By Douglas Sams

Reprinted from Atlanta Business Chronicle, August 24-30, 2012

Real Estate Notes

A Portland, Maine-based affordable housing company has purchased the old Briarcliff Hotel on Ponce for almost $10 million, and plans another $11 million in renovations to turn around the appearance of the Atlanta landmark.

A partnership including Beau King of Kim King Associates, and John Beam and Keith Morris of Centerline Capital Group, sold the 200-room apartment building at Ponce and Highland Avenues. The partnership formed in 2005 and intended to redevelop the well known building, now known as Briarcliff Summit apartments, into luxury condos.

The market then collapsed, and the partnership continued to maintain the property as rental homes for primarily older residents on limited incomes.

“We could have returned it to its former glory days if we had been able to develop the condos,” Beam said.

The partnership lacked the capital to upgrade the apartments and the rental income was insufficient to support improvements to the aging building, Beam said. It sought a buyer who could pour more money into the project, and had the talent to pull off a turnaround. It eventually identified Evergreen.

“We always wanted to do the right thing,” Beam said. “I know the Virginia Highland and Briarcliff area well, and consider it unique in Atlanta.”

Evergreen known for rehabilitating affordable housing projects, bought Briarcliff Summit Aug. 6 for $9.7 million, according to Databank. Evergreen Principal Brian Poulin said renovations have already started. The units will remain Section 8 housing.

The building has a colorful past in Virginia-Highland, a residential area just northeast of downtown Atlanta that began to emerge in the late 1800s. Once locally famous as the 9-story Briarcliff hotel, the building is still a landmark in the area. It was built between 1924 and 1925 by the investment company of Asa G. Candler Jr. the second son of Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler Sr. The famous American gangster Al Capone was even said to have stayed in the hotel.