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Emma Capital Announces the Purchase of Centre at Peachtree Corners, 272 units

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Emma Capital Investment Inc. (“Emma Capital”) is pleased to announce the acquisition of Centre at Peachtree Corners, a 272-Unit Community located at 3325 Holcomb Bridge Road, Peachtree Corners 30092 for $45,250,000. This is Emma Capital’s 41st purchase in the United States, and the first acquisition for the Emma Capital Investments Value Add Fund I (the “Fund”) bringing its total acquired apartments to date to over 10,000 units. 

Peachtree Corners is an affluent city in Gwinnett County conveniently located to I-85, I-285, and GA-400. The 17 square mile city was incorporated in 2005. The city’s pro-business environment has attracted over 2,300 businesses. Peachtree Corners is the economic leader of Gwinnett County, Atlanta’s fastest growing county.

The property sits on 20.13 acres at the intersections of Holcomb Bridge Road, Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and Peachtree Parkway (also known as GA-141). The property has benefited from a major rehabilitation of $10.7M between 2012-2017, with new HVAC, roofs, windows, paint, clubhouse and Hardie-Plank sidings as well as renovations of all of the interiors with plank flooring, black appliances, faux granite countertops, new cabinets, and track lighting.

“We are extremely excited about this first acquisition in our new Value Add Fund,” stated founding Partner and Co-Owner Haya Zilberboim. “We have had great success with our other properties in Atlanta and our strength and experience in the market provides us with a great opportunity to efficiently leverage our resources to immediately focus on rent growth initiatives and capital improvement projects such as income-boosting unit interior upgrades.”

“Centre at Peachtree Corners represents another strong investment opportunity for Emma Capital in the Atlanta market,” added Partner and Co-Owner Oz Cohen. “The city of Peachtree Corners is vibrant and growing, with leadership focused on well-conceived, strategic development sure to generate business interest and inspire future expansion. We are extremely happy with the performances of our current holdings in Atlanta, Phoenix Orlando, Nashville, Indianapolis and the Carolinas and continue to focus on other new Southern markets such as Dallas, Austin and Tampa.”

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Lockridge Forest: A Woodland Filled with Friends

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The club beginning 1970 | Spring 1992 | (Photos courtesy of Ron Walsh)

A neighborhood like Lockridge Forest really does feel enchanted thanks to the neighbors and community members. With over 450 homes and a nine-acre Swimming & Tennis Club, some residents have enjoyed the perks of living this community for almost 50 years.

Phil Sadd explained how it felt when he first moved to Lockridge Forest Community in 1991. “It really was like living in a forest — it still is.”

Pavilion Construction Summer 1995

Animals such as deer, owls, beavers, hawks and cranes (oh, my!) can still be spotted in your own backyard if you hail from this area of Peachtree Corners. But even more than the scenery, Sadd said he loves the sense of community. That’s why he became a City Councilmember in 2012, just after the city was incorporated.

Working together to improve

Lockridge Forest sits right on the Dunwoody and Gwinnett county lines, and it’s centrally located to over 50 businesses, schools, churches and temples. “Being right at the edge, I was worried we wouldn’t get as much attention, so I wanted to make sure this community had a voice,” Sadd explained. “I wanted to make an impact.”

Pig Roast & Pool Fun 1999

And he did. When he first moved into Lockridge Forest, there were no sidewalks, curbs or gutters. Mothers with strollers or families with small children would walk on dirt paths. Sadd has spent years setting up and maintaining amenities along Spalding Drive and Winters Chapel Road.

“The City Council has been extremely helpful with this and supported us through this process,” he said, adding that they even had the opportunity to partner with the City of Dunwoody, because a portion of Winters Chapel Road rests in their territory. “Dunwoody has been a great government partner to work with over the years,” he added.

Progressive Dinner 2000

When Sadd isn’t working on improving the community, he is enjoying the perks of living there. It’s the closest neighborhood in Peachtree Corners to I-285, so many residents enjoy shorter commutes. Some of the neighbors are so close, they even vacation together! Not to mention the many events put on by the Civic Association at the Swimming & Tennis Club, such as annual Easter Egg Hunts and Halloween Parades, as well as senior lunches, pig roasts and chili cookoffs.

Residents like Ron Walsh see to it that Lockridge Forest remains a desirable location to live or even staycation. “When we first moved to Peachtree Corners, my friends told me: You’re moving to the boonies, no one will visit you out there,” he said. “But now it has become a desirable place to visit.”

