Westside Story: Atlanta’s Westside and West Midtown boom is going strong

A rendering of Atlantic Yards at Atlantic Station.

As Atlanta continues to grow, developers and homebuyers are heeding the advice to “Go West.” The city’s Westside has always offered a prime location, convenient to top city venues with easy access to transportation. For many decades, however, the once-industrial area was overlooked.

“Initially the area started to grow as vacant land, warehouses and factories were selling at incredible values allowing developers to convert or remove rundown structures to start developing the area,” said Travis Reed, Realtor with Harry Norman, Buckhead Office. He pointed to White Provision as a prime example. The upscale 98-unit condominium development is a rebuilt 1910 meat-packing plant once owned by Swift & Company.

A rendering of the future Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry.

Last September, the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail was opened, and more good things are coming with plans for the 280-acre Westside Park and 2 billion-gallon Bellwood Reservoir on the site of Bellwood Quarry. Once finished, Westside Park will be larger than Piedmont Park by nearly 100 acres.

According to Rodney Hinote, Associate Broker with Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, this is good news for residents and the local real estate market.

“West Midtown is one of the hottest markets in Atlanta right now,” Hinote said. “The Westside Park project is going to create an area that will rival Piedmont Park. We’re seeing homes in West Midtown coming on the market and we have multiple offers within hours because everyone wants to get a jump on an area that’s prime for growth.”

He stated that the BeltLine is the largest contribution and driving factor that Atlanta has seen in a great while. “It’s bringing Intown neighborhoods together and has become what we call ‘Atlanta’s waterfront’,” Hinote said. “The closer to the BeltLine you are, the more desirable your property becomes.”

The Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech.

Reed gave credit to the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program for bringing people from throughout the Atlanta area to see the installations done by performing and visual artists. “The BeltLine has caused a boom in the neighborhoods close to it,” he said.

Established developments in the area are in growth mode, too. Georgia Tech has begun construction on the Campus Safety Building, a new home for its campus police, and the university’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design will rise at the corners of State Street and Ferst Drive.

Atlantic Station is starting a major expansion this year. It will add Atlantic Yards, a $189-million office project along 17th Street, and T3 Foundry Park, a stack of creative offices aimed at younger, tech-savvy employees. Both projects are expected to bring in 2,000 more workers once they’re completed in 2020. Also slated for Atlantic Station is a block of 364 apartments by AMLI – with 25,000 feet of street-level shops – and an Embassy Suites hotel.

Loring Heights Park

It’s important to note that Atlanta’s Westside and West Intown are not just newly rediscovered tracts of industrial plants and warehouses. Several beaut

iful, vibrant neighborhoods have been flourishing there. Loring Heights and Berkeley Park, both located between Midtown and Buckhead, are two prime examples.

“Atlanta continues to grow and one of the places we have space to grow is on the west side of the city. That’s why so much is happening so quickly,” explained Katherine Urquhart, Realtor with Kat U. Realty/Keller Williams and social director for the Loring Heights Neighborhood Association.

“Loring Heights is a very small community, just 320 homes,” she said. “We’re one of the last few Intown neighborhoods with tons of trees and a lot of the homes have beautiful views of the Midtown skyline.”

The community hasn’t experienced a drastic spike in housing costs due to the BeltLine, according to Urquhart. She said that, unlike some areas further west, Loring Heights didn’t see the low prices that were common there.

“The BeltLine doesn’t hurt anything, of course,” she said. “And due to the general increased interest in the BeltLine and Westside Park, an average home in Loring Heights lists for $550,000 or more.”

Berkeley Park

Adjacent Berkeley Park stretches from Northside Drive to Howell Mill Road. Will Crick, president of the Berkeley Park Neighborhood Association, said that since he bought his home three years ago, he has seen a major increase in interest from prospective homebuyers in the small neighborhood. He reported that in the past year there have been several remodels and a couple of new constructions.

Crick added that the BeltLine has been a transformative force for many neighborhoods around Atlanta and Berkeley Park is no exception. “The BeltLine is projected to run along the southern boundary of Berkeley Park,” he said, “and though it’ll probably be several years before it’s completed, many businesses – like Urban Tree Cidery – have made Berkeley Park their home in anticipation of the opportunity the BeltLine will bring.”

He’s also looking forward to other developments and improvements in the area, including the completion of Westside Park and the resurfacing of the Howell Mill corridor. “The addition of bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks will make Berkeley Park much more pedestrian friendly,” he said.

A rendering of Westside Station townhomes.

“Every month I see new faces eager to take part in making their new community a better place,” Crick said. “I see Berkeley Park transforming from a beautiful, but often overlooked neighborhood, to a thriving urban village that combines the quaintness of a small neighborhood with the excitement of an urban lifestyle.”

Urquhart reported that, overall, real estate in Westside and West Midtown is “going gangbusters. We listed a 100-year-old home in Howell Park that needed a lot of repair and restoration, and it sold for $60,000 over the asking price.”

Hinote predicted that as more retail and restaurants come in and housing remains affordable, young professionals will flock to the area. “I think the proximity to Downtown, Midtown and the whole ‘cool factor’ of West Midtown is attracting true urban dwellers, from millennials to empty nesters who still crave the city vibe,” he said.

There are specific hot spots that are bringing in homebuyers. “I think that West Highlands is very hot, especially with its proximity to Westside Park,” Hinote said. “It’s a place where you can get a new home, located close to Downtown, Midtown and West Midtown for under $400,000. That’s hard to find these days.”

The recently opened Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail.

Reed mentioned several other neighborhoods that are attention grabbers. “Right now, the historic Howell Station neighborhood, with homes ranging from $300,000 to $475,000, is happening due to its proximity to the BeltLine and Bellwood Quarry,” he said. “Westside Station, a brand-new community of homes from $429,000 to $599,000 is on fire right now. It offers a variety of new construction housing options from single family detached to townhouse style housing.”

Another neighborhood that’s happening, according to Reed, is Riverside, where single family homes from $179,000 to $450,000 are available. He added that a plethora of apartment buildings are in Westside and West Midtown, and more are being built to accommodate potential residents who prefer to rent or want to try out the area before buying a home.

Hinote advised millennials to consider purchasing rather than renting, however. “I think that now is the time to invest in the West Midtown area,” he advised. “I believe prices will continue to rise and equity in a purchase is going to rise as well. When I was 27, the equity that I gained in my first home was life changing when I went to sell just two years after purchasing.” From the Westside vantage point, the future looks bright. The area’s access to prime neighborhoods, parks, restaurants and the BeltLine will continue to draw more people from around the metro area, as well as those relocating from other metropolitan areas.

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