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Feb/March 2005

Inside the Perimeter
A Guide to Intown Neighborhoods
by Marie Lee

Atlanta's Midtown offers urban conveniences without sacrificing green space. Photo: ACVB.

Trying to find the perfect neighborhood to call home can be daunting for both locals and newcomers alike, especially in a city like Atlanta that offers such a wide choice of communities and lifestyles. Deciding where to stake your claim requires the consideration of many factors–proximity to workplace, school districts for the kids or convenient access to interstates, to name just a few. But with a bit of help, you can find a neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle, personality and needs.

Thanks to Atlanta's increased urban revitalization, combined with the benefits of decreased commute time, more and more people are choosing to move Intown, the area inside the I-285 perimeter.

City Living
Ever wish you could grab a carton of milk or a box of cereal without having to jump in your car and drive to the nearest grocery store? As of late, a significant number of Atlantans have abandoned the car-oriented suburban lifestyle to reside in the city where precious time is not wasted on hour-long commutes. High-rise condos, luxury lofts and renovated historic homes all dot the Peachtree Corridor, starting with Buckhead's stylish affluence, stretching to the hip, yet down-to-earth sensibility of Midtown and reaching into Downtown's urban chic dwellings.

As the stomping grounds for old money families and up-and-coming young professionals, Buckhead is famous for its buzzing, yet elegant surroundings. Known for high-end restaurants, bustling clubs and stellar shopping districts, Buckhead is a top destination for both locals and visitors.

If you live in the neighborhood, home can be a touch-the-sky high-rise condo building like ParkLane on Peachtree or the B uckhead Grand.

Residential houses are also an option in Buckhead's Northwest end, where tree-lined streets are full of cute-as-a-button cottages and traditional brick homes. According to Carter Bell, a Harry Norman Agent, the Collier Hills area homes are renovated cottages and bungalows priced from $350s to $450s while Hanover West, one of Buckhead's few swim/tennis communities, is a prime location for families with school-aged children. Prices there range from $500s to $800s.

The young and the hip relocating from a big city are often drawn to Midtown because of its new-school vibe: old brick homes converted into apartments, coffee shops, restaurants and bookstores around the corner–it's an urbanite's dream. Lots of families also call Midtown home, enjoying urban conveniences without having to sacrifice green space, which is readily available at Piedmont Park where tennis courts, a central pond and athletic fields are enjoyed year-round. Midtown's convenient central location provides easy access to I-75/I-85 as well as to Atlanta landmarks such as the High Museum and the Fabulous Fox Theater.

Downtown Atlanta. Photo: GDED
Midtown's renovated historic bungalows and houses have charmed Atlantans to the point where prosperous professionals will happily agree to the high-end price tags. The Myrtle/Penn district homes in the heart of Midtown can fetch a pretty penny to the tune of the $600s, while the outskirts of Ansley Park offers more affordable homes in the $250s range. Those looking for high-rise living in Midtown can turn to condos like Park Central on Juniper Street or the soon to be completed, Spire.

As is the case with most major cities, Atlanta's Downtown area was considered a business/tourist district for years. But since the 1996 Olympics, downtown Atlanta has become quite the metropolitan area. Big name hotels, an interesting mix of restaurants, cabs lined up to whisk you away--it's all there. Nearby are cultural attractions at world-class venues like Philips arena and the Georgia Dome. And alternative destinations like the Tabernacle concert hall or the Rialto Theater are just a walk away. These appealing characteristics of the downtown district attract artistic types, who are drawn to the Fairlie-Poplar area and the historic William Oliver condos, as well as 60-hour work week business professionals, who find solace in the beautiful high-rise Peachtree Towers.

Neighborhood Charm
One of Atlanta's most popular and well-known intown neighborhoods today, Virginia-Highland was once an economically challenged and desolate area. These days, college professors, lawyers and other white-collar professionals flock to the neighborhood whose prices have gone up rapidly with the city-bound trend. Homebuyers are taking less-than-fabulous houses and turning them into contemporary yet cozy home-sweet-homes. Atlantans from all over the city come here to enjoy ethnic dining possibilities, as well as the strong local music scene in the pubs. For the early risers and nature lovers, nearby Freedom Park provides idyllic surroundings for relaxation and exercise.

Virginia-Highland. Photo: GDED
Another area quickly filling up with renovation-happy people is East Atlanta. Home to an eclectic and artistic community with an unconventional and relaxed vibe, residents include young professionals and families joining the "fixer upper" renovation wave, older "empty-nester" residents who have lived in the same house for years, and lots of artists and musicians. Twenty years ago, East Atlanta was considered seedy and unsafe. Today, however, it draws significant numbers of people to its renovated, vibrant neighborhood with a flexible range of prices starting in the mid $100s.

With the influx of residents has come slow-but-sure economic growth, supported by local businesses and dining hotspots. Though changes in the neighborhood are drawing white-collar professionals by the dozens, East Atlanta still retains its founding "urban pioneer" flair.

Also on the east side is the quiet college town of Decatur. Agnes Scott College and Emory University both bring lots of college students and faculty members to its neighborhoods. The jewel of Decatur is its quaint downtown square, home to the county court system, a MARTA station, restaurants and boutiques. Though the expected historic bungalows are here, Decatur also has more contemporary condos in the square and in the Emory area. One such example is the Clifton. These condos, starting in the mid $200s, are located within walking distance of Emory and posses a stately English manor atmosphere. Decatur residents can head into the city with easy I-85 access or get on the sidewalk and walk to Lullwater Park, a grassy retreat located on Emory's campus.

Special thanks to Atlanta Intown Real Estate Services (404-881-1810) for their help and guidance with this article.






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