Georgia Tech Foundation to buy Midtown’s landmark Biltmore

The Georgia Tech Foundation said Monday it has a deal in place to buy Atlanta’s historic Biltmore building on West Peachtree Street in Midtown.

The 12-story brick building, which opened in 1924 as one of the city’s premiere hotels, was reborn nearly 20 years ago as an events space and loft offices. It will now be part of the research hub known as Technology Square, just east of the Downtown Connector.

It’s unclear what, if any, immediate effect the sale will have on current tenants or the event space.

The complex is home to engineering companies and tech startups, such as Kimley-Horn and Associates and tech security outfit Pindrop. The building will retain its historic status, the release said.

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson called the brick complex “the historic anchor in Midtown Atlanta.”

“When you cross the Fifth Street bridge connecting our main campus with Tech Square, it is the first thing you see,” Peterson said in the release.

Peterson said the Biltmore and the state’s support of the Advanced Technology Development Center “positions Georgia Tech to further expand the number of companies we serve.”

Tech Square has become a hive for hot startups and major corporations looking to tap into Georgia Tech faculty, students and research capabilities. NCR is putting its headquarters nearby, and companies such as Panasonic, AT&T, Home Depot and Southern Company have established innovation labs in the immediate area.

Noted Atlanta developer Portman is expected to soon break ground on a second phase of Tech Square, a 25-story office tower called Coda, which will offer office space and research labs for the school and private sector firms.

Gary T. Jones, the foundation’s chairman, said the Biltmore “is already a vibrant component” of the Tech Square community and the deal “simply strengthens what is one of the country’s most energetic technology ecosystems … .”

A purchase price for the Biltmore was not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in coming months.

Officials for Georgia Tech and development firm Novare Group, which owns the Biltmore, declined further comment until a deal is closed.

William Candler, son of Coca-Cola Company founder Asa Candler, helped finance the hotel, which was part of a chain of Biltmore Hotels, according to the National Park Service. WSB radio once had its transmitter atop the hotel. The Biltmore was a hub of Atlanta civic life, but fell into disrepair and neglect.

Atlanta-based Novare acquired it in 1998 and restored it to its current state. The nearly 290,000-square-foot space is about fully leased.

It’s a good time to sell. Midtown rents are rising as available office space has dwindled. A report from JLL said first quarter office space vacancy in Midtown stood at 17.2 percent in the first quarter, and 13.9 percent for Class A or top-tier space.

The residences on the site are not part of the transaction, the release said.

Kevin Green, president and CEO of the Midtown Alliance called the purchase “another great move” by the foundation to control a key property and provide flexibility at Tech Square.

“Companies and talent want to be here, but in the immediate area of Tech Square there is a shortage of room for corporate innovation centers to locate, and for start-ups to grow and scale,” he said. “Centergy and the Biltmore are full.”