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Spiking construction costs are driving Atlanta developers to the suburbs

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With job counts on the rise, Gwinnett County is seeing an influx of major multifamily developments

A rendering of the huge mixed-use development planned for Duluth in Gwinnett County.
Revel, a $900 million entertainment-centric mixed-use development, is currently in its marketing phase.
Rendering courtesy of North American Properties

As the cost of land and construction continues to rise in metro Atlanta and beyond, developers of multifamily dwellings are heading for the hills—er, suburbs.

That’s the takeaway from a Bisnow Atlanta summit that recently invited a handful of developers to discuss the growth of Gwinnett County in particular.

Brand Properties CEO Brand Morgan told the publication that, although some 9,000 apartment units are currently being developed in Atlanta proper, the steep costs of city land and local construction are straining the creation of new rentals.

When people see Atlanta-based Novare Group operating OTP in places like Lawrenceville, Morgan said, it’s clear that some multifamily developers are cutting their losses and trying new, easier markets.

To put Novare Group’s suburban interest in context, Morgan told Bisnow he calls the company’s CEO Jim Borders “the high-rise king.” Not exactly a nickname you earn outside a major city.

Novare Group, recognized for building apartment and condo towers in Atlanta, Denver, Orlando, and Dallas, is currently redeveloping a section of downtown Lawrenceville into a $200 million mixed-use complex. The developer has already started building some 600 new apartments on the site.

Meanwhile, Brand Properties, the brains behind the Northside Hospital Midtown medical office project, is working on its own 600 units at two Peachtree Corners locations, just outside the Interstate 285 Perimeter in western Gwinnett County.

Gwinnett has seen a major development influx recently, in part because the county’s sheer number of jobs—almost 360,000—has grown almost 3 percent since last year.

Elsewhere in Gwinnett, developer North American Properties is working on a $900 million entertainment-centric mixed-use project called Revel, which promises more than 800 multifamily residences.

Myriad other projects are changing the faces of Gwinnett and other metro Atlanta suburbs. But how long until they start looking like cities and see the cost of land and construction skyrocket there, too?