720 Ralph McGill Blvd NE · Atlanta, Georgia · 30312
At Anthem on Ashley, an apartment community inside Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, we let the spirit of the property—past and present—guide the project, working to embody the energy of its neighborhood from start to finish.
Crank the dial back to 2015, and zero in on the 700 block of Ralph McGill Boulevard in Atlanta’s booming Old Fourth Ward—the site of NAP’s Anthem on Ashley, and its 244 apartment homes—and you’d see a nearly windowless, low-slung industrial building. Imagine the wayback machine has sound however, and the ghost of the place comes to life. Formerly Thunderbox Studios—a warren of 10x10-foot practice spaces at the cultural center of Atlanta’s rock, pop and metal scene for a decade around the mid 2000s—its history lives on not only in the photographs, or in the artifacts that live in Anthem’s public spaces (drumsticks, guitar picks, a few vinyl albums), but in the renewed spirit of the property itself.
The vibe and energy level of Old Fourth Ward was so apparent.
From a physical perspective, it was really the crown jewel piece of real estate in Old Fourth Ward.
The location—bookending Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward Park opposite Ponce City Market, just steps from the BeltLine—is about as good as it gets. But part of what is so special about this area is the inherent vibe of the neighborhood, and we wanted to make sure the property maintained the sense of communal energy that Thunderbox no doubt helped create. That’s how we ended up with 244 units instead of 245. When the property broke ground in August 2015, it was zoned, designed and permitted for 245. But soon after we began construction, it became apparent that the top corner looking back toward the park was going to have incredible views thanks to its high topography. So we decided to redesign it, and turned that corner unit into a rooftop terrace for the whole community to enjoy. You could say we let the property sort of speak for itself when we started putting the development together. It’s an example of the kind of thinking NAP Partner and Senior Vice President of Residential Development Richard Munger says was used to guide the entire process, from construction through to sale: “Let Anthem just be Anthem. Don’t try to put it in a box.”
The same kind of “unconventional” approach was used when leasing the property. Playing off the neighborhood’s relaxed, noncorporate feel, the management group swapped their formal uniform for casual, everyday wear, and we played ’70s and ’80s rock music in the lobby as a bit of an homage to Thunderbox. The leasing office also kept a keg on tap and we had craft beer stocked in the model apartments. We even had a garage painting party and invited local artists to leave their mark on the walls of our parking garage. “These places have to come alive. They have to become part of a story,” Munger explains. “That was really the key to why this thing leased up as well as it did and had such an interest level leading up to the sale.”
The property welcomed its first residents in July 2017, and by spring 2018, it was primed for sale. We knew that part of what made the project so special was its location—proximity to the Beltline, the park, and the walkable shopping and dining in the surrounding area—and we wanted to show the neighborhood off in its best light, literally. We waited until after daylight savings time began in March so we would have an additional hour of sunlight to show the property and the activity energizing the area: bikers zipping by on the BeltLine, diners enjoying cocktails on patios, yogis stretching in the park. It proved to be a smart move. Anthem on Ashley ultimately sold for $75 million, or $370 per square foot, setting a new record for wood-framed multifamily development in Metro Atlanta.