Ardent Companies Purchases 9 Offices on Franklin Gateway

Marietta Daily Journal -- May 5, 2018

By:  Shaddi Abusaid, sabusaid@mdjonline.com

Cumberland-based Ardent Companies has purchased nine office buildings off Franklin Gateway in Marietta’s Franklin Forest Business Park as part of a $41.4 million deal that includes office space in Norcross.

The 21-building, 880,000-square-foot industrial warehouse properties were purchased for about $47 a foot, said Scott Werbel, Ardent’s managing director of acquisitions.

City Manager Bill Bruton said the total square footage of the Marietta buildings purchased from High Street Realty Company is 304,963 square feet. They are 68 percent leased.

Werbel said his real estate investment firm plans to make improvements to the buildings, bring rent prices up to market value and increase the occupancy rates of both office parks.

“We’re going to be putting in a significant amount of capital improvements,” he said, adding they would later determine whether to refinance or sell the buildings.

A major factor in the company’s decision to purchase the Franklin property, Werbel said, was the city’s efforts to revitalize the corridor through a combination of grants and $68 million in taxpayer-supported bonds. Using the funding, the city has purchased dilapidated apartment complexes and razed them, reselling the property at a loss to entice private development.

The nearby Atlanta United practice facility as well as the new IKEA and Drive Shack planned for Franklin all factored into Ardent’s decision to purchase the buildings, Werbel said.

“Obviously the city of Marietta is really focusing on getting Franklin Gateway cleaned up,” Werbel said. “And it’s not just words or intent, it’s really action. That’s what attracted us to make the investment.”

Bruton called the private investment another positive development in the “continuing rebirth of the Franklin Gateway corridor.

“It is an example of the private sector confidence in the work that the city has been doing, and the willingness to invest in the future of Franklin Gateway and Marietta,” he said.

Caroline Whaley