News Article | 10/21/2014

Ridgeline and Hillwood partner on more than 1-million square foot Braselton project

Ridgeline Property Group and Hillwood Investment Properties will partner on more than 1-million-square-foot project in Braselton, as more developers begin to loosen the reins for new speculative warehouses.

Ridgeline and Hillwood will jointly develop the nearly 1.1-million-square-foot spec building on 114 acres along Highway 124 near Interstate 85.

The developers say the project — Braselton Commerce Center — will offer the largest block of class A distribution space in the Southeast. The building is scheduled to break ground Nov. 1.

The project comes as U.S. demand for goods and services picks up, a trend that should continue to spur new warehouse and ecommerce center construction, analysts say.

Several retailers, including Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) and Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) are looking for land across the metro Atlanta region to develop new projects. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and developer Majestic Realty Co. also just announced a massive ecommerce center near the Atlanta airport.

Atlanta, a transportation hub closely tied to U.S. demand, should continue to see construction in its industrial sector pick up, Richard Barkham, CBRE Inc. global chief economist, said Tuesday. Barkham was speaking at the real estate services giant’s market forecast.

Ridgeline Property Group principals, including president Mike Gray, echoed that sentiment, saying market fundamentals have improved significantly. Consider rents for new warehouse projects could push $3.25 a foot — higher than pre-recession levels, according to market data.

“We are very bullish on Atlanta,” said Mike Gray, president of Ridgeline Property Group.

Gray is best known in Atlanta for his work with Panattoni Development Co. Last year, Gray and fellow Panattoni principal Greg Thurman left the developer to form Ridgeline Property Group.

Since then Ridgeline Property has opened offices in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Washington D.C. It plans to expand into Chicago and Dallas next year.

Ridgeline Property plans to have 4 million square feet of new development under construction this year, a mix of speculative and build-to-suit projects.

Hillwood Investment began expanding its portfolio in metro Atlanta three years ago on the heels of the recession. It now has about 1.5-million square feet of planned and existing buildings across the region.

In Braselton, Ridgeline Property and Hillwood named Colliers International Atlanta to market the new warehouse and distribution center for lease.