There was a time in the last decade when Atlanta’s Downtown district was home to only banks, businesses, Rich’s and Macy’s main stores, and a small handful of decent places to eat. What a difference an Olympics can make!
The city’s 1996 efforts to spruce up and restore an aging business district, anchored by the Five Points intersections of Marietta, Peachtree, and Decatur Streets, not only attracted new entrepreneurs but also captured the attention of a new wave of urban pioneers. Abandoned office buildings, stores, even old apartments took on new life as lofts whose main attraction was their location near Centennial Olympic Park, Underground Atlanta, and hundreds of employers. As residents returned, so did the restaurants, the corner coffee shops, and, to limited extent, the shopping conveniences usually found in residential neighborhoods. Areas once deserted after 6:00 P.M. now are places where residents jog, walk their dogs, and stroll to dinner. Not far from Five Points, just beyond the park, the warehouse area of Castleberry Hill has become one of the hottest loft markets. Former industrial complexes have been revitalized as the Nexus and King Plow Arts Centers, which include studio and residential space for artists, a theater, and an upscale restaurant. And the city council has formed a loft development task force to facilitate the renovation of old Downtown properties into modern living and working spaces.
Initially, most of Downtown’s restored living space was rented as apartment-lofts. But in the last 3 years, the majority of the units, boasting high ceilings, oversized windows, hardwood floors, and exposed pipes, have been converted to condominiums, selling from about $150,000 to $500,000.
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