At the southern edge of Midtown is a large green grass patch wrapping around the old Ponce Condo building at the corner of Peachtree and Ponce and North. The Ponce is an interesting building - no air conditioning and very quirky European-like spaces. Every one is different. Easy to imagine secretaries, young adults in first careers renting them as apartments back in the 30s and 40s when the city was on the rise and you walked out your door and got on the streetcar to go to work. The Ponce is a hard sell for real estate agents these days unless your client is into old quirky spaces.
In 2006, Cousins Properties bought and imploded the old First National Bank Building next door to the Ponce. The idea was a large new condo project would emerge, but alas, the economy intervened and plans ground to a halt. The property was fenced - there were rumors that in other cities, urban tracts such as that one became campgrounds for the homeless.
Now six years later we hear that the green grass has been sold for a wonderful new project- a cancer treatment center using proton therapy - very space age. Emory University is growing north from what we used to call Crawford Long Hospital, a little further toward downtown. Of course the Emory version sprang up out of nowhere as so many new things do. For decades it was sleepy Crawford Long and then all of a sudden it is a new hospital! Right there on Peachtree! Kind of like Georgia Tech crossing the freeway into Midtown. One day it's a bridge across the Connector; the next it is a pedestrian street with trees!
Back when I was in my 20,s my business partner, Fran Burst-Terranella, and I were fortunate enough to get a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to produce a documentary film about Lila Bonner-Miller, an 80-year-old psychiatrist with big ties to Atlanta.
We marched down to the First National Bank of Atlanta on Peachtree clutching that check and eager to open an account. We sat in the lobby for 30 minutes and not one person greeted us or asked if they could help. I guess we looked like two 20-somethings of the artistic type. So we finally got up and went over to the then C&S Bank on Ponce up near Plaza Drugs and duly opened an account. The banker who was named Randy welcomed us and showed us right into his office.
So for me, that grassy patch on Peachtree that will become a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center will always be where some banker misjudged a couple of young adult women with a mission and big check (big for us an in those days, big for aspiring documentary filmmakers.) Hmmm, can't judge a book by its cover or some such? It's still true.
Young professionals come to Atlanta to seek their fortunes and whether they live in an apartment and go to work in a law office or graduate from art school and find a loft from which to paint or write music, Atlanta is a draw and is projected to be well into the 21st century.
And Midtown real estate with its layers of history and stories is at the heart of the city's growth.