The Ardent Cos. has purchased four buildings in Piedmont Center, the largest office complex in Atlanta’s ritzy Buckhead district, with plans to modernize the property and add retail.

Ardent would not disclose the price, and the transaction is not yet reflected in Fulton County property deeds. The firm did say its total investment in Piedmont Center, where it already owned most of the buildings, has reached $465 million. Ardent now controls the entire office park, which is poised for a transformation with more amenities and connections to the nearby PATH 400 greenway.

What it means:Ardent, a privately held real estate firm, bought buildings 5, 6, 7 and 8, totaling just over 500,000 square feet, one of the biggest deals in the Atlanta office market this year. Prior to the deal, Ardent owned nearly 80% of Piedmont Center. With its purchase of the remaining buildings, it has assembled 2.2-million-square-feet in Atlanta’s commercial real estate, financial and luxury shopping district. Ardent has moved their headquarters into Building 1 of Piedmont Center, saying it’s another sign of confidence in Buckhead. Piedmont Center will connect to PATH 400, which surrounds the complex and may become an important amenity in the late pandemic as workers return to the office work and want access to public, outdoor spaces.

The basics:Granite Properties was the seller. It owned buildings 5-8 since 2013, when it bought them for about $67 million, according to Fulton County. In 2020, the county valued the buildings at $90 million.

They said it: “Piedmont Center has great energy with a diverse mix of tenants from tech, consulting, and other growth industries,” said Ardent Managing Director Scott Werbel. “We look forward to continuing to build on the momentum and connectivity to the Buckhead community.”

At a glance: Construction of Piedmont Center began in 1981. Ardent carried out renovations in 2016 following its purchase of Piedmont Center buildings 9-12, also known as “The Fountains.” A year later, Ardent started renovations on buildings 1-4, known as “The Commons.” The office complex is anchored by healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente and healthcare technology company Change Healthcare.

Perspective: Ardent has expanded its portfolio in Buckhead, where office rents in the commercial core are averaging just barely over $37 per square foot and about $29.50 per square in the lower end of the district, according to CoStar. Buckhead has about 4.2 million square feet of vacancy. Ardent will likely continue positioning Piedmont Center as a well-located bargain for growing tech firms, including startups coming out of nearby Atlanta Tech Village.

What’s Next: The 14-building office complex on Piedmont Road is set for renovations. The work will follow a recent rezoning of the project, giving Ardent flexibility to consider a mix of uses, Mike Guynn, managing director with Ardent, said in a statement. “We have only just begun to unveil Piedmont Center’s potential as a dynamic environment catering to the Buckhead market.” Ardent will modernize the interior and exterior of the buildings, including the lobbies and add retail amenities, but the firm was not specific about what types of stores and restaurants it is pursuing.

By Donnell Suggs – Development Reporter, Atlanta Business Chronicle