During the housing boom of the early 2000s, Atlanta became one of the more desirable metropolitan areas in the country. Young professionals, drawn by the number of corporations based in Atlanta, flocked to the city and surrounding suburban communities, which seemed to spread ever outward.
However, as chronicled in a June Forefront article, the 2008 recession exposed flaws behind Atlanta’s rapid growth, and the city once again found itself in the spotlight as one of those hit worst by the housing crisis. The symptoms were all too familiar: Scantly occupied high rises, partially completed housing developments out in the suburbs and exurbs, and boarded up businesses and houses lining the streets of many communities.
But things might not stay this way for too long. Earlier this year, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on a fresh crop of New Urbanist developers that has emerged amidst the carnage of the Great Recession.
At the center of this new movement is Katharine Kelley, president and CEO of Green Street Properties and director of Jamestown Properties.
Kelley has spent her career revitalizing historic sites throughout Atlanta. Her first major endeavor focused on the restoration of the Castle, a city landmark that had fallen into disrepair.
Kelley’s current project, however, is on an entirely different scale: In 2011, Jamestown Properties bought the Ponce City Market, a 2 million-square-foot former Sears Roebuck distribution center from the city of Atlanta for $15.4 million. The company has said it intendeds to model the redevelopment of the Ponce City Market after perhaps its most high-profile project, the Chelsea Market Manhattan.
The project will be completed by 2014. It has been estimated that Jamestown Properties will have to invest around $180 million into the property, which will become a mix of retail, dining, office and residential space.
Located in the center of the Atlanta BeltLine, the Ponce City Market is seen as the ingredient that will enable the project to reach its full potential as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Old Fourth Ward and Ponce de Leon. Planners envision the market emerging as a hub for commercial activity for the east end of Atlanta, with the building’s retail spaces and restaurants completing an afternoon bike trip or hike along the BeltLine.