To say the BeltLine has changed Atlanta would be an understatement. Though The New York Times recently referred to it as a ‘glorified sidewalk,’ its construction has left real estate prices soaring in its trail – to the tune of 50 to 60% appreciation from 2012 to 2015 vs. 30 percent in the rest of the city.
Does Atlanta’s next mixed-use, mega-project have the potential to impact Atlanta real estate even more dramatically? And is the Westside destined to be Atlanta’s hottest neighborhood? Let’s explore…
What is the project?
Just 1 mile from Midtown, The Bellwood Quarry was once a prison labor camp and granite extraction site. Today, the 400-foot-hole eyesore is carefully guarded behind fences and (legally) accessible only via the BeltLine Bus Tour. However, you’ve almost surely seen it on TV and in movies. Walking Dead fans might recognize it as the survivor’s camp in season one, and it was featured in the first Hunger Games movie and Netflix’s recent hit, Stranger Things.
The Westside Quarry Project will convert the hole into a 2.4-billion-gallon reservoir, boosting the city’s backup water supply from 3 days to thirty. Given Atlanta’s water supply is among the lowest of all east coast metro cities, this is much needed.
That is not what’s getting Atlanta residents and real estate investors so excited, however. Also planned is a 300-acre park surrounding the reservoir—projected to be city’s largest park with about 30% more acreage than Piedmont Park. The expanded and redeveloped Westside Reservoir Park will also be linked with the BeltLine. And the 2009 Master Plan includes everything from baseball fields, hiking trails, and skate parks to paintball, rock climbing, zip lining, and an outdoor theatre.
So, when can we expect this?
They officially broke ground on the Quarry project in September 2016—starting by drilling a 5-mile tunnel to connect the reservoir with water treatment plants and the Chattahoochee River intake. Wondering how big of a drill they needed?
The city called on Atlanta residents to name the $11 million mammoth drill. The contest winner was ‘Driller Mike.’ A nod, of course, to hometown hero rapper, ‘Killer Mike’, pictured here.
The drilling is expected to be complete by the end of the 2017, with the reservoir following by the end of 2018. The bad news? The park is still far off… Funding is not concrete and no projections have been made. Though city planners estimate it would be built in 5-phases over 15 years.
Which neighborhoods will this impact most?
Knight Park/Howell Station, Grove Park, Rockdale, West Highlands, and Bankhead surround the park’s perimeter. These neighborhoods represent a wide range of home prices and development. Perhaps unsurprisingly to those who’ve spent some time in West Midtown recently, that’s where we’re seeing the most market activity right now. Over the last 24 months, the median price per square foot has increased 22% from $169 to $207.
But should investors or home buyers looking for a potential park appreciation be getting excited quite yet? Though we’re seeing real estate listings start to tout the park as a selling feature, this might be a little overzealous. After all, the park isn’t a done deal yet. And when it is, it will be another 15+ years before it’s fully built out. So, buying solely because of the project might not be in your best interest unless you’re in it for the long haul.
But that’s not to say there aren’t some great real estate opportunities in the area—especially given the BeltLine’s Westside Trail expansion, expected this fall.
We look forward to watching what happens! Want to watch along with us? Request your home valuation and get access to a personalized dashboard where you can stay up-to-date with the market in your neighborhood.