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ATLANTA-John A. Williams, who has generated controversy and headlines as chairman and ex-chairman of Post Properties over the past four years, continues to draw attention as the guiding hand behind at least five new real estate-related companies he has formed this year. One of them, Grove Street Partners, just purchased the most expensive piece of dirt in the metro area, local land brokers who monitor such sales, tell GlobeSt.com.

Williams’ company paid local developer David Songy and his company, Songy Partners, $10 million or $5.9 million per acre ($1.35 per sf), for a 1.7-acre parcel at Peachtree and Straford roads. The site is adjacent to Dante’s Down the Hatch restaurant and across Peachtree from the 1.6-million-sf Lenox Square mall in the affluent Buckhead district.

Songy bought the dirt in 2003 for $6 million or $3.5 million per acre ($81.02 per sf). The site is the former home of the Art Institute of Atlanta which fell into foreclosure two years ago.

Retail brokers familiar with the acquisition tell GlobeSt.com Songy was planning to develop a 300,000-sf office structure and a high-rise, 150-unit condominium tower on the site. Now Grove Street Partners and Williams have the same idea and may partner with Songy, local brokers speculate.

The lot purchase by Williams and his firm follows locally based Cousins Properties Inc.’s plan two weeks ago to buy a 10-acre tract at Peachtree and Piedmont roads in Buckhead from Pope & Land Enterprises Inc. for an estimated $40 million or $4 million per acre, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. That $91.83-per-sf purchase would have been the highest per-acre and per-sf price paid for dirt here in decades. Now the Williams acquisition has topped the Cousins deal, local brokers familiar with both transactions, tell GlobeSt.com. Cousins expects to close the land deal shortly, brokers speculate.

In another big land deal, reported earlier this year by GlobeSt.com, locally based Novare Group and Wood Partners Inc. paid $7 million, or $3.5 million per acre ($80.35 per sf), to Pope & Land Enterprises for a prime two-acre parcel in the same general vicinity as the Williams and Cousins lots.

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