This Week in Atlanta Real Estate: Atlanta’s ‘Amazon effect,’ new transit plans and more

by Andrew Morrell

Despite rumors the city was a top finalist, Atlanta was not one of the cities chosen by Amazon for its next major headquarters location. But even though the massive online retailer won’t be bringing a substantial number of highly paid workers to the Atlanta area, the city could still experience some of the same positive economic effects. Zillow economist Aaron Terrazas noted that many of the cities that were close-but-not-enough to Amazon’s final choice—such as Atlanta, Chicago and Denver—are expected to perform better than average over the next year in terms of home price appreciation and general growth. According to a panel of experts surveyed by Terrazas, Atlanta’s home prices are expected to grow by 13 percent through next year, while the rest of the country will see appreciation rates of just 3.8 percent on average.

Terrazas surmised much of this price growth would come from renewed interest in Atlanta from employers and other real estate investors, many of whom were likely lured there by Amazon’s very public HQ2 campaign. For example, he reported that major railroad operator Norfolk Southern is considering relocating its own headquarters to Atlanta.

In other local real estate news:

  • No2 Opus Place in Midtown, which would be Atlanta’s new tallest building if completed as planned, is another step closer to breaking ground after months of delays. Curbed Atlanta reported that developers for the project received approval from the city’s Bureau of Planning to add 214,000 square feet of office space to its existing plans to flesh out the tower with luxury condos. This marks a significant turnaround from the project’s status as recently as May of this year, when plans for the 53-story tower were in limbo. The team behind No2 Opus Place now expect groundbreaking to begin early next year, with completion coming sometime in 2021.
  • MARTA’s board of directors announced December 6 that it approved plans for a new commuter rail line serving Clayton County and a greater portion of south metro Atlanta. As proposed, the new train line would span 22 miles, beginning at the East Point MARTA station and ending in Lovejoy. In addition, the board approved plans to add a bus rapid transit line serving areas between College Park Station and Southlake Mall. Much of Clayton County was underserved by MARTA until voters approved a 1 cent sales tax in 2014 to expand the area’s transit service. MARTA said it expects construction on the Clayton County rail line to begin in 2023 and be ready for service by 2027.
  • Ride-hailing service Lyft is celebrating the end of the year with its “Lyftie Awards” in multiple cities, highlighting the top destinations in 2018 according to rider activity. In Atlanta, Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia-Highland was named the city’s most popular bar among Lyft riders. Buckhead came out as the area’s biggest “late-night neighborhood.” But in terms of the city’s favorite late-night restaurant, Atlanta Lyft riders demonstrated a taste for the simple pleasures: Waffle House took home that particular honor.