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Old August 18th, 2006, 03:50 PM   #1
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48 Story Hilton and Condo for Buckhead

Atlanta Business Chronicle - 2:33 PM EDT Thursdayby Rachel Tobin RamosStaff Writer

Another luxury project is in the works in Buckhead -- this one with $6 million condominiums, a 300-room hotel and exclusive fashion boutiques that could lure the likes of Prada and Gucci.

In other words, something that might seem more at home on the Champs-Elysées than Peachtree Road.

Developer Charles Ackerman, responsible for Tower Place and the Swissôtel (now the Buckhead Westin), is planning the project at 3368 and 3372 Peachtree, where there's now a Christian Science church and the parking lot for Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant.

Ackerman & Co.'s three-phase development will include 498 luxury condos, 300 hotel rooms and 12,500 square feet of retail space.

He wouldn't disclose the cost, but hinted it will be several hundred million dollars.

Partners in the development include Destin and Atlanta-based hotel developers Sandcastles Resorts & Hotels; Atlanta's Wood Partners LLC for the condominiums; and Bob Day and Joe Wilen's Day Capital.

The architect is Joe Rabun with Rabun Rasche Rector and Reece, also the architect of the Four Seasons in Midtown and the planned Buckhead St. Regis.

In phase one, stores will rise on Peachtree Street, topped by three floors of condos that Ackerman expects to sell for an eyebrow-raising $6 million each.

This comes on the heels of developer John Williams and City Centre Properties LLC's plans for $3 million condominiums at The Mansion on Peachtree, a 50-story mixed-use tower at 3376 Peachtree Road. Both are unprecedented prices for Atlanta.

Phase two of Ackerman's project will boast a luxury, 300-room Hilton hotel, topped by 190 condos in a 43-story tower, with a five-story underground parking deck. (Ackerman says to imagine a Hilton more akin to a Ritz-Carlton.)

A 20-story tower with 300 condos will be built behind the hotel in the final phase.

"This will be the first Hilton Hotel built in Atlanta for 30 years," said Fred Alias, of Sandcastles, whose company has built seven Hiltons. A contractual agreement expiring this year with the owners of the downtown Hilton had prohibited any new Hilton brands in a large radius around the hotel.

Alias said he's in "pre-negotiations" with Paris Hilton to get the celebrity hotel heiress to attend the groundbreaking.
Alias said the hotel will include 10,000 square feet of meeting space, an indoor/outdoor pool, a 20-room spa and a restaurant he hopes will be Atlanta's power breakfast hub and lunchtime equivalent of Brasserie Le Coze, which recently closed in Lenox Square. Sandcastles will manage the hotel.

"This project will really be about quality," Alias said. He's commissioning a sculpture and fountain for the hotel's 1-acre piazza, inspired by Rome's Villa Borghese.

The whole deal became a reality after Ackerman, who has owned most of the land for 20 years, finally acquired the Peachtree Road piece when he bought the Christian Science Church's property this spring. Maggiano's will remain open, he said.

Ackerman has several hoops to jump through before his project will break ground.

He'll first have to win a rezoning for the property, including a height variance. If construction starts in March, Ackerman hopes to finish the project in two years, or in 2009.

The project will be called The Stratford, named after Stratford Road, which runs along one side of the project.

Ackerman is joining a long list of developers who have found that Peachtree Road, between Piedmont and Lenox, is becoming Atlanta's equivalent to Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive, Manhattan's Fifth Avenue or Paris' famed Champs-Elysées.

"Buckhead is growing up," said Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and a former Atlanta mayor.

Buckhead provides economic insurance for developers, Massell said. Occupancy levels in Buckhead are the highest in the city in all categories, from office and retail to multifamily and hotel. Buckhead also provides 45 percent of the city's ad valorem taxes, he said. All of these indicators are what commercial investors crave, he said.

And Mark Vaughan, vice president of marketing and sales for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Buckhead's shopping and dining are popular for certain group meetings, especially in the medical field.

"The Buckhead hotel market has always been relatively stable, even during downturns of the hotel industry," he added.

So far in 2006, hotel occupancy in Buckhead has jumped 7.6 percent, he said.

Massell, Vaughan and Ackerman all agree that $40 million in streetscape improvements to Peachtree Road are adding to Buckhead's appeal. Massell said he's counting on the new tree-lined medians to improve traffic. Ackerman said his project will be on a MARTA station, another bonus.

Ackerman's proposed $6 million condos may be an eye-opener to some. In 2005, not a single condominium sold for more than $3 million anywhere in Fulton County, according to data from First Multiple Listing Service.

But a recent study has shown that the market for high-end condos in Atlanta could ripen, as more Atlantans join the millionaire's club.

Massell said he's aware of five condo developments in Buckhead where units start at $1 million.

"I think it shows that the magnetic power of Buckhead is stronger than it's ever been. That's indicative of a quality of life that people want and are willing to pay for," said Massell.

Ackerman has been in real estate since 1967. His company has developed more than 100 properties in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, valued at more than $2 billion.

He said Buckhead's stature in Atlanta will grow, and Peachtree will become more pedestrian-oriented.

"Like the Champs-Elysées in Paris, there will be nothing like it."
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Old August 19th, 2006, 09:33 AM   #2
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Pretty nice looking building.
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Old August 19th, 2006, 06:19 PM   #3
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Very nice, indeed. Looks like another good addition to the skyline there.
Baltimore, my hometown.
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