Swim & Tennis Club

Walsh has been involved in the Swim & Tennis Club for the past 30 years; at times he has been president and now he serves as Treasurer. The club first opened in 1971 when 22 members of the Lockridge Community put their own money on the line to build the pool. After a tornado came through in 1998 and ripped through the forests and club, one citizen offered a private loan to have the pool redone — with no interest. It really was a labor of love.

“It’s a park-like atmosphere,” Walsh said. “There’s a creek winding through it and when the trees are blooming and you can’t hear any traffic, it feels like you really are in a forest.”

Well sign us up! Actually, you can sign up for membership to this gem of a club because they accept families from any neighborhood, not just Lockridge Forest.

“We collect membership dues in April and May, and last year we weren’t even sure if we would be able to remain open,” Walsh said. But thanks to some hard work, the Swim & Tennis Club was able to put CDC protocols in place that allowed them to remain open to families.

In fact, last year they had the largest membership to date. After the challenges of 2020, it’s no surprise that families are valuing quality outdoor time.

Walsh talked about the importance of having places like the Swim and Tennis club available to the community. “The problem with technology overload is that we’re not giving ourselves the challenge to be bored, to be thinkers and writers and to just have the time to create,” he said.

With community members like Walsh and Sadd, it’s easy to be excited about the world returning to normal and watching Peachtree Corners continue to thrive even while going through some transitions. They both agree that residents of Lockridge Forest, who come from all walks of life, are good neighbors who feel more like family.

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Real Estate Stays Strong in Peachtree Corners

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4894 Fitzpatrick Way, Peachtree Corners Listed for $1,999,000 (Realtor.com)

The real estate market in Peachtree Corners continues to hum along in fifth gear through uncharted territory. While realtors said it’s not the hottest zip code in metro Atlanta, it stacks up quite well.

5368 Broadwood Avenue, Peachtree Corners Listed $879,900 (Zillow)

Despite the COVID pandemic — and quite possibly because of it, in part — sales, figures, prices and time-on-market statistics are amazing even veteran realtors. And what is described as a “100% a sellers’ market” shows no immediate signs of a slowdown.

6210 Neely Meadows Drive, Peachtree Corners Listed $788,800 (Zillow)

Truth in numbers

In assessing the whys and wherefores, it’s good to start by looking at some numbers. A report from Rocket Homes puts the median price of a Gwinnett County home at $290,956 in February of 2021. That’s up 8% from the same month one year before.

Tightening the focus, Meredith Blinder, a realtor with Maria Licata and Associates, pulled figures in the 30092 zip code showing the median home sales price there is up 47% and the average sales price increasing 28% for the first two months of this year, compared to 2020. The days an average home is on the market is down 74%.

Meredith Blinder

Secondly, consider Peachtree Corners itself. “Our strong schools, parks and a variety of restaurants make it a very desirable place to live,” said Blinder. In addition, she and others said, consider its relative proximity to Atlanta while being far enough out to provide more house for the money and good access to transit routes.

The final layer of icing on the cake: the city has no property tax.

That the city is pretty much built out on single-family homes and has only a modest supply of condos also stokes demand, said professionals. Blinder noted that a new development on East Jones Bridge Road will supply hundreds of units of needed inventory.

Housing stays hot

With a scant housing supply, said realtors, bidding wars have broken out locally, driving homes as much as 10% over the asking prices.

Alan Kaplan of Atlanta Fine Homes | Sotheby’s International Realty said sometimes desirable homes can show 40 times in a weekend and generate as many as 20 offers.

Alan Kaplan

Further solidifying demand have been the outgrowths of COVID. At the outset of the pandemic, many potential sellers were deterred from putting their homes on the market fearing strangers traipsing through their living rooms and, in some cases, deciding to stay put and invest instead. Building activity took a couple of months hiatus as well during the overall downtown. Overall transactions fell steeply.

“People are just wanting to have something settled in their lives in the midst of COVID,” is how Kaplan explained it. “To just be at home,” he said, as opposed to listing their home then worrying about what they themselves will find.

Now, said realtors, some residents are finding that with their lives having changed during the pandemic, they need housing with more usable office space or other adjustments.

In the mix as well are in-town residents looking for more elbow room and better value, millennials aging into homeownership as they establish families, and out-of-towners as Atlanta’s growth support seemingly continues unabated.

Then there are the historically low-interest rates, enabling prospective homeowners to stretch their money farther.

House buying strategies

Real estate professionals said with so many factors driving a lopsided market, buyers can have a number of strategies to choose from, bettering their chances in a competitive bidding market.

More and more buyers are showing up fully equipped with cash, no loan process needed.

