The mammoth Sears, Roebuck & Co. building – known to most Atlantans as City Hall East – has officially been sold to Jamestown Properties.
In a rooftop ceremony last month, Mayor Kasim Reed handed over the keys to the development company, which plans to restore the 2.1 million square-foot property on Ponce de Leon Avenue as a mixed-use development named Ponce City Market. Jamestown purchased the property from the city of Atlanta through the Atlanta Development Authority for $27 million, including an initial $15.5 million payment at closing. The remaining balance will be paid to the city after the development achieves certain milestones.
The project represents a $180 million investment by Jamestown as well as a partnership between the firm and its sustainable development subsidiary, Green Street Properties. The project is expected to create construction jobs in the short term, while city officials estimate the deal will yield an economic impact of more than $1 billion over the next 10 years.
“I am pleased that we have completed the transaction on City Hall East,” said Reed.  “This sale gets a $600,000 yearly cost off the city’s books and removes the enormous liability that comes with owning and maintaining a 2-million-square foot building.”
Jamestown managing director Matt Bronfman said the redevelopment “will be significant through the creation of jobs, helping the local economy and engaging a prominent group of retailers inside the perimeter.”
Originally constructed in 1926 by Sears as a retail store, regional warehouse and catalog distribution center, the landmark is the largest brick building in the southeast. After Sears closed the retail store in 1979 and warehouse operations in the mid-1980s, the City of Atlanta purchased the property in 1991 for administrative offices and continued its partial occupancy until mid-2010.
The historic space will boast many original features, including refurbished hardwood maple floors, original steel windows and high ceilings. The structure’s current parking deck will be removed, exposing the original retail facade and some of the building’s interior space will be converted to a parking area.
Similar to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, the space will feature a food market, restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. There will also be a blend of national retailers and local businesses in 300,000 square feet of retail on the first two levels. The development also will offer up to 500,000 square feet of Class A office space and amenities, as well as several hundred multi-family residences for sale and rent.
In addition to revitalizing the building, Jamestown and Green Street will establish a network of walkable pathways and integrate elements such as crosswalks, access points to the Atlanta BeltLine and public green space.
Jamestown and Green Street will begin construction immediately and continue through early 2014, when Ponce City Market will open to the public.
For more visit to keep up with the progress of the development.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.