Next January, the Lane Co., an Atlanta-based multifamily real estate firm, will begin construction on a $75 million, 18-acre project that would include 342 for-rent apartments and 57 for-sale townhouses, located within walking distance of the city's ambitious Beltline redevelopment, which is being designed to spread the anticipated growth of Atlanta's population more equitably across the city over the next 25 years.

Perhaps best known for its residential development in the mixed-use Atantic Station project in midtown Atlanta, Lane will build its newest community in Grant Park, near Zoo Atlanta, which will include eight acres of parks and recreational areas. The apartments there will range from 750 to 1,250 square feet, with monthly rents expected to average $1,200. The townhouses will range from 1,500 to 2,100 square feet with an average selling price of $290,000, according to Edward Monarchik of Lane Investment & Development Corp., a subsidiary of the Lane Co. Sales should begin next spring, he confirms.

This project might seem a bit risky, given Atlanta's suddenly soft housing market, which slumped all summer. Smart Numbers, which tracks local real estate trends, reports that Atlanta's home closings in August alone fell 34.6 percent, the biggest decline since 1996. However, Lane's Grant Park project would also be near the Beltline rail tracks, which the Atlanta Development Authority is proposing to convert into a 22-mile transit loop around in-town Atlanta. It would be linked to the city's light rail system and include a streetcar system. Over the next quarter century Beltline would offer over 1,200 acres of parkland, 44 miles of trails, and 5,600 new workforce-housing units. Atlanta estimates this project, which will cost between $2.1 billion and $2.8 billion to complete, would produce 30,000 permanent jobs, 48,000 yearlong construction jobs, and generate a $20 billion increase in the tax base. Atlanta would issue $1.7 billion in bonds to pay for this project, with the expectation that these expenditures would be covered by the property taxes the Beltline produces.

"The location was the real draw, and the Beltline was a bonus," Monarchik tells BUILDER about Lane's Grant Park plan.

Atlanta hopes its Beltline redevelopment would distribute its burgeoning population more evenly over different areas of town. The Atlanta Regional Commission forecasts that 150,000 residents will move into the city of Atlanta between 2005 and 2030. If Beltline can attract 50,000 of those newcomers, more of Atlanta's population would end up living in the city's previously overlooked south and west sectors.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.