Avalon 97% leased with 189 days to go

Topping out party means NAP passing baton to new tenants



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Avalon had a party last week to celebrate another milestone – the “topping out” of the property. That is the setting of the last beam in the last building of the retail quarter of what will eventually be North American Properties’ $600 million mixed-use residential, commercial and office playland of North Fulton.

But North American Properties Managing Partner Mark Toro and his associates had much more to celebrate than the end of principal construction (although finishings will take another six months). Toro has a whopping 93 percent of the property signed to leases with another 4 percent of the property in the last stages of negotiations for leases.

“In effect, we are 100 percent leased with six months to go. That is practically unheard of,” Toro said.

In all, there will be 500,000 square feet of retail on 87 acres.

There has been so much interest in the residential components of the property – both single-family and luxury rental units (Avalon doesn’t use the word “apartment”) – that they won’t discuss prices yet.

Michael Davis, service development manager for NAP, said there are 1,400 firm letters of interest for the 101 Monte Hewitt homes on Avalon property. Sotheby’s International Realty, the leasing agency, received more than 900 letters of interest in the first three weeks of solicitation.

“We’re still six months away from opening. We just don’t know yet what sort of numbers these properties are going to generate,” Davis said.

Avalon officials did say they expect the250 luxury units above the retail to start around $2 per square foot. One bedroom units will range from around 812 square feet to 1,100 square feet. The two-bedroom, 2.5 bath units range from 1,200 square feet to 1,789 square feet.

Likewise, Monte Hewitt Homes has not yet set home values for the 22 single-family homes and some 75 courtyard attached-homes planned. With around 1,500 letters of interest in hand and construction more than a year away, the company has not been able to establish value yet.

The 108,000 square feet of office loft space above retail is 54 percent pre-leased. Even the architect is moving in. Lamar Wakefield of Wakefield Beasley and Associates will relocate corporate offices from Norcross to a prime spot with 3,200 square feet overlooking the central fountain of Avalon.

Retail Avalon space begins at $32 per square foot and tops at $45 a square foot. Most shells for retailers to finish are around 225 square feet.

It will also be a gigabyte community, which means for $99 a month, anyone can have a gigabyte of data online, some of the fastest speeds commercially available.

Speaking to his guests at the topping out party, Toro said they were surrounded by the first $370 million of investment coming up out of the ground.

It is all for what Toro calls “experiential lifestyle.” People won’t come to just shop or just eat at one of Avalon’s “killer” restaurants. Instead it will all be part of an Avalon experience that in turn pampers, amazes and spoils visitors and residents alike.

And there is more to come. When the market is ready, another $350 million in Class A office space is ready for development. Alpharetta officials also are negotiating a public-private partnership in a five-star hotel and convention center.

“No one has been more supportive than the city of Alpharetta,” Toro said. “That didn’t mean they made it easy for us though. But they helped make it great.”

Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle in turn had words of praise for Avalon.

“It is just one more great thing – a marvelous thing – that makes this city a special place,” Belle Isle said.

Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann echoed those thoughts calling Avalon “one more piece of the puzzle” that generates tax revenue, creates jobs and attracts more jobs and development to Fulton County.

“Avalon will generate $21 million in sales tax alone. Another $4.5 million in property taxes and $2.1 million for the hotel-motel tax will come from Avalon. When you have to deal with Fulton County’s $100 million shortfall and cutting much needed services, you can really appreciate what Avalon has done here,” Hausmann said.

Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce President Brandon Beach branded Avalon as an “iconic and transformational” development for North Fulton.

“Today, we can see that this is true. It is iconic, and it is transformational. And you just don’t see many $600 million developments being built,” he said.

MH 04-30-14

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