280 Elizabeth StreetBy Collin Kelley
INtown Editor

The collection of office buildings, parking lots and the building that houses Dad’s Garage theatre company in Inman Park is about to get a serious makeover. Known as the “280 Elizabeth Street project,” the 3.3 acres bounded by Elizabeth Street, Lake Avenue and North Highland Avenue will soon be home to a mixed-use development with apartments, retail and restaurants.

JPX Works, a partnership between developers Jarel Portman and Bruce Fernald, closed on the property May 31, but demolition on the collection of buildings won’t begin until Dad’s Garage finishes its season and moves to a temporary home at 7 Stages Theatre at the end of July.

While lawsuits and community concerns delayed the approval of the Elizabeth Street project, Portman said he is pleased that the Inman Park Neighborhood Association has given its blessing to the development. “It’s notoriously tough to get development approved in Inman Park, but they are challenging us to do a great job and we plan to live up to that.”

Portman said his goal with Elizabeth Street “is once you get home on Friday, you’re not getting back in your car until Monday morning.” To that end, JPX is looking for the right combination of retail and restaurants to fill the space, along with creating a design that makes residents want to stay on the property and in Inman Park.

Portman said there will be 167,000 square feet of multi-family and 38,957 square feet of retail space, mixed evenly between retail shops and restaurants. At the corner of Elizabeth and North Highland will be a stand-along restaurant space, which will keep the scale of surrounding buildings like Friti and Pure Taqueria, and feature an eco-friendly green roof to minimize heating and cooling costs as well as provide a space for growing fresh vegetables.

There will be 200 apartments in the complex, each with a balcony or outdoor space. Portman said the style of the apartments will range from studios to two bedroom townhouse-style apartments, which will face the lake and greenspace at the property’s center. “We’re going for a look inspired by the brownstones in Chicago and New York for the townhomes,” Portman said, noting that he wants 280 Elizabeth to compliment the successful IPV Lofts, Blue Horse and the old Meade company redevelopment, which features a mix of apartments, townhomes and single-family Craftsman-style homes facing Lake Avenue.

The apartment homes will range in size from 498 square feet to 1,512 square feet and amenities will include a fitness center, club room, outdoor kitchen, swimming pool, a rooftop terrace lounge and 570 parking spaces for the homes and retail. The parking deck will be “wrapped” by the buildings hiding it from street view, Portman said.

“There will be a dozen floorplans to choose from in the apartments and easy access for residents and visitors to get to the restaurants and shops, “Portman said. “We’re also planning a ‘doggy car wash’ for residents and their pets.”

The “town center” aspect of the property will feature areas for residents to congregate, wild grass, perennials, water wall and connect to the lake.
Portman said the 280 Elizabeth property has several unique design challenges, including the fact that it sits in a “bowl” prone to flooding and that it is bisected by a sewer line dating back to 1880. “We’ll build up the grade of the property to eliminate the flooding issue and we’ll improve the sewer line.”

Lending expertise and engineering to the Elizabeth Street project are a couple of other names well known in the development world: Mark Randall, who worked with Wood Partners and the Meade project, John Long, formerly with Novare Group.

Portman said site work will begin this month as tenants begin to leave the site. He said the first units will be completed by next September and the entire 280 Elizabeth Street project will be completed by December 2014 or January of 2015. Portman said the official name of the project will be announced soon.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.