The historic Sears, Roebuck & Co building in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta had been largely empty for nearly a decade. Even as the Atlanta Beltline was breaking ground nearby, the abandoned brick building loomed large - graffitied and nearly forgotten even among a booming development. In 2011, the city of Atlanta sold the building to Jamestown - the same development group responsible for the Chelsea Market in New York City. With a grand opening set for Spring 2015, Ponce City Market is being heralded as “History in the making” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is set to revitalize the Ponce de Leon corridor.
City Hall East
Most longtime Atlantans have known PCM by another name - City Hall East. For nearly 20 years, government offices resided in the former Sears, Roebuck & Co building, but by the end of its tenure there was little more than a bank and a police precinct in the 2 million sq. ft space. In 2010, the building was closed to the public and sat completely empty for over a year - broken windows on every side.
In an article from the Creative Loafing called “The lost world of City Hall East,” they reveal that, even under the city’s ownership, no more than a third of the building ever saw use. Remnants from the Sears days were still in the maze-like basements, thousands of office chairs and mid-century gadgets stacked to the ceiling. The level of disrepair throughout the complex was immense. To see a truly bizarre slideshow of the items left behind, check out the article.
Making this building new again would be no easy feat - and all of us Atlantans knew it.
What Ponce City Market Means For O4W
The Atlanta Beltline’s development of the area provided a great starting point for bringing new energy into the historic neighborhood. Ponce City Market will be the anchor of this revitalization project, bringing in retail shops, offices, and a world-class food hall featuring renowned chefs. And what this ultimately means is more traffic into the area, more interest from out-of-towners (PCM was recently voted by Travel + Leisure as one of “The World’s Coolest Tourist Attractions”), and a new model for historic preservation all over the country. If New York City’s Chelsea Market is any indication of the potential, Ponce City Market is going to be one of the top Atlanta destinations for years to come.