George Ivey Jr. followed a trail blazed by his great-great-great-great-grandfather, Hardy Ivy, who in 1833 became the first person of European descent to put down roots within what are now the city limits of Atlanta.
Like his 19th century ancestor, who spelled his name slightly differently, George Ivey cleared land and developed it.
Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, now the president of the Buckhead Coalition, said George Ivey and his brothers Harold and Billy were major movers and shakers guiding the growth of Buckhead.
Before the 1970s, Massell noted, the Northside community’s skyline was pretty much defined by six- and seven-story office buildings built by the Iveys.
“Today’s developers will be amused to learn former Atlanta Mayor Bill Hartsfield kind of persuaded the Iveys to limit the height of their properties so as not to compete with Atlanta’s downtown,” Massell said. “That was before Buckhead was annexed by Atlanta in 1952 and before he had any authority over Buckhead, but George and his brothers were smart enough to stay on Bill’s good side.”
“Buckhead wouldn’t be Buckhead without George Ivey and his brothers,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. “He was a wise real estate investor who understood location was important, but more important still was the value he added to his properties.”
Ivey built the first multi-story office buildings in Buckhead at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont Roads and the first multi-use retail and office buildings at Peachtree and West Paces Ferry, plus more office and retail buildings on East Paces Ferry. He also developed homes along Wieuca, North Stratford, Ivy and North Ivy Roads.
He put up the first shopping center in Sandy Springs, the original Kennestone Hospital in Marietta and numerous A&P groceries throughout Atlanta. He built air bases for the Defense Department, including the Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi. His last big project before concentrating on public service was the power house at Buford Dam.
George Hoyle Ivey Jr., 92, of Atlanta died Feb. 24 of heart failure at Embracing Hospice in Cumming. His funeral will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs. H.M. Patterson & Son, Arlington Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.
Isakson said Ivey was a visionary who saw the merit in regional cooperation to solve problems that crossed jurisdictional lines. “George recognized the value of MARTA and the Atlanta Regional Commission at a time many metro Atlantans worried about losing local control,” Isakson said.
In addition to serving on the MARTA board for two decades and chairing it in 1988, Ivey was a board member of the ARC and an adviser to the Fulton County Board of Education. He also co-founded the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce.
“If you had aspirations to become an elected official in Fulton County, the first person you needed to see was George Ivey,” Isakson said.
Ivey long yearned to be a farmer, said his son, George Ivey III of Buford. During the 1960s George Ivey Jr. began in earnest to raise cows and chickens and sell milk and eggs produced on property he owned in north Fulton. Never one to pass up a good deal, he sold the land years later to developers who turned it into the famed Atlanta National Golf Club.
His first wife of 49 years, Julia McCarty Ivey, died in 1992. His second wife of 20 years, Julia Mitchell Ivey, died in 2013. Additional survivors include another son, L. Gregg Ivey of The Rock; a sister, Betty Saladna of Marietta; a brother, Billy Ivey of Atlanta; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.