Season’s Greetings to all our clients and friends!

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Thank you for making 2018, our 18th year in business, the most rewarding yet.
 
Reflecting on the past year in real estate and economic development and the trends that shaped our work, the first word that comes to mind is WOW!
 
Not only did the quality growth trends in our Atlanta region continue on an upward trajectory, the trends accelerated, confirming that our region continues to serve as a shining light in the nation, out front in attracting innovative jobs, seeking cutting-edge answers in the transportation field, and pushing real estate and economic development boundaries. 

The progress is real and sustained but many challenges lie ahead. Creative solutions still elude us on many fronts.  Among the most important are addressing the transportation and housing affordability issues that come hand-in-hand with being one of the country’s fastest growing regions. 
 
We had the privilege of working on some truly gratifying projects over the past year on these fronts. Notably, ULI Atlanta engaged us to identify the issues and possible solutions regarding equitable housing in the region. We are very pleased that this work informed the HouseATL taskforce that will, no doubt, continue to be the city’s most effective initiative addressing housing affordability.
 
Our work in the housing field expanded in 2018. We completed a county-wide housing study that examined the issues of a stagnant housing market in the Greater Dalton, GA area. Other assignments for public sector clients took us to various corners of Georgia in 2018: Forsyth County, Milledgeville, Troup County/LaGrange, and Newnan, to name just a few. We currently are part of a team working with the City of Asheville, NC to find innovative ways to increase attainable housing on publicly-owned properties. We see that our input is contributing to more equitable access to housing throughout the Southeast and we are glad to have the opportunity to do so.
 
At the same time, we have helped a variety of private sector residential developers understand the supply and demand conditions and their implications that are relevant to their potential developments.
 
Speaking of the public and private sectors, we continued our work this year in helping Georgia communities use their economic development toolkits to attract quality development through public private partnerships. For example, we recently helped create the first Tax Allocation District authorized by Bartow County, GA. We also provided implementation and public financing services for municipalities across the state. Our work in this area for the team redeveloping Fort MacPherson has helped to move that very important project in Southwest Atlanta closer to realization. 
 
In search of innovative transportation answers, we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on a team of seasoned professionals on the DeKalb County Transit Master Plan that is in the works. Stay tuned in 2019 for exciting recommendations on that front.
 
We continue to help smaller cities rediscover the value of their historic downtowns and leverage them as catalysts for economic growth. We worked with cities statewide to transform downtowns and commercial corridors into more walkable mixed-use places that are in high demand. In addition to work in Atlanta-area cities such as Duluth, Woodstock, Tucker, and others, we found great opportunities for downtown development in Evans, just outside of Augusta.
 
We helped several Atlanta-area Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), and their leaderships, chart their path forward to improve the built environment for their constituents.
 
Finally, the year was full of positive changes to our staff. Most importantly, firm founder Ken Bleakly, and his stalwart wife Barb, decided it was time to make the move to the beach. They now call St. Simons, GA home as Ken continues to service many clients along the Georgia coast. The rest of us here at Bleakly Advisory Group headquarters in Midtown Atlanta still look to Ken for wisdom and guidance as we work with the rest of our wonderful clients and colleagues.
 
As the Atlanta region, and the Southeast, continue to grow we hope you have a wonderful rest of 2018 and we look forward to working with you in the new year.
 
 
Geoff Koski
President
Bleakly Advisory Group, Inc.
www.blagroup.com 

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Jonathan Gelber, as Part of ULI Technical Assistance Panel, to Address the Future of Savannah's Civic Center

I am heading to Savannah, GA next week as a member of the Urban Land Institute's technical assistance panel to assess redevelopment opportunities for the Civic Center site. The City of Savannah proposed redevelopment of the site to better meet the needs of the city and surrounding communities.

Savannah’s Civic Center under construction. Source: Savannah Morning News.

Savannah’s Civic Center under construction. Source: Savannah Morning News.

The major priorities of any proposals for the Civic Center are to respect Savannah's historic district and adhere to the Oglethorpe Plan as closely as possible, while reconnecting neighborhoods and determining the best mix of uses on the site. The City shared a survey asking Savannah residents to rank what characteristics for redevelopment of the site they value most: green space, arts and culture, community diversity, preserving historic character, and promoting employment opportunities and economic development.

Ogleshorpe’s Savannah Plan is the one of the most iconic things in the field of planning. It is our Mona Lisa. It is featured on the first day of any Urban Planning class and on the first page of any Urban Planning book. As a planner, I am honored to be entrusted to participate in such an important discussion.

Bleakly Advisory Helps Client Secure Zoning for 320-unit Apartment Community in Newnan

The Newnan Times-Herald reports that Bleakly client, Continental Properties, has the green light to build 320 market-rate apartments in the fast-growing town of Newnan, which is in the southern portion of the Atlanta region.

In the news report Continental development director Gwyn Wheeler said the company was attracted to Newnan because it’s the fifth fastest growing community in Georgia—data she gathered from a recent Bleakly market study for the property.

Bleakly’s apartment market study for Continental analyzed the supply and demand conditions for the local Coweta County market area and made recommendations regarding achievable rent levels and potential lease-up pace.

Continental has since hired Bleakly Advisory Group to conduct similar analyses for other locations in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

For information on how Bleakly Advisory Group can help analyze housing development related questions email or call Geoff Koski, president of the firm.

