “can help renters comfortably make up for [lack of space],” as StorageCafe puts it, and with its almost 1.6 million square feet of self-storage space in the downtown area now, Atlanta must be the king of Southern comfort.  


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