This Week in Atlanta Real Estate: Positive economic news rallies stocks, rising construction costs and more

by Meg White

The stock market rallied today on news that touches both real estate and Atlanta in particular. The Labor Department reported today that non-farm payrolls increased by 312,000 in December, easily topping expectations, and average hourly earnings rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier, matching the quickest pace since 2009. Locally, unemployment was down almost a full percentage point in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell Census tract year-over-year. Last year at this time the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that unemployed people made up 4.1 percent of the Atlanta area labor force, but that number has come down to 3.2 percent in 2018.

Just as the market was reacting to higher-than-expected gains in employment figures, the financial market’s attention turned to Atlanta due to the presence of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on a panel with former Fed leaders at a conference in the city. The Wall Street Journal reported that markets also reacted favorably to Powell’s suggestion that the central bank isn’t necessarily fixed on pushing its benchmark interest rate higher this year.

In other local real estate news:

  • High construction costs in Atlanta are causing some developers to renegotiate. In an attempt to tamp down rising price tags, North American Properties went so far as to secure an agreement with its general contractor that will cap any construction cost increases, according to Bisnow. The deal came about on the company’s Colony Square project — which includes residential condos among the retail, office and hotel spaces planned in the Midtown redevelopment. The report also cited research from CBRE that indicates Atlanta’s construction costs are rising faster than other places in the nation, and more quickly than historical norms for the area.
  • Enfold Properties’ plans for a 115-unit residential complex south of downtown’s Gulch are coming closer to reality. The company released a rendering last week of the Smith & Porter Railside Flats in Castleberry Hill. Though leasing hasn’t yet begun, Curbed Atlanta reported that the project is expected to be open to residents in April and completed by the end of the summer. The one- and two-bedroom rentals will run between $1,300 and $1,600 a month, though luxury options will run around the $2,000 mark. Enfold’s looking to combine “warehouse-inspired authenticity” with a “fully modern approach to amenities and features” at the $19.3 million Peters Street location. As Curbed points out, this is just one of many residential developments coming to the Gulch area in anticipation of redevelopment there; HGTV’s Ty Pennington is working on an adaptive-reuse condominium project, and the mixed-use revamp of the Norfolk Southern Buildings is expected to house hundreds of new residents.