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Ponce City Market

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Title: Ponce City Market  
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Subject: Historic Fourth Ward Park, Old Fourth Ward, Gentrification of Atlanta, Sweet Auburn Curb Market, Virginia-Highland
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Ponce City Market

Ponce City Market tower, May 2012
Ponce City Market tower, May 2012
General information
Address 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE
Town or city Atlanta, Georgia
Country USA
Inaugurated 1926
Renovated 2011–2014
Owner Jamestown
Other dimensions 2.1 million sq. ft. (approx.)
Design and construction
Architecture firm Nimmons, Carr and Wright, Architects (Chicago)

Ponce City Market is a mixed-use development located in a historic building in Atlanta, with national and local retail anchors, restaurants, a food hall, boutiques and offices, and residential units. It is located where the BeltLine crosses Ponce de Leon Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward where that neighborhood touches the Virginia Highland, Poncey-Highland and Midtown neighborhoods. The 2,100,000-square-foot (200,000 m2) building, one of the largest by volume in the Southeast United States, was used by Sears, Roebuck and Co. from 1926–1987 and later by the City of Atlanta as "City Hall East". The building's lot covers 16 acres (65,000 m2). It officially opened on August 25, 2014.[1][2]



The building was built on the site of Ponce de Leon Springs, later the whites-only Ponce de Leon amusement park.

As Sears, Roebuck

  • From 1926 to 1979 it was a Sears, Roebuck and Co. retail store, warehouse and regional office[3] The Atlanta regional headquarters was closely linked to Sears' efforts to capture the market of Southern farmers through the Sears Agricultural Foundation:
    • From August 1926 until October 1928, the Foundation hosted a radio show, broadcast from the Atlanta Sears tower called “Dinner Bell R.F.D.”. R.F.D. stood for the club "Radio Farmers' Democracy. The show aired on WSB radio between noon and 1 pm three times a week, featuring old-time musicians and string bands[4]
    • Sears held a farmer's market at the back of the property starting in May 1930 through New Year's Day 1947[4]
    • In 1939, the market hosted the First Georgia Clay Products Show, which garnered an audience of 5,000[4]
    • The market established partnerships with local 4-H Clubs and Future Farmers of America clubs
  • In 1979 the retail store closed but the building continue operating as a Sears regional office until 1987.
City Hall East in 2007

As City Hall East

  • In May 1990[5] the city of Atlanta bought the building for $12 million, with plans to place 2,000 police and fire employees there, and later rent space out to county, state, and federal agencies. The city subsequently moved the central offices of its police department and fire department into the building. A city-funded art gallery was also established on the first floor.
  • From 1995 to 1999 the Southeastern Flower Show was held here.[6]
  • The building was closed to the public on March 29, 2010
Ponce City Market
Ponce City Market under renovation, May 2012

As Ponce City Market

The City sold the property for $27 million to Jamestown, Jamestown, a private-equity group, on July 11, 2011.[7] Jamestown, which also invested in the redevelopment of the White Provision retail and restaurant complex in West Midtown, bankrolled the 180-million-dollar plans by developer Green Street Properties to convert it into a mixed-use development [8] In a July 2011 interview, Michael Phillips, managing director of Jamestown, said that Jamestown is focused on Ponce City Market becoming the fourth nationally relevant food hall in the U.S., alongside Pike Place in Seattle, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, and Jamestown's own Chelsea Market in New York. Jamestown also plans rooftop gardens where local restaurants can grow food.[9] Jamestown plans to complete renovations by early 2014 and then have the building added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It was hoped that the new development, along with the new adjacent BeltLine trail and Historic Fourth Ward Park, would stitch together the four neighborhoods that meet where it is located and revitalize the Ponce de Leon Avenue corridor.[10][11]

In August 2012 a coffee house, Dancing Goats, opened in a temporary location at the southwest corner of the site in the renovated Sears auto service center building, which also houses the Jamestown offices.[12]

Ponce City Market officially opened on August 25, 2014 with "Binders, General Assembly, and the Suzuki School join[ing] Dancing Goats Coffee Bar as the first tenants…now open or…opening within the next three weeks… On September 22, Athenahealth, the building’s first office tenant, will move 200 employees into the space and food trucks will also be on site starting that day, and residents of the Flats at Ponce will move in October through January."[2]

External links

  • Official website
  • Official virtual tour website


  • Old pictures of the Sears building
  • "Largest Building in the South Opens on Ponce de Leon Avenue" "This Day in History" series, PBA (Public Broadcasting Atlanta) Online, orig. broadcast August 2, 2011
  • , Georgia State UniversityDixie Progress: Sears, Roebuck & Co. and How it became an Icon in Southern CultureJerry R. Hancock, Jr., - Photos of Sears Farmers' Market 1931 (see p. 61)
  • "Living History" - video remembrances of the historic building by local residents


  • , August 16, 2011New York TimesRobbie Brown, "Ambitious Plans for a Building Where Sears Served Atlanta",
  • , April 19, 2010Creative Loafing"The lost world of City Hall East: the mysteries inside Atlanta’s largest abandoned building", - slideshow of pictures inside the City Hall East of April 2010
  • Nick Kahler, "Ponce City: An Arcological Hierapolis for the Fountain of Youth," GA Tech Masters in Architecture Thesis, Spring 2012: A Theoretical Architectural Proposal for the Redevelopment of the Sears Building as a City within the City of Atlanta


  1. ^ "The gates are coming off", Ponce City Market site
  2. ^ a b "Ponce City Market is Now Open", What Now Atlanta
  3. ^ , June 1, 2010Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Timeline: Old Sears building, once a boom, then a bust",
  4. ^ a b c , Georgia State UniversityDixie Progress: Sears, Roebuck & Co. and How it became an Icon in Southern CultureJerry R. Hancock, Jr.,
  5. ^ , June 2, 1991The New York Times"National Notebook: Atlanta; Sears Center bought by city",
  6. ^
  7. ^ , July 1, 2011pbaonline"Mayor Signs Closing Documents on Sale of City Hall East",
  8. ^ , June 29, 2011Atlanta Business Journal"Slideshow: Jamestown reveals Ponce City Market",
  9. ^ magazine blog), July 18, 2011Atlanta (ATL Food Chatter"Jamestown’s Michael Phillips on Ponce City Market",
  10. ^ , June 1, 2010Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Landmark Sears building still faces hurdles",
  11. ^ Ken Edelstein, "Green Street, Jamestown hope to close City Hall East deal this month", Green Building Chronicle, 2011-03-03
  12. ^ , Amy Wenk, August 9, 2012Atlanta Business Chronicle"Ponce City Market to welcome first tenant",
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