A rendering of the planned apartment project. (Courtesy of Fairfield Residential)

A luxury apartment project is planned for a vacant shopping center in Sandy Springs.  

San Diego, Calif.-based Fairfield Residential is planning a 286-unit multifamily project at 7300 Roswell Road. Known as the North Springs Center, the roughly 9-acre site was once anchored by Big Lots.

“I think the style of that previous retail development just really wasn’t attractive to retailers in today’s marketplace,” said Tommy Brunson, president of development and construction for Fairfield Residential. “To me, this is a higher and better use for the real estate.”

It will be the first project Fairfield has developed in Sandy Springs, although the company has been active for years in Atlanta. Brunson said they were drawn to the Sandy Springs site due to its transportation access and the quality of the community.

“It’s going to be good for the city to have another new project out there to help with the growth that Sandy Springs is experiencing,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re cleaning up the eyesore … We spent a lot of time with the Sandy Springs staff making sure that we’ve met all of the city’s requirements. That planning process has taken well over a year.”

Demolition of the shopping center should start in about 30 days, making way for the three-story apartment complex, Brunson said. The project will feature a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with an average size of just under 1,000 square feet. It will also offer townhome-style, two-story units with 1,600 to 2,000 square feet.

“I think that is going to be a product type to bring to the city that hopefully people will find attractive,” Brunson said. “Larger average unit sizes to give a little bit more space to people who are working from home or people with families.”

Fairfield’s project will be the first new apartment complex in Sandy Springs since the Adley City Springs delivered in 2020, according to Ladson Haddow with Haddow & Company, an Atlanta-based real estate consulting firm.

Haddow & Company last summer surveyed the ten newest multifamily communities in Sandy Springs, representing almost 3,000 units. For those projects, the average monthly rent was $1,771, or $1.93 per square foot. At that time, the occupancy rate of those properties was 97.5%.

“From 2014 – 2020, the city of Sandy Springs experienced a wave of apartment deliveries after years of hardly any class-A product being built in the city,” Haddow said. “Those communities are well leased and are achieving strong rents, which suggests there is pent-up demand for more apartments in certain parts of the city.”

CoStar Group says the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody market has seen year-over-year rent growth of 22.5%, above the metro Atlanta average of 17.5%.

“The recent lack of new supply, coupled with the surge in demand for housing over the past year and a half, has allowed for owners to raise rents at a faster pace than the metro average recently,” said David Kahn, Southeast director of market analytics for CoStar Group. 

However, rents in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody (which CoStar says average $1,721/month) are still more affordable than intown markets such as Midtown ($2,110/month) and Buckhead ($2,042/month). 

“But residents in Sandy Springs/Dunwoody don’t have to sacrifice access to major job centers, proximity to retail and neighborhood amenities, or access to transit,” Kahn said. 

Sandy Springs has been trying to encourage redevelopment in the city’s North End. It recently approved a new zoning district for three shopping centers in the North End, which aims to spark mixed-use redevelopment of the retail properties.

North Springs Center had originally been part of the North End study process, but it was left out of the new zoning district when Fairfield Residential took over the site.

Redevelopment of North Springs Center took years due to environmental issues at the property.

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.