Three and a half blocks in Buckhead Village in Atlanta are set to be demolished next year and replaced by condos and luxury retail. Developer Ben Carter is redeveloping more than seven acres of the historic saloon district into an $800 million mixed-use project with retail, hotels and mid-rise condos. The project, Buckhead Avenues, is expected to open in 2009, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The development calls for 375,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and more than 70,000 square feet of office space. The tallest building, at 18 stories, would have hotel rooms and residential units. The redevelopment would overturn the neighborhood’s notorious, alcohol-soaked history.
Investor interest in lab property in Cambridge is at an all-time high, the Boston Business Journal reported. Money pouring into the life sciences sector in the neighborhood has seen a five-fold increase in the past three years, largely a result of the limited supply of lab buildings and the competition between major life science real estate investment trusts. In 2006, $823 million was spent on 2.1 million square feet of lab property in Cambridge. Before 2005 the only lab building sold in Cambridge was at 620 Memorial Drive, which sold in 2004 for $46.5 million, or $508 per square foot. State-of-the-art lab buildings can now sell for up to $1,000 per square foot. Two REITs in particular — Alexandria Real Estate Equities and BioMed Realty Trust — have spent increasingly large sums of money to acquire lab properties.
Some Boston neighborhoods are fighting back against the increasing number of college students taking up residence. Students, who for years have lived in large numbers in neighborhoods such as the Fenway and Allston/Brighton, are increasingly moving to other neighborhoods around the city, the Boston Globe reported. Statistics show sharp increases in the number of students living off campus in neighborhoods including Beacon Hill and Mission Hill in Roxbury. On Beacon Hill and in the West End, the number of Suffolk University and Northeastern University students increased from 344 in 2005 to 635 in 2006, according to a student housing census the Boston Redevelopment Authority began last year. Some residents say the influx of students is responsible for noise and public safety concerns.
Investors are taking advantage of Chicago’s rebounding hotel market, which has been somewhat slower to recover than New York City’s. Both occupancy and room rates are on an upward trend, Commercial Property News reported. According to Smith Travel Research, the average daily room rate in Chicago this fall was up to $119 from $107 a year ago. Occupancy increased to 68 percent from nearly 65 percent during the same period a year ago. Investors have been making large hotel purchases, including DiamondRock Hospitality’s purchase of the Conrad Chicago Hotel on North Michigan Avenue on the Magnificent Mile for $118 million, or $400,000 per room. One analyst said the city has around 1,200 rooms at the high end of the market but could support more than that number.
The Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas, is struggling with its fast-growing population. The school system adds about a dozen schools a year and has become the fifth-largest in the nation, the Las Vegas Sun reported. This year, it topped 300,000 students at 325 campuses, and the district is looking at putting more schools on year-around schedules — a move generally opposed by parents. Proceeds from a $3.5 billion bond measure approved by voters in 1998 are almost spent, and the district says it will be short by as many as eight elementary schools in 2008.
In November, the statewide median price of an existing single-family home was $555,290, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier and 0.7 percent higher than in October, according to the California Association of Realtors. Sellers may be getting more realistic about pricing their properties, according to the Los Angeles Times. In April, the median sale price of an existing California home was 10 percent lower than the original list price. By November, that gap had closed to nearly zero.
Arizona became the fastest-growing state in the nation last year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau report. Arizona added 213,000 residents between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006 — growing at a 3.6 percent pace and narrowly beating out perennial first-place finisher Nevada, which grew at a rate of 3.5 percent. Cities like Phoenix are increasingly seeing migration from California. Demographers say that most of Arizona’s growth comes from “in-migration” — residents of other parts of the country, especially Southern California, resettling there.
Two office buildings in northwest Phoenix sold last month for $91 million to a Detroit-based pension fund, the Arizona Republic reported. The buildings, located at 3151 and 3202 West Behrend Drive, are occupied by American Express. Brokers say the combined purchases are significant in Phoenix’s office building sales market, where the average deal is $15 to $20 million.
Hotels in San Francisco are spending green to go green. San Francisco’s hotel industry is cutting back on toxic chemicals and energy bills, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The Orchard Garden Hotel, set to open in a newly constructed $25 million building at 466 Bush Street, will be one of only four operating hotels in the nation certified by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. The hotel will use a cardkey system, already in widespread use in Asia and Europe, that starts or stops power to a room when the guest enters or leaves, cutting energy use. The hotel will also use old-school soap and water to wash bedding instead of dry cleaning. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco installed a power system a year ago that enables the hotel to generate some of its own electricity rather than having to rely on the municipal power grid.
While Bay Area prices are still mostly holding their own, the Sacramento residential market has been faltering. That’s particularly been the case in the new home market. The median price of a new house in Sacramento County fell 14.6 percent in November to $395,250 compared with a year prior, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Developers are offering perks including higher-quality appliances, mortgage discounts and swimming pools. The incentives and price cuts have created an unusual situation where it’s cheaper to buy a new house than an old one, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The D.C. housing market saw prices remain relatively flat near the close of 2006. The median price for a house in the D.C. area was down 2 percent to $450,000 from November 2005 to November 2006, the Washington Post reported. The area is faring better than the United States as a whole, however. In October, the latest month for which figures were available, the median sales price of a single-family house dropped 3.5 percent to $221,000. That was the largest year-to-year decline on record, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The area where Foggy Bottom runs into Georgetown is seeing a spate of new development. Washington’s West End is getting 92 condominiums in a project called 22 West by Georgetown developer Anthony Lanier. The $100 million project at 22nd and M streets NW will have units ranging from $700,000 for a one-bedroom to $3 million for a three-bedroom with den. The project is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2008, the Washington Post reported. The former Columbia Hospital nearby is being converted to housing, and at 24th and M streets developer JBG Cos. of Chevy Chase has an apartment project. The 414-room Washington Marriott at M and 22nd is undergoing a $6 million renovation that will be done in the spring of next year, and the Renaissance M Street Hotel is undergoing a $26 million overhaul.