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Dec./Jan. 2007

Why Atlanta is a Great Place to Live—Now More
than Ever
Trends, Events and A Look Ahead at 2007
by Avery Thibadeau

The hallmarks of the world’s greatest cities—sophistication, culture, architectural splendor, fine dining and a see-and-be-seen nightlife—are not generously granted or successfully emulated. Such features are beloved in the nation’s most high-profile destinations—New York, Chicago, L.A. And Atlanta has undoubtedly joined their ranks.

Home to businesses such as Delta, Coca-Cola, UPS, and Home Depot, Atlanta ranks third in the nation for Fortune 500 company headquarters. People and offices are moving in, reversing the past rush for the suburbs. Atlanta is growing up—literally. It isn’t just the climate that is attracting people; as Atlanta grows, it is changing in unprecedented ways, welcoming opportunity and innovation and redefining luxury. Here’s a look at Atlanta in 2007—a city on the rise.

Trump Towers Atlanta
High-Rise Highlights
Atlanta is experiencing a trend toward intown living, and the increasing intown population is resulting in an increasingly populated skyline of high-rise buildings, many of them luxury condominium towers.

With such rapid strides forward in population and development, Atlanta’s appeal is growing accordingly, and the city is attracting attention from the likes of real estate mogul Donald Trump. Working with Marietta’s Wood Partners and Dezer Properties, Trump will develop two towers in Midtown Atlanta, at the intersection of 15th and West Peachtree streets. Trump Towers Atlanta, at 30 and 40 stories, will consist of luxury residences, boutique retailers and restaurants with desirable proximity to the Woodruff Arts Center. A price point has not yet been set, but with luxury abounding, these residences will undoubtedly enter the market at top dollar. Construction is expected to begin early in 2007.

Southeastern real estate development firm Novare Group is responsible for numerous high-rise developments throughout Atlanta, in Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. The firm has already broken ground on several luxury high-rises, such as The Atlantic in Atlantic Station and ViewPoint in Midtown. Located near Centennial Park, TWELVE Centennial Park will be one of Downtown’s celebrated solutions to luxury living, with twin residential towers framing a boutique hotel.

TWELVE Centennial Park
Many of Atlanta’s newer high rise structures will offer their permanent residents the concierge services and amenities common to luxury hotels—they will, in fact, BE luxury hotels. Opening in 2008, the W Atlanta Downtown Hotel and Residences will feature 237 hotel rooms and 76 luxury condominiums. The pool, spa and fitness center will welcome guest and resident use alike, as will the hotel’s concierge, room service, housekeeping and valet. Atop this 28-story structure will be the city’s first hotel-topped heliport. Not a bad way to get around town during rush hour!

Where all the Lights are Bright—Downtown
With a growing numbers of luxury dwellers, Downtown attractions are expanding as well. Already home to Philips Arena, the Georgia World Congress Center, Centennial Park and CNN, Downtown is also now home to quite a lot of fish. Since the opening of the Georgia Aquarium in November of 2005, Atlantans and the city’s guests have flocked Downtown to view the world’s largest aquarium and more than 120,000 sea animals.

Eight million gallons of water is bound to make anyone thirsty, and when the new World of Coke opens in summer of 2007, a quick jaunt across the adjoining green space will grant the world’s number one selling soda drink. Discover the story behind Atlanta’s own Coca-Cola with new state-of-the art technology and story-telling techniques, and visit crowd pleaser “Taste of the World,” where visitors can sample international Coca-Cola products.

World of Coke
The area around Centennial Park will see a third museum in future years when the civil rights attraction opens. In its first stages of planning, the museum will celebrate Atlanta’s role in the civil rights movement and is intended to display the extensive papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Midtown Mile
Just down Peachtree Street, plans are being made to refashion approximately 14 blocks of this thoroughfare between North Avenue and 15th Street into a walkable, tree-lined shopping, dining and leisure entertainment district. Modeled after Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and New York’s Madison Avenue, Midtown Mile will eventually offer 1 million square feet of retail development. In partnership with numerous development companies, the Midtown Alliance is leading the efforts at updating and maintaining sidewalks and attracting major retailers. New properties such as Daniel Corporation’s 1010 Midtown, a 35-story high rise offering condominiums, retail and dining space and Novare Group’s Viewpoint are already in the works.

A City of Neighborhoods—What’s Old is New
There is certainly more to Atlanta than Midtown and Downtown, despite their growing popularity. Atlanta is a city of numerous neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and lifestyle.

Virginia Highlands is one of Atlanta’s most popular neighborhoods with its proximity to Midtown, quiet neighborhood streets and a trendy commercial strip, while Buckhead is the place to go for Atlanta’s hottest clubs and bars, upscale restaurants and designer shopping. But several intown neighborhoods are beginning to offer these traditional hot spots a run for their money as revitalization efforts take effect. These days, what’s old is new.

Attracting residents to its historic, stately homes, the growing West End neighborhood was designated a National Historic District in 2000. Home to Joel Chandler Harris’s Wren’s Nest, the neighborhood will soon feature a new shopping and residential center, Westside Village.

