A few days before Christmas, dynamite-triggered geysers of dirt in the heart of Midtown signaled what was called the start of construction on Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper in ages. In reality, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Above-ground construction of the planned 53-story No.2 Opus Place (the name nods to its arts-district setting on 14th Street, not far from the Woodruff Arts Center) won’t begin for a while. But officials with New York-based Olympia Heights Management, the condo project’s developer, still expect to see it finished by 2020, offering what they call Atlanta’s most alluring amenities package—with prices to match.
At 688 feet, the Perkins + Will-designed building would be Atlanta’s tallest residential tower and the highest structure built in the city since 1992. About 20 percent of its 189 condos have “sold”—under contract, that is, with earnest money down.
Designers are in the process of actually shrinking some floor plans to allow for more condos in the millennial-friendly, 800-square-foot range, with entry prices (roughly mid-$500,000s) lower than initially projected. At the other end of the spectrum will be four two-story penthouses with about 5,000 square feet (two of them with rooftop access to private decks). Those will set you back a staggering $12 million or more.
Planned amenities at No.2 Opus Place read like a vertical, urban utopia. On the ninth floor, expect an infinity-edge lap pool overlooking 14th Street, plus a second “relaxation pool” on the tower’s opposite side with three fire pits, small dog park, outdoor kitchen, indoor-outdoor yoga room, and spa. A second amenities level on the 41st floor (nicknamed “Mozart’s 41st”) would have two suites for guests, a library, demonstration kitchen, private dining room, two or three golf simulators, and, oh, a 20-seat IMAX theater. That’s in addition to a 24-hour valet, concierge, and onsite “wellness coordinator.”
We checked in with Kristi Lynch, director of development for Berkshire Hathaway’s City Haus division, to see where the project she’s helping to lead stands now.
No.2 Opus Place had a literally explosive groundbreaking in December. Are permits and financing in place? Is this thing ready to go?
They’re really breaking it up into phases. There is a lot of granite at the site. It’s a pretty extensive process. It could be another six months before all that stone is exploded and carted away. And then hopefully, in six to nine months, we’ll be in position to start pouring the foundation. The goal is to select [a general contractor] the first quarter of this year. They have a shortlist. Hopefully we’ll see it going vertical this year.
How would you describe interest in the project so far?
It’s been great. There haven’t been a lot of for-sale products built in Midtown, so what we’re seeing is a lot of buyers living in condo projects from the early and mid-2000s who are ready for something shiny and new. We had some people in [the sales gallery] from out of town, and I said, “Just walk down and have a look at Piedmont Park.” They were blown away. We’re excited to be right in the middle of it.
The building was reduced by 20 stories after a hotel deal didn’t materialize?
Correct. It was going to be close to 70 stories, but as a whole everybody thought, “Let’s just pull the hotel component out and make it all residential.” That reduces the homeowner’s association fees. There are also lending restrictions on residential towers with hotel components. There were just a lot of hurdles to overcome.
A $12 million penthouse condo is a price point beyond anything Midtown—and possibly Atlanta—has seen before. Who are you marketing these to?
Right now, we haven’t done a huge campaign marketing the penthouses. Once we get further along in the construction process, and people see the building going vertical, the market will realize this is for real, that it’s going to happen. We’re not yet listing them in the realtor system, but if someone is really interested, we’ll talk. We don’t even have floorplans for the spaces yet.
The smaller units you’ve had sales success with—are these buyers millennials, empty-nesters, or international? Or all of the above?
All of the above. We’ve had doctors who live in the Midtown area who want a new condo in the next two or three years. We’ve got a couple of investor buyers. A couple of empty-nesters from Ansley Park who frequent the High Museum and the symphony and still want to walk there; they’re selling their houses, downsizing. And I’ve got a couple of international investors whose child is going to go to [college], and they want a smaller home for their child to live in.
[Laughs] Yeah—I wish my parents did that for me!