Nov 16, 2022 - News

Portman Holdings' plan for Ponce gets town hall treatment

A site plan of a proposed mixed-use development that would replace Paris on Ponce and MJQ

Photo: Courtesy of Portman Holdings

A developer's proposed revamping of one of Atlanta's most popular and storied nightlife strips says the surrounding community will have a say in how the project takes shape. Wednesday night is an opportunity to do so.

Why it matters: Portman Holdings' vision for the properties sparked debate about gentrification, the long-term viability of local businesses and how much (or how little) cities should change.

Catch up quick: In October 2021, Portman executive Mike Greene tells Axios, the developer started talks with Matt Rohrig of Cartel Properties about 712 Ponce de Leon Place, his 46,000-square foot building facing the Beltline. The former home of Paris on Ponce has sat vacant since a 2019 fire.

  • Deals on properties across the street started falling into place after the longtime owners of the parcel including Bookhouse Pub and MJQ marketed their property a few months later, Greene says.

Before Portman put Paris on Ponce under contract, Greene says, the developer gave the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan a heads-up about the project to gauge their appetite for a mixed-use development on the land.

Details: On the property abutting the Beltline Eastside Trail, Portman's preliminary proposal calls for 310,000 square feet of office space and 13,000 square feet of retail. Across the street, the developer wants to build a total of 25,000 square feet of retail, 354 residential units and 160,000 square feet of office.

  • The ground floor of the former home of Paris on Ponce β€” Greene says it's in disrepair β€” would be broken up to create walkways to the Beltline and topped with a building.

Yes, but: Specifics are subject to change depending on neighborhood feedback, Greene says. "If they want something I'll try to do what I can to make it work," Greene says. "And we'll work until we get to a solution that everyone feels good about … I think there is a project that everyone can be happy with."

Zoom in: Greene says he understood the pushback from fans of the music venues and restaurants, noting his disappointment when The Masquerade moved out of its North Avenue home.

  • Some bars and restaurants are looking for new spaces when construction begins at the end of 2024 or planning to retire, Greene says. Chipotle wants to be a tenant when the development opens, he adds, and he’d like to see Bookhouse Pub remain.

What they're saying: "For the folks that don't live in the neighborhood but love their local bars, go. They're going to be open for two years," says Greene, who says he doesn't expect construction to begin until the end of 2024. "Go buy drinks at their bars. Help these dudes out and make money. Go visit."

What's next: The Virginia-Highland Civic Association will hold a town hall at the Virginia-Highland Church Wednesday from 6-8pm to discuss the project.


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