Ponce City Market is destined to be an extraordinary project from the beginning.
First there is the old Sears & Roebuck building which first opened for business in 1926, and is now an Atlanta landmark.
And its location on Ponce de Leon is in perfect proximity to attract residents from Atlanta’s urban neighborhoods, such as Virginia Highlands, Inman Park and Mid-town. Then there is the mammoth 2.1 million gross square foot under roof that was available at the start of the project. Plus the coming Atlanta Belt Line would certainly help make the completed project a local destination. And then there’s the developer, Jamestown Development and Construction (JDC), an expert at environmentally-sensitive land development which includes “walkable” street designs, and a focus on green construction practices and operations. Previous projects by Jamestown include White Provisions in Atlanta, Chelsea Market in New York, and Chattanooga’s Warehouse Row.
The Sears Building opened in 1926 serving as a warehouse facility as well as a retail store for Sears and Roebuck. Beginning in 1929 the Ponce Sears Farmer’s Market operated on the site for farmers to sell their produce on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. After the Farmer’s Market closed in 1947, Sears continued to operate their store for another 3 decades.
The City of Atlanta purchased the building in the late 1980s, and from 1990 to 2011, the building became known as City Hall East, since the city of Atlanta was using it for government offices. However, the building was so large that the city could not use the entire facility. The best estimate is that the city operated about 10-15% of the available space, and only a third of the building was ever re-purposed. The other two-thirds were left as a virtual intact time capsule from when Sears had closed its doors for the final time in 1979.
In 2011, Jamestown purchased the property, and began their most recent historic renovation. Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects was selected to design the new Ponce City Market.
Jamestown’s Senior Vice President of Development appreciates the building’s history. “One of the things that’s happened over the past couple of decades in this country is the overwhelming majority of the development that has occurred has led to a lack of authenticity. This plague of sameness has really stripped away a lot of what is special and authentic about places. I think there’s a real curiosity about history, about the things that have a sense of permanence and place. How that’s really translated into the development is that we are taking painstaking care to not clean it up too much, not to strip the patina away from the building. We want people, when they walk through the building, to really experience what it’s been like for the last 90 or so years.”
As an example of Irwin’s point, Jamestown is retrofitting the building’s historic 46,000-gallon steel water tank to harness water from the site’s natural spring to supply the site. The water tank using the site’s natural spring remains true to the building’s history, while employing a smart use of an available natural resource. Another example of Jamestown’s environmental awareness are LED street lights, which last twice as long as standard street lights, use half the power, provide color accurate nighttime lighting, and can be programmed to dim after certain hours to maximize the energy efficiency. And the project boasts that it has recycled over 84,000,000 lbs of material which has been diverted from landfill.
Ponce City Market is not just a massive historic renovation; it is the largest adaptive re-use development in Atlanta’s history. It will include 330,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 475,000 square feet of office space, and 259 residential flats. And it will be located on the Atlanta Belt Line, a multi-billion dollar rail project designed to connect the city’s historic neighborhoods utilizing an existing 22 mile railroad track that generally encircles the city of Atlanta. Once complete, Jamestown plans to have Ponce City Market added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The new in-town destination offers a marketplace with flexible space for people to gather, eat and shop all day, inspired by places such as Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The Central Food Hall will provide places for a breakfast meeting, a quick lunch or a dinner date reaching into the night. But this is also an office building. Many companies will be calling the Ponce City Market home. Jamestown led the way, creating their new headquarters on-site. And, it is also a place to live close to the city. In years to come, it will be a year-round destination for people living in or near Atlanta.
Our company, NTI (Network Technologies, Inc.), was hired as technology consultants for the project, responsible for designing the ITS cabling infrastructure, access control, and CCTV throughout the facility. Robert Coggins, NTI’s Project Manager for the project, described NTI’s task this way. “The reality is that while it is a single project, in many ways it is like working on many interconnected projects. There are multiple GCs, multiple architects, and a lot of unique areas each with specific technology needs. Coordination among everyone involved is critical, and there are a lot of people involved.” NTI began working on Ponce City Market in 2012 and is still working to complete the collective technology design and construction administration required months after the first part of the facility has been open for business.
In late August 2014, the vision became a reality when Ponce City Market officially opened. Binders, General Assembly, and the Suzuki School joined Dancing Goats Coffee Bar (who had opened prior to August) as the first tenants of the building. Athenahealth became the first office tenant in September, with approximately 200 employees. And in October, residents of the Flats at Ponce began moving in.
In the spring of 2015, the Central Food Hall will open to the public with at least a few restaurants. The BeltLine bridge connection will also open, as will the BeltLine rail shed and some of the retail stores. Throughout the rest of 2015 more retail will open, and finally, the Roof at Ponce City Market.
As we anticipated from the start, Ponce City market is a truly impressive development, and it is certain to become an instant urban magnet built as a live, work and play environment for the entire surrounding area.
by John Davis – Business Development Director