The Georgia Trust

2006 PLACES IN PERIL: PONCE DE LEON APARTMENTS

The Story: Located opposite the Fox Theatre at the corner of Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Avenue and Peachtree Street, the Ponce de Leon Apartments opened in 1913, a time when stately homes lined the intersection and Atlanta was rapidly expanding north along its streetcar lines. Most Atlantans are familiar with the building's two looming towers, but few know its importance to the city's architectural history. Designed by William L. Stoddart as a companion piece to his two-year-old Georgian Terrace Hotel across the street, the building is an example of the grand apartment trend of the early 20th century and displays classical elements of both the Beaux-Arts and Renaissance Revival styles. One of the city's first luxurious high-rise dwellings, the 11-story building housed Atlanta's first penthouse on the apartment roof, and visiting opera stars performing at the nearby Fox Theatre once attended moonlit parties on the apartment's rooftop terrace.

Threat: The Ponce has seen city residents come and go through its lobby for 92 years, and its story reflects the revolving door of the surrounding area as it has gone from an oasis for the affluent through the 1940s to a time when the wealthy started to escape downtown. During the 1970s, many floors with two large apartments were broken into smaller units to house less affluent residents moving into the area. The Ponce represents issues that many historic condominiums may face in the future. Following a condominium conversion in the early 1980s, the building’s owners now face deferred maintenance issues. The building needs significant rehabilitation and maintenance work to ensure it lasts into the future.

Solution: The building’s current owners recognize its historical and architectural significance at a time when more people consider moving to the nearby and once desolate SoNo neighborhood (South of North Avenue). The Ponce’s owners commissioned a building engineering study that resulted in a rehabilitation/repair plan for the building and hired a preservation architectural firm to work with an engineer.They are actively seeking sources of funding to rehabilitate the property for continued residential use.

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