Read the Times-Herald report here: http://times-herald.com/news/2018/08/city-council-approves-320-unit-apartment-community

In Dunwoody, Development a No-Go

Gary Mongeon, Senior Vice President at Bleakly Advisory Group, addressing the audience on August 23rd, 2018. Source: Reporter Newspapers.

Gary Mongeon, Senior Vice President at Bleakly Advisory Group, addressing the audience on August 23rd, 2018. Source: Reporter Newspapers.

Gary Mongeon, Senior Vice President, delivered a presentation last month to City of Dunwoody officials and residents on the feasibility of proposed redevelopment along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The conclusion, Mongeon said, was that redevelopment without formation of a public/private partnership with $10 to $20 million invested, which City Councilmember Jim Riticher believes the Council is unlikely to do, is infeasible and unlikely. Bleakly Advisory's market research supported this conclusion. Per Reporter Newspapers;

Gary Mongeon with Bleakly Advisory Group said at an Aug. 23 meeting on the PIB Study that the market study conducted by his group shows the land in the study area is valued at approximately $1.1 million per acre and that it would take more than $200 million to simply assemble the apartment complexes included in the area.

Within the Study area, there are 2,023 apartments across 188 acres, an average of 11 units per acre. While these apartments are predominantly blue collar, collectively they still generate an estimated annual income of $26.2 million, according to the Bleakly Advisory study. City Councilmember Tom Lambert said that "Now that we know redevelopment probably won't happen, we are turning our focus on other improvements, such as trails, better lighting, and better infrastructure in the area."

New Doctor Who? Congratulations to Dr. Sara Patenaude, PhD!

It is my great pleasure to congratulate Dr. Sara Patenaude on obtaining her PhD in History from Georgia State University! In addition to her involvement as a member of the Bleakly team since August 2017, Sara has simultaneously worked tirelessly in her studies of urban history, public policy, and city planning. Her dissertation, "The False Promise of Individual Choice: Residential Segregation and Policy Discourse in Baltimore Public Housing, 1940-1970," examines the ways a policy emphasis on individual choice prevented the meaningful desegregation of Baltimore's public housing and investigates the interplay between federal policy makers and local elected leaders and civil servants at the intersections of politics, public policy, and city planning.

Sara has become an integral component of Bleakly Advisory and the expertise she brings to the Group adds another level of analysis to our capabilities. We are lucky and proud to have her on the team. Congrats, Sara!

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Sara Patenaude on BeltLine, Economic Impacts, and Equity at APA 2018

Sara with her fellow presenters at APA in New Orleans, April 2018.

Sara with her fellow presenters at APA in New Orleans, April 2018.

In April, Bleakly Advisory Consultant Sara Patenaude presented to a standing-room-only crowd at the 2018 American Planning Association National Conference. As part of the panel “Harnessing Gentrification’s Momentum towards Social Impact,” Sara presented on the opportunities and challenges resulting from the Atlanta BeltLine’s impact on nearby commercial and residential real estate. The BeltLine, which has proved a catalyst for approximately $500 million in public/private investment and $4.1 billion in private development has also sparked an intown resurgence and resulting rapid increase in home values and prices.

While private development nearby the Atlanta BeltLine has boomed, intentions for affordable housing development have thus far largely fallen short. Sara discussed the potential that other cities have to use publicly-financed amenities open to the public to revitalize neighborhoods, and lessons to be learned from the Atlanta experience to develop affordable housing to make sure such amenities remain accessible to all.

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Geoff Koski, Bleakly Advisory Group On Atlanta's Affordability Crisis

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Last month, Bleakly Advisory President Geoff Koski presented on the challenges of housing affordability in the Atlanta region at the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum. Based on research Bleakly Advisory Group conducted on behalf of the Urban Land Institute, Geoff laid out three major factors that led to the current housing crisis.

1) Job growth in the Atlanta region outpaced housing growth by more than 3:1 annually during the past three years. Beginning in 2014, the Atlanta region began adding significantly more jobs than housing units, 75,000 jobs compared to 20,000 housing units on average annually. "One of our competitive advantages, as a region, was its affordability... That's why Atlanta was able to win," Geoff said. "But we risk losing all of that," if the region loses affordable housing where people want to live.

2) The little housing stock that has been built in recent years, particularly multi-family housing, has almost entirely consisted of luxury housing, out of the range of what most living in the region consider affordable. "The lack of supply and growing demand... Prices go up, it's just that simple," Geoff stated. Bleakly Advisory figured this by looking at the costs needed for a household earning 80% of the average median household income (AMI) that spend more than 30% of household income on housing costs/rent.

One of our competitive advantages, as a region, was its affordability, but we risk losing all of that.

3) Restrictive regulations and zoning across the region limit the types and quantities of housing units developers can build, driving the housing shortage. "We have restrictive zoning and development policies that make it difficult to develop in the City of Atlanta and elsewhere," Geoff explained. "We don't have the right development policies. They are hurting us." This limit increases housing costs, sending middle- and lower-income households to the margins of the region to find affordable housing. Geoff calls this the "drive till you qualify" dilemma for residents; people will find affordable housing on the outskirts of the region only to have housing savings offset by driving costs and time.

The Atlanta Regional Housing Forum that Geoff spoke at on June 6th was covered by multiple articles on the Saporta Report by Max Blau and David Pendered. To read Geoff's full presentation, click here.