Packages, Food Delivery Causing Headaches For Builders In Booming Atlanta Student Housing Market

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An apartment developer who recently jumped into the student housing realm is grappling with a complication: Figuring out how to handle hundreds of smiling brown boxes.

South City Partners Vice President Will Casaday said his firm’s $90M, 685-bed student housing tower, 120 Piedmont, needed to find ways to handle a mass of Amazon delivery packages as well as deliveries of chicken fingers and other meals from Uber Eats or Grubhub.

“When you’re ordering Uber Eats 17 times a week, the ability for that [delivery] guy to get up to the 25th floor is critical,” Casaday said.

The growth of the online shopping world has taken commercial real estate by storm in the 21st century, but Amazon is having an outsize effect on student housing.

Unlike a typical apartment complex, which may receive some 100 Amazon and other e-commerce packages a day, a student housing tower can see upward of 300, Casaday said. South City had to take into consideration how to handle that many deliveries at 120 Piedmont, which is slated to open this summer.

At the project, South City is incorporating a digital guest pass system that will allow visitors to use their smartphones to open the outside door, get through security and even allow the elevator to rise to their specific delivery floor.

Casaday was part of a lineup of Atlanta commercial development pros at Bisnow’s Atlanta Construction and Development event Wednesday morning at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead, where conversations ranged from development design to the troubles of mounting construction costs, last-mile delivery and affordable housing.

South City is among a host of developers building new student housing complexes in Atlanta as schools like Georgia State University and Savannah College of Art and Design go after more students on campus rather than commuters.

Atlanta-based Landmark Properties is underway with The Standard at Midtown, a $110M student housing tower geared toward students at Georgia Tech.

But delivery is only one complication 120 Piedmont is planning for. Casaday said RaceTrac Petroleum is planning to operate a service station on the project since gas station uses were grandfathered into the property when the developer purchased it.

“The university has created a lot of momentum in Downtown," Casaday said. "We are drafting off a lot of that."

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