Former Northlake office park gets a new life

2245 and 2247 Northlake Parkway in Tucker are set to be converted to townhomes and apartments respectively. Photo courtesy of SDM Partners.

Tucker, GA — By the time 300 residential units are built at the former Yellow Pages buildings on Northlake Parkway, more than $120 million will have been spent on the property. 

Tucker City Council made the final move on July 11 to approve 80 rental townhomes at 2245 Northlake Parkway and 216 multifamily units in an adjacent, nine-story office building. 

Adaptive reuse – the conversion of an existing building for a new purpose – is an environmentally friendly way to increase housing in areas with an excess of empty commercial real estate. The Yellow Pages moved out of the property at Northlake Parkway more than a year ago.  

Jeff Taylor, executive vice president at commercial real estate firm JLL, said in March there is very little interest in leasing office space in Northlake.

“What we’re seeing from a macro level across Atlanta is a flight to quality,” said Taylor, “Buildings that have been built in 2015 or newer. Or they’re going into very highly amenitized mixed use projects such as the Battery and Avalon.”

The office buildings at 2245 and 2247 Northlake Parkway were purchased by SDM Partners in October 2017 with the goal to reinvigorate the commercial market in the area. After the pandemic hit in 2020, SDM Partners shifted to a residential model.  

Tucker City Council voted 6-1 to approve the applicant’s Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) to increase density to 30 units per acre, and 7-0 to modify zoning to relocate guest parking from the street to the existing parking deck. 

Councilmember Alexis Weaver, who voted no on the SLUP, said the city’s comprehensive plan calls to “integrate high quality affordable housing into new developments.” It’s unfair to allow the market to determine the price of rent, she said.  

“I appreciate very much $100 million in investment, but I also appreciate that this is our community. And yes, office rates are going up. You know what’s not going up? Wages. People are facing more and more costs … I have serious concerns about 643 sq. ft. [considered to be] affordable to a person making $93,000 per year,” said Weaver. “We need to be cautious about what we mean by ‘affordable’ and what we mean by ‘workforce housing.’” 

Steve Martin, managing principal of SDM Partners, said he’s putting his money where his mouth is by investing in the city. SDM Partners bought the shuttered office park for $41.5 million in 2018. Martin said he is putting about $30 million into the townhomes and about $60 million into the multi-family units. 

“We have a viable option to create a different use for the building that will be profitable for us, and an amenity and good thing for the city,” said Martin. 

The property will feature an onsite leasing office, coworking space, clubroom, gym, dog spa, pool and outdoor kitchen. Construction on the townhomes is set to begin soon. A timeline was not provided for the multifamily units. 

Hank Farmer, co-founder of Third and Urban, an Atlanta-based company that focuses on adaptive reuse, said the project is an environmentally sustainable way to add housing in Tucker. SDM brought on Third and Urban to develop the project.

“We see this as a pretty unique housing opportunity and potential to be creative and set a great precedent,” said Farmer. “It’s a great opportunity to increase the health of the office market by taking some supply offline.”

Editor’s note: To all local media outlets, if you didn’t attend this meeting, please have the professional integrity to credit our work if you’re going to write your own story “inspired” by our reporting. Sincerely, the Tucker Observer team. 

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