“The first 15 years in this business, I never saw a cash purchaser,” said Nancy Minor, who along with partner Laurie Rogers helms the Nancy Minor Team. “Now, it would not be uncommon to have two or three cash buyers a month.” They’re more attractive to sellers because it eliminates the uncertainty of a loan application falling through.

But Blinder notes that those who can’t wave a fistful of dollars can employ tried-and-true strategies helping to level the playing field.

3564 Corners Way Peachtree Corners Listed $340,000 (Zillow)

“Part of it is being willing to pay over the appraised value,” she said. “And a lot of the time they are not only getting pre-qualified, but pre-approved for loans, again mitigating uncertainty for the seller.”

“We have to make our terms seem almost like an all-cash offer with a shorter due diligence period and a shorter transaction time,” said realtor Theresa Hunsucker of Engel & Völkers. “It also helps if you go in saying you’re not going to ask for nitpicky things on an inspection report.”

Theresa Hunsucker

Buyer flexibility also counters for something, she said.

For example: Buyer A isn’t willing to wait on moving in while the seller’s youngsters finish school. Buyer B says, no problem. Score one for Buyer B.

And some are even skipping the appraisal and inspection processes.

Advice for sellers

For Peachtree Corners residents listing their homes, some simple attention to the basics can go a long way, even with their sitting in the catbird seat.

Said Minor, “Sellers’ ability to get the most money from their home will still depend on doing staging, although it’s not as important as it was two or three years ago.

Nancy Minor

“And you have to get a buyer to your home in the first place, so you still need professional photos,” she added. And, she said, something as simple as an odiferous home can turn off a prospective purchaser.

That’s where having a solid real estate advisor comes in on both sides of a transaction, said professionals, in helping buyers gain a competitive edge and sellers derive maximum profit.

In a healthy market, the hottest areas in Peachtree Corners right now appear to be Peachtree Station and the Amberfield, Linfield and Riverfield neighborhoods, plus other Jim Cowart developments.

That hasn’t changed much recently, as a 2013 article named the “fields” subdivisions as being a hotbed of activity.

Realtors do say the same high-octane atmosphere does apply citywide, which can be an advantage for homeowners who might have trouble moving their property otherwise, say those with synthetic stucco.

Local real estate experts think the market will stay in good shape for this year — if interest rates or unemployment don’t rise markedly.

“I can’t stress strongly enough for people considering selling their homes to do it now while the demand is high,” remarked Kaplan. He’s suggesting that those looking to make a chance sell now, live in rental housing for a time and take time to study and assess.

Even if a downturn occurs, Kaplan said he’s much more confident that homes in the Corners will maintain value or remain less impacted in the event of a weakening economy.

Putting the current situation into perspective, he said, “It’s incredible sellers’ market, but I wouldn’t call it a good overall market because of the lack of inventory for buyers. People need to find homes and not overpay.”

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A Look Inside the UPCCA: United Peachtree Corners Civic Association

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The UPCCA team. Photos courtesy of UPCCA.

You may have wondered what it was like to work for the United Peachtree Corners
Civic Association (UPCCA)
. We’ve spoken with Gay Shook and Debbie Mason to find out about how the organization works, what they do and what they’re looking forward to for the future of Peachtree Corners.

Longtime UPCCA member Gay Shook started out in the newspaper business. Her husband Ron worked for the New York Times for more than 30 years and retired as VP of his regional group.

From editor to chairman

When they moved to Peachtree Corners over 35 years ago, he noticed that Gwinnett County did not have its own newspaper. He saw a niche in the market and took a chance, starting the “The Weekly.” He even pulled some strings with contacts at the New York Times, who helped design “The Weekly’s” masthead. He then asked his wife, Gay, to be the editor, and they worked at the newspaper together.

The paper covered from Norcross to Duluth, turning out great news and talented journalists. Politicians even began to pay attention, Gay said. “We wrecked a few careers. Let’s just say, if your moral compass spins, I am going to know about it.”

When her husband fell ill in 1997, they had no choice but to consolidate to an online version. By this point, Gay had her pick of organizations to join, and she chose the UPCCA. She became the Chairman of the Peachtree Corners Improvement Project.

“Peachtree Parkway looks as good as it does now because of us,” she beamed. They should be proud. The parkway is clean and green with manicured roadsides and tree-lined streets. It doesn’t have any of the usual eyesores you would see on a major highway.

“Developers knew that if they wanted anything, they had to go through us,” Gay said. She remembers their reputation preceding them with community leaders.

UPCCA Cleanup

What you may not know is that the UPCCA actually got the help of Tech Park for the major cleanup project. They conducted a study and took aerial shots of the parkway to help calculate how much money it would take for mowing and garbage pickup. In the end, they came up with $1.41 per square foot as a goal for the cleanup project. The organization used that number to estimate how much money they would need to raise every year.

