ROSWELL, GA. – The old Frazier Street apartments in Roswell will soon be no more if a national developer has its way. Lennar Multi-Family Investors LLC, wants to raze and rebuild the aging 150-unit apartment complex on 10.5 acres a half-block from City Hall and replace them with the next generation of luxury apartments.
It is perfectly situated to be handmaiden to the redevelopment now underway in Roswell.
The proposed $14 million Canton Street City Walk (the working title) apartment complex would reflect a change in the renter’s demographics, and Roswell’s Canton Street’s emergence as one of “the hottest new entertainment and dining districts in metro Atlanta,” said Lennar Southeast Division President Christopher Cassidy.
“We are in the center of what is Historic Roswell. It’s walkable, you have Canton Street’s entertainment and fine dining,” Cassidy said. “It is comparable to what you have in Virginia Highlands or downtown Decatur. It may not be on their scale yet, but over time it will be.”
Canton Street Walk will have pedestrian connectivity to the Canton Street entertainment.
Roswell Business Alliance Executive Director Steve Stroud said the timing of the Lennar project could not be better and will have a huge economic impact.
“First and most important is it brings new housing to the area and will obviously revitalize the area,” Stroud said. “And with 1,627 jobs announced since Oct. 1 , we have to have a place for them to live.”
It is a continuation of the revitalization that is going on now in Roswell’s downtown, he said.
“The recession is over in Roswell,” Stroud said. “It’s a true pedestrian community there, and this will give it just that much more visibility to that lifestyle that has been created in the Canton Street area.”
What Lennar sees in Roswell is a “hole” where there is a need to give young professionals the opportunity to have access to Roswell’s emerging downtown. They want to live in an urban environment that doesn’t have to be served by the automobile and offers the entertainment amenities that they are looking for and Roswell has.
“We want to fill the need for a leased flat product that would fit that need for the Gen-Ys and ‘Millennials’ who are coming of age now but are postponing some life decisions,” Cassidy said. “They are not getting married, they’re buying homes later. And we are catering to that lifestyle.”
The project should also appeal to the 35 to 45 crowd that might include single dads as well as more people are adopting the urban lifestyle. More and more people are adopting the “lock and leave” concept of an alternative to being tied to a mortgage.
“It’s not because they cannot afford home ownership economically. It’s because they choose not to own or buy because they want the freedom to relocate jobs or just enjoy the urban lifestyle in a community like this,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy said what he does not expect to see are children getting on the bus in the morning. This is a community designed for active adults.
“We are filling a niche that Roswell can’t fill right now,” he said.
And Canton Street Walk won’t be your fathers’ apartment community. Not only does Lennar cater to the young urban professionals, it wants to capture the empty-nesters looking to downsize. While 60 percent of the units will be one-bedroom flats, 40 percent will be two-bedrooms, 10 percent of the two-bedroom units will have a den and space up to 2,400 square feet. Leases will run a little north of $1,000 per month for the 625-square-foot one-bedroom flats to $2,400 for the top-end two-bedroom-den units. These will include rooftop terrace apartments.
Interior finishings will be upscale too. Apartment units will come with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and 10-foot ceilings. Concierge services will be available including laundry service, pet walking and bicycle racks. It will have 35 to 40 garages.
“We will have the same finishes that you find when you walk into a four-, five- or six-hundred thousand dollar home,” Cassidy said. “In my estimation there will be no community like this in Roswell. We believe the area will continue to build around it to get the synergies and the densities created around it that you need to make Canton Street more walkable.”
What is important to the younger renter and many older ones as well is that the amenities and the connectivity to all the things that they want are right there.
“People are willing to pay for that today,” Cassidy said. “What we are selling is a lifestyle. People want to live in a community that gives them what they are looking for.”
What’s driving apartment living today?
As president of the Southeast Division of Lennar Multi-Family Investors LLC, it is Christopher Cassidy’s job to know what today’s tenants want from apartment life.
Yes, there are those who are looking for more affordable housing than buying or renting a home. But there has been huge demographic shift in the market creating a demand for more upscale housing.
“Over the last 50 years, families with children have driven the housing market. Today, less than 25 percent of homes are owned by families with children. So what we are seeing is that we are coming back to where we started,” Cassidy said.
After World War II, the baby boomers came home to start families and with the G.I. Bill could afford homes in that new phenomenon, the suburbs. Now the cities have expanded to the suburbs.
“Today, those suburbs are becoming more and more urban. To live comfortably in the urban setting, they want to get back to create that lifestyle you had in a town of the first half the 20th century,” he said.
That means a mixture of residential and commercial uses that allow residents to park the car and walk to the drugstore, walk to the cleaners and walk, perhaps to work. They’ll go to the corner restaurant for dinner.
What they want to escape is the segregation of shopping center here, work over there, and residential way over there, requiring an automobile to connect the dots of daily life.
Today’s young professionals and many older ones want to live in neighborhoods where all of these life connections meet in the same place.