Once an industrial area, Castleberry Hill has now become an arts district, with unique galleries and fashionable coffee houses and bars. A neighborhood known for its lofts, the soon-to-open Castleberry Point mixed-use condominium development will blend the flatiron appearance of the neighborhood’s traditional structures with contemporary design.

East Atlanta has benefited from a concerted effort to attract new businesses and residents, and with communities like Glenwood Park, they have proved largely successful. The Old Fourth Ward has experienced similar growth. This formerly rough neighborhood, spotted with shotgun-style homes, bungalows and warehouses, is host to the internationally-known Carter Center and Martin Luther King, Jr. Preservation District, and more eclectic boutiques and dining hot spots set up shop every year.

Transportation—Getting in and around Atlanta
Cities grow where people can reach them. Let’s be honest, necessity and practicality do trump glamour and luxury, and perhaps the most significant hallmark of a great city is its system of transportation. Well situated for domestic and international travel, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) has long held the distinction of being “the world’s busiest passenger airport.” As a major connecting hub for destinations around the world, the airport is working hard at both cosmetic and structural improvement. Termed the largest public works project in Georgia’s history, the current 10-year airport development plan will utilize $5.4 billion in airport improvements and includes last year’s addition of a 9,000 foot runway, the highly anticipated Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. International Terminal and a consolidated rental car facility.
MARTA's The Peach
It’s a Breeze
Improvements in Atlanta’s public transportation system, MARTA, will have more people leaving their cars parked at home. With a new state-of-the art smart card fare system, the old station turnstiles and troublesome tokens will soon be a thing of the past. The new system, appropriately named “Breeze,” uses cards containing computer chips encoded with time-based passes, trips or a dollar value. The two types of cards, designed for the frequent and infrequent traveler, feature fare options, automatic loading capabilities and insurance against loss or theft.

Working to provide the service that Atlantans need, MARTA now offers one-bus service from Lenox Square Mall all the way down Peachtree to the State Capitol. This new bus service, aptly called The Peach, will provide its riders the opportunity to hop off at many of the city’s most popular locations along the way, such as the Fox Theatre and High Museum of Art.

Arts Appreciation
Along with an increasing intown population, the numbers in the greater metropolitan region are growing as well. To meet the swelling suburban ranks, Atlanta’s arts organizations are moving out to the ‘burbs. Look to Cobb County in September of 2007 for the opening of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, the first major performing arts facility built in Metro Atlanta in four decades. With plans for a 2,750-seat theatre, this centre will become the home of the Atlanta Opera, formerly headquartered in Midtown. An ideal venue for concerts, Broadway shows and ballets, the centre will pull a bit of the cultural spotlight away from the heart of the city.

The recently opened Dozier Centre for the Performing Arts in Kennesaw has already succeeded in this, attracting artists to its expansive dance and recording studios, concert hall and theater, and rehearsal rooms. A performance center and the home of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, this also serves as a major arts educational center, with classes in dance, theater, vocal and music performance and digital media.

Celebrity Cuisine
As Atlanta grows, celebrity spotting is becoming more and more common. A handful of celebrities have taken a vested interest in Atlanta—or at least in what they eat. These restaurants, owned or run by local and global celebrities, will undoubtedly play host to several of your favorite 2007 meals.

A hot spot for many of Atlanta’s trendiest is Justin’s on Peachtree, which has long attracted patrons with its two full bars, A-list crowd and, of course, its proprietor—musical artist and CEO of Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group Sean Combs, or Diddy. On the other end of the dining spectrum is Watershed Restaurant in Decatur. The creation of Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, this restaurant is a favorite for many with its fresh, hip and healthy food and open, urban décor.

Then there are the chefs who, due to their wizardry in the kitchen have become celebrities. Guenter Seeger, of Seeger’s in Buckhead, is one such example. After a globe-spanning career, Seeger opened a five-star restaurant for Atlanta’s most discerning diners in a small 1920s house, offering limited seating and a prix fixe menu.

Known as the host of Turner South’s “Home Plate,” Chef Marvin Woods is now heading up the kitchen as executive chef at Spice in Midtown. The restaurant is attracting crowds with Woods’ “new American” approach to food, which features Southern and Caribbean influences.

And of course there is Emeril’s. The restaurant of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, it has become a favorite for many Atlantans with its impressive wine tower and even more impressive—and satisfying—traditional Creole menu. Reflecting Atlanta’s own image, Emeril’s is a perfect blend of Southern culture and high-class sophistication.


Raphael, Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione,
An Unprecedented Event

Louvre Atlanta
With expansion in Atlanta’s arts, it’s no wonder the city has attracted the attention and the artwork of the world’s most famous museum, the Musée du Louvre in Paris. In an unprecedented partnership, hundreds of works of art from the Louvre’s collections will be exhibited at the High Museum of Art in Midtown. Built around specific themes, the exhibitions, which opened in October of 2006, will continue to rotate until 2009. Much of this art has not left Paris in hundreds of years, and this headline-making exhibition will allow visitors to see many of the world’s artistic masterpieces in a manageable, easy-to-view-in-one-day display. Through September of 2007, enjoy The Royal Collections, a series of exhibitions featuring paintings, drawings, sculptures and decorative arts collected by France’s kings. Beginning in October 2007, pieces pertaining to the ancient world will appear in Atlanta in the exhibition’s second year.


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