UPCCA decided to go with Piedmont Landscaping Company for the project because the President, Drew Watkins, was willing to go the extra mile. “There was an ugly pit next to the access road behind what is now Chicago Hot Dog,” Gay said. I asked him if there was anything he could do to make it nicer, and he made it happen.”

Securing the sign

But the greatest uphill battle that she remembers from her days in the UPCCA was the talisman to this beautiful city, the Peachtree Corners entrance sign. Originally, it was supposed to be positioned off the exit near what is now the Target shopping center. Gay had bigger plans, but that involved seeking special permission from the Georgia Highway Association.

The commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Russel McMurry — who you may know as the person in charge of fixing the infamous burned overpass in Atlanta — was working as a district engineer at the time when he gave them the go ahead for the sign.

Then it was just a matter of finding a way to secure funds for the sign, and it was Representative Tom Rice who handed Gay the answer. He notified the UPCCA about a special grant that the city could apply for, and the county would match the funds to reach their goal.

The city got the grant, but even with that, the funds for the sign fell short. It was Paul Duke himself who provided his last gift to the City of Peachtree Corners. The UPCCA decided to get creative and change the sign — including the words “Entering Paul Duke Parkway” — and the Duke family made up the difference for the iconic entranceway we see today.

“When you enter, you know you’re in Peachtree Corners, because it looks different than any other suburb of Atlanta,” Gay said, noting that all the group’s efforts were definitely worth it. “It just goes to show, you can make anything happen, all you need is the right person to help.”

The first lady gets involved

Gay said she believes that the community members of Peachtree Corners are what make this city so special. Members like Peachtree Corners developer and innovator Jim Cowart. “I saw him do things for people that nobody knew about. If someone had a baby, they would find a baby basket full of supplies on their doorstep a few days later,” Gay shared. “And I knew so many people like that, who were always doing things for other people silently.”

Other important people in UPCCA’s success story include the first lady of Peachtree Corners, Debbie Mason. Mason joined the UPCCA in 2007. Her husband, Mayor Mike Mason, was one of the founding members of the organization and eventually went on to be the president.

Mayor Mike Mason gives a safety speech.

When Debbie’s oldest son graduated college, Mike asked her to become a member. She took over as chairman of the Peachtree Parkway improvement project from Gay. “I was like Gay 2.0,” Debbie joked, “I treated the project with just as much love as her.”

The city eventually took over the highway improvement project and the UPCCA donated any leftover funds to the city. “I was glad to be rid of it,” Debbie remarked about the more than $25,000 worth of funds they procured over the years. “It definitely was a labor of love.”

UPCCA keeps it all together

So what have the members of the UPCCA been up to since achieving cityhood in 2010? “People always ask: what do we still need the UPCCA for, now that we’re a city?” Debbie said. She explained that, even though they don’t have any real pull in government office, the UPCCA acts as the liaison representing the people of Peachtree Corners to the county. In matters where the city and the county don’t always agree, Debbie knows the UPCCA will always side with the citizens. “We keep the community connected at a time when people are as disconnected as they’ve ever been,” she said.

And connected we are. The UPCCA now coordinates tons of city-wide meetings which are open to anyone. “We maintain a level of transparency with the city,” Debbie said. Those meetings include their annual C.O.P.S. meeting, which allows residents to keep an open line of communication with the Gwinnett Police Department and stay informed about what is going on in their community. It always has a huge turnout.

There is also the “Great American Cleanup” where Peachtree Corners compete for the award in “most pounds of trash picked up.” Not to mention the annual $1,000 scholarship the association gives to two resident students of the community. Despite the pandemic, Debbie is still planning the Peachtree Corners Festival, but it will likely be moved to later in the year than June.

This year, the UPCCA will also be bringing back the “Star Award Program” to recognize the unsung heroes of Peachtree Corners. Speaking of unsung heroes, Debbie was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer; even though she recognizes that it could be potentially problematic, she still plans on being involved in the UPCCA as much as possible.

“This will be the biggest challenge I have ever had to overcome. But I just have to try and listen to my body, and say no when I don’t have the energy,” Debbie said.

From the pandemic to the tumultuous election, Gay and Debbie are looking forward to seeing how the events of the last year will affect the future of Peachtree Corners. But one thing will always stay the same — UPCCA’s dedication to serving its community.

To stay up to date on all the UPCCA events or nominate your hero, visit UPCCA.gov and subscribe to their newsletter.

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