During Thursday’s board meeting, Teague, a principal with apartment developer Walton Communities, gave the CID board an update of the development occurring in the Cumberland area.
Most of the activity in the district, which is largely apartments and retail, is going on south of Interstate 285, he said.
Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, believes Cumberland will average 300 to 400 upscale apartment units opening per year.
“So what will happen is at the end of a year and half to two years, you’ll probably have all the units built,” Ott said.
Atlanta-based Worthing Companies is building a five-story, 300-apartment midrise, complete with parking deck near the intersection of Stillhouse Road and Cumberland Boulevard, slated to open in September, Teague said.
“Their rents are going to be about $1.40 a square foot,” Teague said. “Now, to put that in kind of relative terms, there are no apartments in Cobb County renting for $1.40 a square foot.”
For example, one of Teague’s apartment buildings, the 370-unit Walton River near Cumberland Boulevard and Akers Mill Road built in the late 1960s, rents for 95 cents a square foot.
“So Worthing’s apartments are substantially more than anything in the market, even more than Post Riverside, which is just south of us in Fulton County (on the southern side of the Chattahoochee River off U.S. 41),” he said. “Those are the nicest apartments in the area, really. They’re around $1.30.”
Teague said his company is building a five-story, 314-apartment midrise with a parking deck near the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Cumberland Boulevard — across the street from the AMC Parkway Pointe theater complex. He intends to charge $1.40 per square foot rent for those units, which will open in August 2013.
Next to the midrise, Walton is building a 12,000-square-foot shopping strip, which he intends to fill with businesses like Starbucks that need 2,000 or so square feet. He’s also building four freestanding retail buildings that he hopes to lease to restaurants and banks.
Last month, one of developer John Williams’ companies rezoned a site on Cumberland Boulevard next to Overton Park for a 300-unit, six-story apartment building, Teague said.
Overton Park, located on the east side of I-75, is where Williams has his dozen-or-so story office building. A five-story hotel is also going up near the site, Teague said.
In addition, Cumberland CID board member Mason Zimmerman, a senior vice president with Pope and Land Enterprises, received zoning approval to build a 240-unit apartment building on Cumberland Boulevard by the Worthing building. Zimmerman said his firm was still searching for a builder.
“Really it’s about 1,000 units that will go on Cumberland Boulevard and that, at a ratio of about 1 and a half people per apartment, that’s 1,500 people that will live on Cumberland Boulevard, so that’s going to change the character of the area I think in a very positive way because restaurants need young people,” Teague said. “This will be mostly I’d say people 30 to 50 probably living in these apartments, and of course those people will live in Cumberland, and that’s been our problem for years: Everybody works here and everybody leaves at night, so the restaurants, they have good lunch business, but poor dinner business.”
Currently, there are more than 10,000 apartment units in the Cumberland district, although very few in the CID’s core, but the planned apartments will command a far higher monthly rent than the existing units, Ott said.
Ott said when the word “apartment” is mentioned, people often think lower income with less then ideal conditions.
“Some of the apartment complexes that have been approved, more specifically in the Cumberland area, you’re talking upscale,” Ott said. “With the current economy and the younger generation that you’re trying to get to live in the Cumberland area that are moving down to Virginia Highland, they want to rent, but they also want something nice. They’re young executives making a good salary, so I think it’s very significant to hear that the rents that are going to be charged in these 1,000 plus units in the Cumberland area are higher than anywhere else outside of downtown Atlanta. The significance there is the income level of the people you’re going to attract are going to be higher, which means the shopping and the restaurants and some of the other amenities in that area are going to match the residents.”
Ott said the owners of Akers Mill Square, the 50-acre tract in the heart of Cumberland that leases to such businesses as Chick-fil-A and Babies “R” Us, have told him they are highly interested in the residential growth projected to come to the area.
Akers Mill Square is owned by a company out of New York that has resisted efforts to sell, Teague said.
“Sam Olens went to New York, Tom Cousins went to New York, John Williams went to New York to talk to this guy and try to get him to sell it,” Teague said. “Everybody wants to redevelop it into more density and transit stations. But the problem on retail sites, all these leases are long leases. Fifteen-, 20-year leases, so it’s hard to redevelop a shopping center because of these long-term leases.”
The same challenge is found at Cumberland Mall. Ideally, the mall’s parking lot would be developed into housing with parking moved into decks as is done at Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, Teague said.
“But most of those buildings over there are owned by Costco or Rich’s or Macy’s, and they’ve got leases and the leases specify the parking lot, and so it’s just hard to get control of land again once you do retail on it,” Teague said.
On the retail end, Teague said Owen Brown with Retail Planning Corporation is now managing the Parkway Pointe movie theater complex owned by Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management Inc.
While the Borders bookstore moved out of the location and is being followed by Old Navy, Teague said Brown has told him a number of retailers are interested in moving in. Teague said he was hoping for a grocery store at the site, but Kroger’s objected to the number of cars that park there for the movies on Saturday, the prime day for grocery shopping.
In other business, the board voted to keep its property tax rate at 5 mills, the same level since the CID’s inception in 1988.
CID attorney Lynn Rainey said that amount generates about $5.5 million from the 315 commercial properties in the district.
“It reflects a modest increase in the assessed value of the district by 1 percent,” Rainey said.
Over the last week the assessed values for all political jurisdictions in the county were published, from the county government, to the Marietta and Cobb school districts to the Cumberland and Town Center Area CIDs.
“Of those, there were only two political jurisdictions where the assessed values were higher than the previous year,” Rainey said. “Those two were the Town Center Area CID and the Cumberland CID, the only two jurisdictions where the assessed values are rising in this market, which is remarkable.”
The Town Center CID approved its tax rate earlier this week, also keeping it at 5 mills, the same level since it formed in 1997. That amount generates about $3 million on 513 commercial properties in Town Center, he said.
A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value.
Thursday’s meeting was also the time that CID Chairman Tad Leithead had previously said the board would consider helping to fund a $190,000 study conducted by land-use planner Chris Leinberger. But the subject never came up. The Journal left messages with Cumberland CID executive director Malaika Rivers to inquire what happened to the proposal, but she did not respond by press time.