Atlanta-based developer Portman Holdings revealed details of its future Amsterdam Walk project this week, including hundreds of new apartments, retail space and future offices.
The 9-acre project, slated for 2028, is in its early design phases, but it’s poised to become a defining mixed-use destination along the Beltline and Piedmont Park. Because of its scope, the development has to go through a regional infrastructure and traffic analysis before proceeding.
Mike Greene, Portman’s vice president of development, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his firm is taking a patient approach with Amsterdam Walk, deeming it a “darn unique spot” for new housing, office and shops. First announced in April, the project is a partnership between Portman and Halpern Enterprises.
Here’s what we know so far about Amsterdam Walk’s redevelopment:
Portman’s plan centers around razing the existing shopping center, which mostly consists of adapted warehouses, to make way for new construction and connections to the Beltline.
On Friday, a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) filing was made public — a required step for large projects set to impact multiple jurisdictions. The Atlanta Regional Commission will review the submission and issue infrastructure recommendations once Portman formally requests rezoning, which Greene said will likely happen in October. The current zoning allows for more than 1 million square feet of commercial space but no residential uses.
Portman seeks up to 400,000 square feet of offices, 90,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 900 apartments. Greene said Portman will likely stick with that apartment number, but he said the firm overestimated office and retail space for the sake of the DRI’s traffic study.
“Commercial square footage generates more traffic in a traffic study than residential square footage, roughly three times more,” he said. “… So this is basically a worst-case scenario.”
Greene said the final plan will likely be closer to 300,000 square feet of offices and less than 70,000 square feet of retail.
Affordable housing and retail
Greene said the development team aims to deliver more affordable housing units than code requires, and the partners are in negotiations with the Beltline and Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm.
“They want to try to get the highest percentage of affordable housing possible in the deal,” Greene said.
Greene expects to reserve roughly a fifth of new apartment units at Amsterdam Walk for residents making 80% of the area median income, which is $57,200 for an individual. That’s a third more than Beltline requirements.
ExploreBeltline envisions dense, mixed-income development for 31-acre site
The developers also anticipate incorporating affordable commercial spaces for retailers. Offering shop owners reduced rates has become a mission of Beltline officials in response to explosive growth along the trail’s most popular segments.
Amsterdam Walk is divided between the Morningside-Lenox Park and Virginia-Highland neighborhoods.
Neighborhood groups told the AJC that residents’ top concerns have been whether a new Amsterdam Walk will clog already congested Monroe Drive. Don Campbell, president of the Morningside-Lenox Park Association, said they’ve been shown copious amounts of traffic data that Portman collected during the spring before school let out.
“People always make the assumption that a development of this type will absolutely increase traffic in the area,” Campbell said. “… But in many cases, that is not true because the idea of making it a walkable, bikable, pedestrian-friendly area sometimes decreases traffic because parking is not the main focus of the project.”
Kimley-Horn was hired to analyze that data as part of the DRI review, and Greene said they’ll analyze 11 different intersections near the project site.
Future feedback meetings are expected as new project details are determined. Greene said he expects to release preliminary site plans for public review later this month. Leah Matthews, president of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, said public feedback is encouraged, adding she has “full faith” that neighbors will be kept in the loop.
Portman made headlines last month by scaling back its development plan for a large project along Ponce de Leon Avenue near Ponce City Market due to a weak lending market for new office projects.
ExploreFinancing issues prompt Portman to pare back Ponce development plans
Greene said Amsterdam Walk will take at least two years to break ground, so he anticipates the demand for new offices to bounce back.
“If the economic picture hasn’t cleared up in two years, you and I have bigger problems than trying to figure out how to get Amsterdam out of the ground,” Greene said.
Greene said the first phase of the project will likely focus on the residential, retail and public aspects of the project, including plazas and courtyards, which he said are the crux of a successful mixed-use district.
“You have got to get to a critical mass that creates a place,” he said.