By GEORGE MONTGOMERY
ATLANTA — Ponce City Market is located in the southwest corner of Midtown Atlanta and has a rich history, despite being open less than two years.
What began as a Sears and Roebuck distribution center in 1926 is now a mixed-use development with more than 1 million square feet of shops, offices and apartment homes. Ponce City Market stands as the perfect example of mixed-use development with more than 439 residential units and hundreds of thousands of feet for retail and office space.
The project was made possible by the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program, which awards substantial tax breaks and incentives to developers who wish to restore and redevelop historic buildings.
The Flats at Ponce City Market have stunning views of Downtown Atlanta and rent at a starting price north of $1,700 for a 500-square-foot studio. Many residents are worried these apartment homes set a price-point precedent for other rental properties nearby.
AMLI Old 4th Ward is an apartment complex located across the street from Ponce City Market and overlooks the Historic Fourth Ward Park. A one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in AMLI starts above $1,600 a month, slightly less than a studio in Ponce City Market.
This apartment complex boasts easy access to the Beltline and the Fourth Ward Park, which is a major attraction for many Atlantans.
The Historic Fourth Ward Park is not only a beautiful place to enjoy nature, walk your dog and exercise, but it also acts as a collection pond for runoff water.
“There was a big flooding issue in this area before the park was built,” said Tyrone Rachal, president of Urban Key Capital Partners. “It’s not just a pretty lake. It actually pumps stormwater out of the system so we don’t flood.”
Invest Atlanta, which worked to help develop the areas surrounding the Beltline, played a major role in the creation of the Historic Fourth Ward Park.
Rachal, who worked for Invest Atlanta during the development process, said tax allocation districts, or TADs, are the reason the Beltline and the developments around it exist.
Another apartment complex across the street from Ponce City Market and facing the Beltline 755 North. It also has benefited from these TADs.
These districts generate tax revenue that allow for development.
“The assessed values of the property within the districts are fixed at a certain rate,” Rachal said. “Growth that occurs after the TAD is established can be used to pledge bonds.”
Tax allocation districts carried the development and funding for the Beltline project, which is currently incomplete. The Historic Fourth Ward Park, which is a development separate from the Beltline, is being completed in phases with a large, unfinished portion between the collection pond and the green space and skate park.
The Eastside trail is the first completed portion of the Beltline project. This two-mile stretch of paved trail and linear green space is a favorite among Atlantans, connecting the sound end of Piedmont Park in Midtown to the Inman Park neighborhood.
Many businesses near the redeveloped Ponce City Market have attempted to re-brand themselves to avoid negative association with what was once a high-crime neighborhood.
Beltline Kroger was once known as “Murder Kroger” because of various other unfortunate events including killings that occurred between 1991 and 2015. Despite the owner’s attempts to refresh their image with new signage and a beautiful mural on the side of the building, it appears to be impossible to clear the building’s grim past. It was announced in early 2016 that the building will be torn down and redeveloped as a mixed-use complex.