By Savannah Durban, Communications Specialist
Welcome to #TBT or “Throwback Thursday,” a monthly feature that highlights Atlanta’s historic buildings.
Building Address: 675 Ponce De Leon Avenue
Year Opened: 1926
Once believed to be the site of Juan Ponce de Leon’s mystical fountain of youth, 675 Ponce De Leon Avenue has certainly proven that old things can be made new again. In 1925, Sears, Roebuck & Co. announced plans to build a retail store and mail order house in Atlanta on a 16-acre site away from Downtown. After only six months of construction, the $3 million first phase debuted in 1926, attracting tens of thousands to its grand opening. Capitalizing on its success, Sears would add phases, floors and buildings in the following years, before closing its doors completely in 1987.
In 1991, the City of Atlanta purchased the building to create a second city hall. The $10 million the city intended to spend on the renovation quickly became $28 million, and in 2003 with the building half full, Mayor Shirley Franklin announced that the city was ready to sell. After a failed condo, office and retail project in the early 2000s, Jamestown, the current owner, acquired the property in 2010.
Jamestown planned a mixed-use development that would re-imagine the still-standing Sears building as Ponce City Market, a destination that was unlike anything Atlanta had seen before. At 2.1 million square feet, the project was a massive undertaking including 259 residences, 550,000 square feet of office space above 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a rooftop park overlooking the city. But in 2012, the first tenant – Dancing Goats Coffee Shop – opened, followed by a wave of additional openings in 2014 and 2015, when the property was fully open.
Today, Atlantans flock to Ponce City Market to enjoy its diverse food hall, play old-school carnival-style games on the rooftop deck, work in some of the city’s leading office space (leased by Aileen Almassy and Kyle Kenyon of Cushman & Wakefield) and live with easy access to the Atlanta BeltLine. It has become one of the city’s top destinations, and Phase II, including a hotel, a residential building and additional office space, was announced in July.