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Atlanta real estate market suits Chinese company

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-05-18 17:28

A Chinese property-development company has found a comfortable niche in the thriving Atlanta real estate market.

Dezhu US Investment Inc was started four years ago by Beijing native Eric Xue and three partners who are also from China.

The company now has a pipeline of 14 projects in residential, mixed-use and hotel in metro Atlanta, Georgia that is valued at about $500 million.

“We have always liked the potential for the Atlanta market,” Xue said. “More companies are moving their North American headquarters to the city like Mercedes-Benz (USA) did. This generates jobs and demand for housing,” he said.

In March, Mercedes-Benz formally opened its new North American headquarters, moving the operation and its 1,000 jobs from New Jersey.

Xue and his partners named their company Dezhu, which comes from one of the most important books in the history of Asian culture — the I Ching, or the Book of Changes.

Most of Dezhu’s developments have been in the multifamily sector such as apartments and town houses. That is because the company has property in high-density areas of Atlanta like the midtown and downtown sections.

“Land prices are high (in those areas) and are not feasible for single-family development,” Xue said. He said the midtown and downtown areas also are favored by young professionals who generally prefer having a lot of neighbors.

Still, Dezhu does have some single-family developments in Atlanta’s suburbs, said Xue.

For now, Dezhu is focused on expanding its portfolio in Atlanta, although it may consider other locations. “We do have plans to start projects outside of Atlanta in Florida and Texas, but that is in the future,” Xue said.

The company is also stepping out of its comfort zone by developing Castleberry Park, a mixed-use project in downtown Atlanta that will include a 200-room Hard Rock Hotel near the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Super Bowl LIII early next year.

“That is an example of understanding the property which is near the stadium in an area that will see many tourists and visitors,” Xue said.

Xue said Dezhu gets its capital from local sources including banks, private-equity firms and investors.

Gabe Chatham is a local builder who is also secretary-treasurer of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. He said Dezhu is making an impact in the city.

“They have done an excellent job in market research and in identifying the right product for the right property and they have a good reputation in the market,” he said in an interview. “Hiring local engineers and contractors has also helped.”

Chatham believes that Dezhu’s development of the Hard Rock Hotel will be a success. “It is being built in an area that will see a lot of development because it is near the stadium. This project has the right location, and partnering with Hard Rock will provide the right branding as well,” he said.

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