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Dec/Jan 2005

On the Rise in Atlanta
High-rise Living
by Linda Marie Jones

The interiors of Metropolis exemplify urban sophistication.
Sometimes Todd Allmond, 39, misses having a yard. Then he looks out his window and sees traffic gridlock. He knows that those people on the highway awoke at least an hour before he did and will arrive home at least an hour later than he. "I'm a white picket fence kind of guy, believe it or not," he says. "I would love to move to the country and have a farm, horses-the whole thing." But, he came to the conclusion several years ago that as long as he has to work, he needed to live in town. "I commuted for 10 years," he says. "I will never, ever do that again. Life is too short." Not long ago he visited a friend who lives in a condo in a high-rise in Miami. "Everything was right there in the building or a short cab ride away," he says, "from good restaurants to entertainment." So when he returned to Atlanta, he began to look at high-rise living for himself.

The old saying in real estate is that the three most important qualities are location, location and location. That certainly holds true for people who want to live at least seven stories or more above the ground, although it may be the proximity of the building to work, restaurants, culture or shopping that holds the appeal. Diana Refsland, broker for Atlanta Intown Real Estate Services, has lived at Ansley Above the Park since 1988. "It was one of the first high-rise communities," she says. "Our front yard is Piedmont Park."

Spire is Midtown's newest spectacular high-rise.
Refsland says that life in a high rise is rich with activity. "People here are more likely to be participating in public life than people in the suburbs who are working in their garage or mowing the lawn." She says a major difference in a high-rise compared to other condominium communities is that high rises are built in high-density areas where entertainment and food are nearby, as well as access to mass transit.

Neighbors Pam and Paul Boushell agree. "We moved here from an apartment in Peachtree Hills eight years ago," says Pam. "Midtown is changing so fast. There are so many new shops and restaurants now. You can do all kinds of things and never get in your car." They love the accessibility of both the park and the neighborhood, and frequently see their neighbors enjoying it as well.

Asked for negatives about living in a high rise, the Boushells admit that occasionally, there will be a neighbor who is insensitive to others. "There are people who don't follow the rules," says Pam, "like jamming the trash chute or just being inconsiderate." But she hastens to add that for the most part, living in a high-rise is "very nice," and the differences in people only make it more interesting. Besides, thoughtless neighbors occur in subdivisions and apartment complexes everywhere.

Refsland agrees that not having complete control of your environment can take some adjusting. "Decisions are made by a larger group of people," she says, "But that is greatly outweighed by the benefits of being able to walk to shopping and restaurants."

Many of the older communities have a beauty salon, barber shop, dry cleaners or convenience store right in the building. The mixed-use concept expands on that, adding restaurants, retail offerings and entertainment. Colony Square, built in 1975, is the oldest mixed-use high rise in Atlanta. Dan Buccini, a realtor with Atlanta Intown, moved there three years ago from a house. "It's a mind-set," he says. "You have to get used to the fact that the car is down the hall to the elevator and down to the garage." He was tired of dealing with a lawn and especially enjoys being able to just lock the door and go out of town without worrying about anything.

Security is another amenity that high-rise dwellers relish and expect. Midtown and Buckhead have many high-rise and mixed-use communities with security features and both areas are seeing a boom in new construction. Just a few of the projects being marketed now are Metropolis, Eclipse, The Parklane on Peachtree, The View at Chastain, Plaza Midtown and Atlantic Station. Spire, which will begin selling in January, will have 393 condominiums with 21,500 square feet of retail space and is located right on Peachtree Street.

The 21-story Eclipse boasts spectacular views.
But locations for high-rise communities are not limited to the center of the city. "Atlanta is composed of so many market segments," says Janis Kirtz, president of Morris and Raper Realtors. "We have really not seen any problems with buyers for our products [properties]." Among those new markets are areas around MARTA stations. Morris and Raper are marketing the Cosmopolitan, actually termed a mid rise-or building between three and six stories high-located near the Lindbergh Center station between Midtown and Buckhead. At Perimeter Mall, due north and just outside I-285, Southeast Capital Partners is constructing a high rise called Perimeter Place Condominiums as part of a mixed-use development. The Dunwoody MARTA station will serve this area, as well as the Prescott, another development under construction at nearby Park Place.

Vinings is another popular shopping and entertainment area that will soon have One Vinings Mountain near the Cumberland Mall area in Cobb County. Developed by Trammell Crow, Managing Director John Bell says the building will have "the most panoramic view in Atlanta." The community will differ from others he says, in that it is designed less for first-time buyers and more for "move-down" buyers-couples who may now be child-free, but love the area. In addition to a pool, exercise facility and club area, amenities at this complex will include a garden room, meeting room, aerobics room, workshop area and an indoor golf driving range.

With so many communities to choose from in Atlanta, even a person who dreams of "white picket fences" can find satisfaction. Allmond returned from his visit to Miami determined to live at Atlanta's "ocean front." Although we don't have a beach, he says, we do have a view. His new home at the 21-story Eclipse in Buckhead has the view, as well as what he calls small-town living in the city. "I want to be able to walk to restaurants, cafes and all the things that I want to do, just like you used to in a small town," says Allmond.

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