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Hundreds of apartments and two office towers could replace some of the city’s long-standing and beloved nightlife hangouts and other small businesses along a busy stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue near the Atlanta Beltline’s bustling Eastside Trail.

During a Nov. 3 webinar, representatives from Portman Holdings unveiled preliminary plans to redevelop roughly four acres of prime real estate across the street from the Ford Factory Lofts, 725 Ponce office building, and Kroger.

The proposed development is named Ponce & Ponce for its location at the intersection of Ponce De Leon Avenue and Ponce De Leon Place.

The project includes constructing a 310,000-square-foot office tower with 13,000 square feet of retail; a 160,000-square-foot office tower with 12,000 square feet of retail; and a a 285,000-square-foot apartment building with 354 units plus 13,000 square feet of retail.

Other plans include replacing and widening the many cracked sidewalks surrounding the site to improve walkability. Adding a direct connection to the Beltline as well as creating green spaces are also planned.

Portman’s development partners are: ASD SKY, master and retail architect; Pickard Chilton, office design architect; Hord Coplan Macht, residential architect; DWG., landscape architect; and Kimley Horn, civil and traffic engineer.

Portman Holdings’ proposed site plan is divided into western and eastern parcels, divided by Ponce de Leon Place. Parking will be buried below grade, but number of spaces is still not known. (Portman Holdings)

Kate Culver, vice president of Development for Portman, said the project is still in the early stages, but plans are to file a rezoning request with the city for the Virginia-Highland property early next year. The rezoning process, which includes presentations to Neighborhood Planning Units, could take about six months. Detailed architectural drawings would begin only after the city approves the project. If all goes well, construction would start late next year and could be completed by 2026, Culver said.

The gritty area is well-known for neighborhood businesses including MJQ Concourse, Friends on Ponce, The Bookhouse Pub and The Local. Also on the site is the historic Paris on Ponce building that closed in 2019 after a massive fire. 8ARM restaurant also was on the site, but closed after learning the property was sold for new development, and there’s also a busy Chipotle. All these buildings will be razed for the new development.

Portman’s preliminary plans to improve walkability includes new, widened sidewalks and a connection to the Atlanta Beltline from the west parcel. (Portman Holdings)

Heights of the office towers are not finalized, according to Portman. The tallest tower would be built in the west parcel and is expected to be “slightly shorter” than the 12-story 725 Ponce, according to Portman. The office tower on the east parcel is expected to be two to three stories shorter. The apartment building is planned to stand seven stories where it fronts Ponce de Leon Avenue and then transition to about five stories where it backs up to the residences on Maiden Lane.

The apartment building will include “luxury” units, according to Portman, and rented at prices based on surrounding rental properties. Typical market rate rents for one-,two- and three-bedroom units at Ponce City Market are between $2,300 to $5,000.

Portman’s planned project is within the BeltLine Overlay District which requires at least 15% of the units be rented for at least 80% of the area median income or 10% rented at 60% AMI. A one-bedroom unit at 80% AMI is nearly $1,500 for a person making $54,000 a year; at 60% AMI, a one-bedroom unit is just over $1,000 for a person making $40,500. Portman said it would comply with the 15% AMI requirement or pay into the city fund for affordable housing.

Portman is holding another community meeting on the planned development on Monday, Nov. 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Bookhouse Pub, 736 Ponce de Leon Ave.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.