AS THE MILLENNIUM DAWNED, THE Braden Fellman Group, developer and builder of Greenwood Lofts in Atlanta, was poised to take advantage of a number of hot-button trends: infill construction, loft living, and for-sale rather than for-rent apartments. The company had almost 20 years of experience in renovating older apartment buildings with architectural charm, all with in-town locations. That naturally led to the world of lofts and adaptive reuse. “Around 2000, after watching the markets, we began to move from a rental product to a for-sale product, which brought us to Greenwood Lofts, which was right in our own Virginia-Highland neighborhood,” says Preston Snyder, Braden Fellman's president.
The three-quarter–acre site was home to an old concrete-block photographer's studio that wasn't worth saving, so the builder started from scratch, garnering support from nearby residents to obtain a zoning change and getting out from under a pesky cellular tower easement. For design help, Snyder and company turned to Brock Green Architects and Planners, a local firm with significant experience in adaptive re-use and historic work. “Greenwood Lofts has the feeling of a historic design even with being a new product because it's very sensitive to the neighborhood, which has single-family homes with Craftsman elements,” says Snyder.
The building is three stories over one level of parking. It mixes brick, stone, and stucco, and has such Craftsman touches as a hip roof and deep eaves. The apartments are what some might call soft lofts, with open floor plans and some exposed ductwork but more drywall than concrete as a primary material. They don't have what Snyder calls a true hard loft's more thorny signatures: leaky windows and drafts.
The bulk of the buyers at Greenwood Lofts are what you would expect for a well-priced, in-town loft building: singles in their 30s and 40s. But some of the larger units at the higher price points are attracting an older crowd. “We've got the empty-nesters in their 50s who have sold the big house in Gwinnett County for a half-million and want to live closer to downtown,” says Snyder. “The neighborhood has paid off well for us. The loan is paid off, we've sold 26 of the 33 units, and we did that about on the schedule we expected. The last units are where our profits are so we're in no rush to get out.”
PROJECT: Greenwood Lofts, Atlanta; SIZE: .76 acres; TOTAL UNITS: 33; SALES STARTED: July 2003; SALES THROUGH JUNE 2004: 26; PRICE: $139,900 to $369,900; UNIT SIZE: 651 to 1,536 square feet; BUILDER/DEVELOPER: Braden Fellman Group, Atlanta; RCHITECT: Brock Green Architects and Planners, Atlanta
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.