Friday, June 12, 2009

Eon going into foreclosure

I don't have much to say about this particular development going belly up, but I wanted to highlight it for one main reason. Some legislators have criticized MARTA for entering partnership deals like this one (particularly this deal, I think). I don't particularly like the AJC's framing of the situation:
One half of the residential component of MARTA’s transit-oriented development at the Lindbergh station may be in jeopardy of foreclosure.

A published legal notice says the condominium project Eon at Lindbergh —- a key piece in MARTA’s strategy to win more riders through hassle-free commutes —- will be sold to the highest bidder July 7 on the steps of the Fulton County Courthouse...

Though MARTA officials say the real estate implosion was beyond the transit agency’s control, the failure may represent a crack in its strategy for growth.
I don't think Eon's failure really has that much to do with MARTA. MARTA didn't design the building, manage the marketing, or put any money into the deal. MARTA sold the developers the land, helped come up with the master plan for the area around the MARTA station 10 years ago. They also put in at least $80 in infrastructure for the early phases of the development with Carter for the Bell South office components (although I have no idea how much of this was improvements to the station, etc.)

Lindbergh City Center has okay retail going right now (Taco Mac, Longhorns, Chili's), large Bell South offices, and an apartment complex that is 97% occupied. The overall development probably helped spur much of what is going on right now nearby - Lindbergh Vista apartments, the redevelopment of Lindbergh Plaza, and Lane's Lindmont redevelopment. I think MARTA also gets leasing revenue from the Bell South building.

My point is that the big picture for the City Center project has been good for the city, and in my opinion is far preferable to what Piedmont Road used to be. It isn't just about MARTA's plan to grow ridership, but it is about transforming the city and spurring smart growth. City Center certainly could have been done better on many levels, and it didn't always spur exemplary growth (ahem, Sembler's Lindbergh Plaza), but it was a big step in the right direction and shouldn't be used as an opportunity to pile on MARTA.

4 comments:

  1. I totally agree. I think the AJC article is pandering to it's anti-mass-transit audience by inappropriately setting up MARTA as a villain here.

    I'm fairly impressed with the way City Center turned out (my gripes are mostly with the boring architecture) and I would love to see more transit-oriented developments like this around MARTA stations. Especially if they provide affordable housing and access to transit options for middle-income families.

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  2. Is this the first major element of transit-oriented development? I think if it is, it's not totally unusual that there would be some hiccups.

    I mean, just the fact that there needs to be a specific initiative regarding transit-oriented development tells you how far we need to go as a city.

    So in a city where it took a while to realize that building residences near MARTA stations makes sense, it's going to take a long time to get it completely right, IMO.

    Thanks for the update.

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  3. I don't know what pandering there is. City Center is a neat place and a temporary victim of bad timing. And it's on the frontier of the way Atlanta folks live.

    I hope it doesn't turn into a ghost town in the short term. That's kind of what it feels like now, kind of on the edge of success or failure. This could be horrible if it goes south. I hope the office space can hold it together until better times.

    All things considered this property is by far the best it's been in the more than 40 years I've lived here. But it's a shame that Shoney's is closed.

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  4. Terry -- that decaying, old boarded-up Shoney's building is sad to see. I wish someone would buy that property and put it out of it's misery.

    I agree about Piedmont Road. Even though it still has some skanky spots, it's a heck of a lot better looking than it used to be. I remember going to see foreign/art movies at the Screening Room in the 1980s and that whole area was repulsive and scary from Sydney Marcus down to Cheshire Bridge.

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