Trisha Ring
Trisha Ring

When Trisha Ring was an undergraduate at the University of Kansas two decades ago, she took a part-time job leasing apartments to students and professors. That turned into a career that’s taken her to jobs across the country.

Now she works in Dunwoody, in the heart of the Perimeter business district, as project manager for JRK Residential, which recently purchased the 709-unit Wellesley at the Perimeter luxury apartment and townhome complex.

Wellesley, located at 350 Perimeter Center North, is undergoing a $15 million renovation, she said, that will add granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a new theater room, two new fitness centers, a meditation room and a cobblestone street lined by gas streetlights. Once renovation is done, she said, the complex will be renamed The London.

Michael Blair, managing director for development for Pollack Shores Real Estate Group, stands at a shopping center the company will replace with a luxury apartment complex. The complex is one of two planned at Hammond Drive and Peachtree Dunwoody Road in Sandy Springs.

“It’s all about the ‘wow factor,’” she said. “It’s going to be unlike anything in the Perimeter.”

Luxury apartments have to work for attention if they want to stand out these days in the Perimeter, which experts rate as metro Atlanta’s third most desirable area for apartments, after Buckhead and Midtown.

“The Perimeter market has evolved into one of the premier live/work markets in the entire southeastern United States,” said George Reid, who produces The Reid Report, a study of the metro area’s apartment market and who lives in Sandy Springs.

Only 359 new units were built in the Perimeter area last year, Reid said. But work began in January 2013 on two new complexes on Hammond Drive that are to contain a total of more than 690 units. Construction of other luxury apartments is under way in Brookhaven, and more units are expected in Sandy Springs by the end of the year.

Hundreds of high-end apartments already have been built in the area. Their names are chosen to demonstrate their sophistication – names such as the Windsor or the Goodwynn in Brookhaven; The Heights, The Drexel and others in Dunwoody; The Stratford or Alta Glenridge Springs and others in Sandy Springs.

“In the past 12 years, Perimeter has developed from a heavily-congested, primarily off

The Axis Apartments stand among luxury complexes in Dunwoody.

ice, hotel and shopping district into a vibrant, livable mixed-use community with improvements in traffic flow, air quality, economic development and quality of life,” said Yvonne Williams, president and CEO of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts.

Ron Cameron, senior vice president in the investment services group at Colliers International, called the Perimeter “an area that is very vibrant, that has a lot going on and is very sought-after by institutional investors.”

“One of the appeals to that market for a lot of renters and homeowners is you feel like you’re in the city and [still] you can get anywhere you need to,” said Cameron, who has lived in both Sandy Springs and Dunwoody. “There’s certainly a lot of interest in it, for sure.”

Cameron predicts that more apartment projects will be developed in the area. “I see development continuing through the year, but I think it’s going to be very, very selective,” he said. “Not the number of units you had in the go-go years.”

Some elected officials, especially in the city of Dunwoody, complain that too many apartments have been allowed in the area in the past, and that long-time residents have been forced to watch as older apartments have declined in value and hurt the community.

The Drexel Apartments in Dunwoody.

But Reid argues that kind of decline is unlikely in the future because many of the apartments now being built are designed for young singles or couples and won’t attract large families. “All the stuff being built now is smaller,” he said. “Just by design, you are not going see as many families moving into the properties being built now.”

And the Perimeter area remains a strong draw for renters and developers because of its proximity to three MARTA train stations, I-285 and Ga. 400, and due to the community’s urban feel, developers say. Apartments in the Perimeter market command rentals of more than $1,000 a month and can reach $2,000 or more a month, according to listings.

“The trend in the market now is, you’ll hear the term ‘core community,’” said Michael Blair, managing director for development for Pollack Shores Real Estate Group. “For us, it means [Perimeter offers] for our residents’ experience a good core location, with good proximity to retail uses, transit, the live-work-play experience right at their doorstep.”

Pollack Shores, which is based in Sandy Springs, in January started work on a new apartment complex that will add 341 luxury apartments at Hammond Drive and Peachtree Dunwoody Road in Sandy Springs.

A rendering of apartments Pollack Shores plans to build in Sandy Springs.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, with completion scheduled for 2014, Blair said. The project will create more than 300 construction jobs, he said. “When it’s completed, it’ll be contributing over $600,000 in taxes to the community,” he said.

The apartments will be part of a mixed-use development and will replace parts of the existing Hammond Center development on the south side of Hammond Drive. When complete, the new apartment complex will offer a lawn where residents can socialize, a wellness and fitness center, a yoga area and a dog spa, Blair said.

North Carolina-based apartment developer Northwood Ravin is building another new luxury apartment complex on the north side of Hammond, according to the company’s website.

The project, called Perimeter Town Center, is part of a larger, mixed-use development and will stand right across the street from Pollack Shores’ project. Northwood Ravin says its apartments will feature 10-foot ceilings, tiled backsplashes, a private central courtyard, a saltwater pool, a fitness center and, of course, a pet grooming center.

One recent afternoon, Blair stopped by the 4.5 acres on Hammond Drive where Pollack Shores has begun work to replace a small strip shopping center with a taller building filled with new, luxury rental homes. “Why here?” he said. “This location has everything you want from a multi-family residential perspective.”

Restaurants, a grocery, a drug store operate nearby. And the developer’s offices, Blair pointed out, are nearby, too.

“This, for us, is right in our backyard,” Blair said. “It’s a very home-grown, in-our-backyard development. We’re going to be proud of it for a long, long time.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.