By John Schaffner

Cousins Properties Incorporated has begun construction of 10 Terminus Place, a 32-story, 142-unit condominium tower that is the second building of the company’s planned 10-acre, $660 million mixed-use project at the commercial crossroads of Peachtree and Piedmont roads in Buckhead.

Homes at 10 Terminus Place, which is slated for completion during the third quarter of 2008, start at more than $300,000 and go above $3 million. The average price of 142 condos will be between $600,000 and $800,000.

Cousins also plans to break ground this month on Terminus 200, a 25-story, 580,000-square-foot office building, which is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2009. The new office tower will front Piedmont and will have stores and restaurants on the first floor.

The first building at Terminus is the 27-story, 650,000-square-foot Terminus 100, which includes 584,000 square feet of office space and more than 60,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. Terminus 100 opened in early April.

The 10 Terminus Place condo tower is being built atop a 13-story parking garage. The top of the parking garage will house the amenity terrace, with a pool, dog walk and yoga garden.

Future phases of the Terminus project include two additional planned 40-story condominium buildings.

Cousins decided to move ahead with construction of Terminus 200 as a speculative building (with no signed tenants). Terminus 100 was begun with 25 percent of the building pre-leased.

“Buckhead has more than its share of customers for ultra-luxury residential buildings but we are seeing another set of customers that are focused on a combination of luxury and value,” said Tom Bell, chairman and CEO of Cousins. “A building like 10 Terminus Place fits that niche perfectly.

“In addition, this sort of practical experience developing high-rise residential as part of an urban mixed-use project provides a great foundation to act upon the growing number of mixed-use opportunities we’re seeing across our Sunbelt markets,” Bell added.

Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Incorporated has extensive experience in office, multi-family, retail, industrial and land development projects. The company’s portfolio consists of interests in 7.2 million square feet of office space, 4.2 million square feet of retail space, 2.0 million square feet of industrial space, a 529 unit for-sale multi-family project under development, 24 residential communities under development, over 9,000 acres of strategically located land tracts, and significant land holdings for development of single-family residential communities.

The Company also provides leasing and management services to third-party investors.

Buckhead land costs

$13 million per acre

Some of the best parcels of Buckhead land—as in just dirt—are breaking price records for Atlanta and selling for $300 per square foot or about $13 million per acre, according to data from Spectrum Cauble Inc. and DataBank Inc.

Land prices in Buckhead have reportedly increased between threefold and fivefold in the past five years.

For instance, in January 2004, Pope & Land Enterprises Inc. paid about $18.9 million for 12.53 acres (almost $35 per square foot) for the land where Cousins Properties is building is mixed-use Terminus development at Peachtree and Piedmont roads. A year later in March of 2005, Cousins paid $28 million for 9.36 acres of the same land, or nearly $69 per square foot.

In February of this year, Ben Carter Properties reportedly paid about $400 per square foot for several of the parcels put together for the firm’s planned $800 million Buckhead Avenues redevelopment of the old Buckhead Village.

The primary drivers for this price surge are listed as a strong local economy—with demand for more office, retail and residential building—a return to urban living and an increasing scarcity of prime land.

Land prices impact the shape of development and also drive rents. The more density developers can build on a piece of land the easier it is for them to pay for it. That densification leads to taller buildings.

But, although Atlanta land prices are rising, they are considered a relative bargain compared with major metropolitan markets such as New York.