For the past three years, the only noticeable changes to the large, vacant parcel between Piedmont and Peachtree roads have been the rusting of chain-link fences.
Developer Isakson Living demolished the Peachtree Hills Apartments in 2008 to make room on the 23-acre parcel for a continuing-care retirement community of midrise and single family homes. Falling home prices and tight credit, though, stopped progress on the project before construction was ever started.
“I believe it’s a great project,” Andy Isakson, managing partner of Isakson Living, said of the retirement community. “It was accepted well by the market [in 2008]. It’s just a case of bad timing.”
Despite the years of delay, Isakson said plans for the development remain unchanged.
“I’ll probably have more to tell you in about 30 days,” he said.
Isakson would not comment on what progress he hopes to report in a month’s time. He said Isakson Living has continued to seek financing for the project since 2008, when crises in the financial and housing sectors forced the company to postpone breaking ground on the development indefinitely.
Isakson said plans to build on the site in 2008 were halted largely because of the financial troubles of Colonial Bank, which failed later that year.
BB&T, which purchased Colonial, filed a lawsuit against Isakson Living in 2011, alleging that the developer had failed to repay $30.5 million in loans and interest from the incomplete project. Isakson said the pending suit has no impact on the developer’s attempts to reignite progress on Peachtree Hills Place.
Although housing prices in Atlanta have been rising since the spring of 2012, Isakson said that securing financing for a continuing retirement community is generally more complicated than it would be for a typical real estate development.
“As a niche business, it’s providing services as well as housing,” said Isakson. “It’s always different than a regular real estate deal.”
If financing for the project can again be secured, Isakson Living would likely need to again pre-sell more than half of its units before construction on the project could begin, company officials said.
The number would depend on the agreement between Isakson Living and a financing partner. However, Isakson said a project like this generally pre-sells 60 percent to 70 percent of its units prior to construction.
In 2008, 150 of 275 planned units had been sold before the project was put on hold.
All of the buyers, said Isakson, received full refunds, but many remain interested in purchasing units at Peachtree Hills Place once the project gets moving again.
In addition to keeping in touch with the development’s former and possibly future buyers, Peachtree Hills Civic Association President Hans Bendeck said he feels Isakson Living has done a good job of keeping the association up to date on their efforts.
“Obviously, the neighborhood would like to see something get done,” Bendeck said of the huge fenced lot. “But I feel like the Isaksons have been pretty straightforward and forthcoming with the civic association.”