ATLANTA-Taking advantage of less expensive land south of Downtown, California-based Safe Harbor Development Inc. and locally based Gautier Construction and Development Inc. plan to have the first 120-unit phase of their estimated $50-million, 360-unit condominium community open by late 2005.

Like other developers who have discovered less expensive land on the south side, Safe Harbor is offering lower starting prices of $145,000 per unit on the condos, area brokers tell The second and final phase of the project is scheduled to open in 2006 and will have projected starting price tags of about $185,000 per unit. The condo venture is just north of the Metropolitan Parkway intersection at Interstate 85 near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

In another condo development proposal, locally based Post Properties Inc. is considering building a combined condominium and apartment complex in late 2005 on a long sought-after lot behind the 900,000-sf Phipps Plaza shopping center in the Buckhead submarket. The condo venture would be Post’s first in metro Atlanta, although it has already broken ground on a comparable $95-million, 12-story enterprise in Alexandria, VA that will have 205 apartments and 145 condo units.

Post president and CEO David Stockert says the REIT is entering the condo development arena because of three factors–customer demand, higher apartment vacancies and the entrance of major players such as the Novare Group, Wood Partners, Gellerstedt Group and Cousins Properties Inc. But buying the dirt in Buckhead at Lenox Road and Phipps Boulevard won’t be easy or cheap, area brokers familiar with the property tell Locally based Pope & Land Enterprises, a major area developer and investor, unsuccessfully tried to rezone the site in 2001 for class A offices and a hotel. Even a lawsuit that landed in the Georgia Supreme Court couldn’t get the property rezoned for Pope & Land. Houston-based Finger Cos. planned 925 apartment units on the site in July of this year but later shelved the project.

If Post also loses its rezoning bid for the Buckhead property, the REIT may consider a site behind the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in Midtown, area brokers tell Post is also searching nationwide for condo-conversion apartment properties in Dallas and Washington, DC, the company previously disclosed.

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