Atlantic Station’s retail core could be on block

Credit: AJC file

Credit: AJC file

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The retail core of Atlantic Station could soon be for sale, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Development firm North American Properties and CBRE Global Investors, which acquired much of the Midtown mixed-use complex during the aftershock of the recession, have made inquiries to brokers about listing the retail town center following a successful turnaround effort, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

The office tower at 201 17th Street might also be listed separately, one of the people said, but the retail space occupied by Dillard’s, Target and IKEA are not controlled by the real estate companies and are not part of the discussions.

Atlantic Station is one of metro Atlanta’s most-watched projects, and movement to sell it would be another sign of the region’s strengthening real estate market. It also suggests the owners believe there are suitors willing to pay a premium for the revived retail destination.

North American said in a statement that it has “no concrete plans” at this time.

“We’re not surprised people are speculating that North American Properties would consider selling Atlantic Station,” the statement said. “The successful turnaround of Midtown’s premier retail-and-entertainment district is bound to attract the interest of owners and investors in this hot investment sales market.”

North American and CBRE Global Investors acquired key portions of Atlantic Station in a bidding war for $173 million in late 2010, during some of the darkest days in Atlanta real estate.

The complex’s developer, Jacoby Development, transformed a polluted industrial site and eyesore into one of the nation’s most ambitious brownfield redevelopment projects. But Jacoby’s financial backer in the venture, AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp., was forced to sell its holdings after the financial crisis hit.

The North American team, led by Mark Toro, tinkered with the tenant mix around stalwarts such as Publix, Dillard’s and Target. The group brought in chef-driven restaurants and restaurant and retail chains that can’t be found on every corner. They also launched a prominent social media operation to woo residents and shoppers.

The upswing in the economy also played a major role. The retail space is almost completely filled, and the surrounding office towers are also filling up with big names like Worldpay US and streaming music company Pandora.