Ponce City Market developer breaks ground on second phase

Credit: Handel Architects

Credit: Handel Architects

Wood-framed office building, apartments and ‘hospitality living tower’ planned along Beltline in Old Fourth Ward

The developer of popular Atlanta Beltline attraction Ponce City Market said Tuesday it has broken ground on its second phase, a little more than a month after withdrawing its request for a property tax break.

Developer Jamestown Properties said the project will include a timber-framed office building, new retail space and a 163-unit apartment building for residents 55 and older. Another anchor will be a 21-story “hospitality living tower,” or essentially a 405-unit residential high-rise with hotel-like services for short-term and extended stays that will be a first-of-its-kind in Atlanta.

“The line between Airbnb and hotels, short-term and long-term rentals, is blurring,” Jamestown President Michael Phillips said in a news release. “People want the flexibility of short-term rentals with the service of a hotel.”

Phillips called Ponce City Market, which opened in 2015, “a vibrant centerpiece to Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.”

“We look forward to building upon that legacy of innovation, urban renewal and neighborhood connectivity as we embark on the property’s next chapter and set a new standard for dynamic mixed-use environments,” he said in the release.

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

Jamestown acquired the hulking former Sears warehouse along Ponce de Leon Avenue from the city of Atlanta a decade ago. At the time, the building was known as City Hall East. Jamestown converted it into a thriving mix of apartments, shops, restaurants and offices popular with tech firms.

The Beltline is a 22-mile loop of trails, parks and future transit around the city core that’s become a magnet for redevelopment. Ponce City Market is the highest-profile project on the Beltline and helped kick off hundreds of millions of dollars in development on the Eastside Trail.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Twice in recent months Jamestown sought a 10-year tax abatement from the Development Authority of Fulton County. But each time the developer withdrew its request because of lack of support from the board. Critics blasted the tax break requests as would-be giveaways for one of the city’s most popular attractions, and said the idea flew in the face of how the Beltline was supposed be funded through new taxes from new development.

In February, after withdrawing its request for a smaller $5.4 million tax break, Jamestown said it would move forward with its plans to build a second phase without the incentive, though some details of the project would change.

But the project described in a news release Tuesday appeared to be substantially the same as earlier iterations.

In its news release, Jamestown said the buildings are designed with “sustainability and wellness” as their focus and will target net zero carbon operations.

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

Jamestown said the project will include 16 apartments with subsidized rents reserved for people making 60% of the area median income, or about $52,000 for a family of four. That threshold of affordable housing, or an alternative of 15% of units at rents affordable for people making 80% AMI, are required under city zoning for the Beltline area.