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ATLANTA-In the most destructive multifamily event here in decades, fire of undetermined origin destroyed Lane Co.’s 322-unit, $55-million, sold-out luxury Element condos project nearing completion at the 138-acre Atlantic Station redevelopment in Midtown.

Also destroyed or damaged were about 125 other luxury condo units at Lane’s two-year-old, 347-unit, $48-million nearby Art Foundry community. Persons in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com an early total damage assessment later this week could come in at $75 million. No one was injured in the early morning Sunday blaze, according to Atlanta fire department officials.

Fire department officials are not ruling out arson as a cause of the blaze, persons close to the investigation tell GlobeSt.com. Lane officials couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the estimated total damage figure or when the destroyed homes would be rebuilt and reopened . Electrical wiring had not yet been installed in the destroyed Element homes, persons monitoring activity at the fire scene tell GlobeSt.com.

Homeowners at both condo communities had paid an average $250,000 per unit before the projects were constructed. Midtown brokers intimate with the hot condo market tell GlobeSt.com the retail value of those units today would average about $320,000.

Element was scheduled to open in March. Buyers paid $100,000 to $400,000 for the units before the project even broke ground in September 2004, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. At Art Foundry, a Lane representative tells GlobeSt.com 25 units were “severely damaged” and another 80 homes were closed to assess damage. All of the 347 units were fully occupied before the fire.

Lane is developing 1,000 luxury condo units at five separate properties at Atlantic Station. The projects are located around Commons Park, the largest public park in the Midtown area. Lane’s condos are near the newly opened IKEA store and the retail and entertainment district at Atlantic Station which is planned for 12 million sf of retail, office, residential and hotel space.

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