The Total Trifecta How Live-Work-Play Communities Have Become One of Metro Atlanta’s Biggest Draws
It’s no secret that Atlanta is known for its sprawl. For years, accessing the many wonderful resources available throughout the metro area—from the perfect home to first-rate office space to excellent shopping options and entertainment venues—required getting in the car to travel between all of your preferred destinations. But the times, they are a-changin’, and the live-work-play concept recently has become one of the most coveted and embraced development initiatives in the ATL.
It’s a trend born out of new urbanism, a burgeoning design movement that encourages the development of walkable, eco-friendly neighborhoods that offer everything you could want within just a few blocks. That shift towards the establishment of mixed-use communities has exploded in the metro area, with live-work-play districts popping up seemingly everywhere. And that’s what makes Atlanta so unique when it comes to this trend: these mixed-use developments can be found not only within the city limits, but also farther out in the more suburban centers of the area. Here, KNOWAtlanta Magazine shines a spotlight on some of the most sought-after live-work-play communities in and around Atlanta—one of which you may just want to call home.
5755 S. Vickery Street
Cumming, GA 30040
Nestled in Cumming in the heart of Forsyth County, Vickery Village is recognized as one of the first live-work-play communities in the metro area. The 230-acre mixed-use development, which received the Gold Award from Best Suburban Smart Growth Neighborhood in 2006, boasts energy-efficient condos, townhomes and single-family residences marked by nearly 75 acres of green space and parks and surrounding a bustling commercial center called The Village.
“Vickery Village is a well-rounded community,” says Mark Murgash, owner of the Vickery Village shopping center. “Other than a full-fledged grocery store, everything you need is within walking—or golf cart—distance. Living within Vickery Village is not only convenient, but also eco-friendly. By design, people are encouraged to shop locally and entertain themselves in their own backyard instead of driving 40 minutes away to find a nice restaurant or something to do on the weekend.”
Within The Village, residents have access to more than 162,000 square feet of commercial space, which features a variety of shops and boutiques, as well as restaurants ranging from the popular Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative to healthy grab-and-go or sit-down options. What’s more, 30 percent of the commercial space is dedicated to office tenants that offer an array of professional services, including medical, dental, real estate, engineering and consulting. The Village also hosts events year-round, from Cherry Street Brewing’s annual festival and summer movies in the courtyard to free Yoga on the Green classes and adult cornhole leagues from Cornhole ATL.
“People who live in Vickery usually do so because the uniqueness of the concept really strikes a chord for them,” notes George Wilson, head of the Vickery HOA. “Part of that unique concept is having a walkable, thriving commercial center. More importantly, Vickery was never designed to be an island unto itself—so The Village is that place where the neighborhood meets the larger community at its doorstep.”
Today, the bond between the residential side of the community and The Village is stronger than ever, with both enjoying mutual success. And the popularity of the development continues to grow. “Vickery Village has the type of small-town charm that makes you forget you’re a short drive from the ninth largest city in the country,” Murgash observes. “You’re coming to a community—not just a shopping center.”
1380 Atlantic Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30363
On the scene since 2005, Atlantic Station is one of the metro area’s most well known mixed-used neighborhoods. Situated on the northwest edge of Midtown, the 138-acre development actually boasts its own exclusive zip code and encompasses an impressive range of residential, retail, office, dining and entertainment options. Yet, what really makes Atlantic Station—which was built on the former site of the Atlantic Steel Mill—truly stand out is the fact that it is constantly evolving and currently undergoing a number of significant updates and a repositioning initiative.
“We are in the middle of a half-billion-dollar transformation that will further enhance its attractiveness to residents, workers and tourists alike,” says Nick Garzia, director of retail leasing – southeast at property management firm Hines.
On the residential side, the development features townhomes, lofts above storefronts, multifamily apartment communities and high-rise condos across price ranges, including Atlantic, a spectacular high-rise condominium complex featuring art deco glamour and spacious residences. To that list, AMLI will soon develop a new 360-unit luxury rental building at 19th and Market streets, which is slated to open in 2021. In terms of retail, dining and entertainment options, the community is revamping its tenant mix with an array of new shops and restaurants, as well as a renovation of Atlantic Station’s Regal Cinemas (with the first 4DX theater in the southeast) and the addition of Bowlero, an entertainment concept with 30 lanes of bowling and state-of-the-art digital gaming. On top of that, more than 700,000 square feet of Class-A office space, including the T3 West Midtown project and Atlantic Yards, will be added to the development by 2020. And no one can overlook the 300 events held on the property throughout the year—many in Atlantic Station’s Central Park.
“Hines is committed to creating a unique sense of pride around the property through the ongoing transformation of adding visitor experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. The entire project is easily accessible from the highway and is very proximate to Downtown, Buckhead, Georgia Tech and Westside, making it an ideal location to live, work, shop, play, dine and be entertained,” Garzia says. “Our goal is to simultaneously evolve the original program and design [of the development], as well as fulfill its original vision. As intown density continues to rise, which is a trend and not a fad, the importance of Atlantic Station in the years to come is only going to increase.”
290 Heatherden Avenue
Fayetteville, GA 30214
Situated on 234 exquisite acres of bucolic farmland just south of Atlanta in Fayetteville, Pinewood Forest grew out of the success of Pinewood Atlanta Studios, a one million-square-foot film production campus located directly across the street. The concept for the ensuing mixed-use development was to provide a community for the more than 4,000 employees of the studio, as well as others in the industry—but it has become so much more.
“The original idea was to create a community that was planned around the ecosystem of the film industry. But it has become a cluster for creatives,” says Rob Parker, president of Pinewood Forest, LLC. “This is now a community for storytellers and artists.”
Pinewood Forest, which ultimately will feature 600 single-family homes, 100 townhomes and 600 multifamily apartment units, is in phase one of its residential construction; all 1,300 geothermal homes should be completed within 10 years. During that time, the developers also will complete the European-meets-Southern-inspired Town Center, a 25-acre district that includes everything residents could want within a short walk, such as 12 chef-driven restaurants, more than 70,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, a Piedmont Wellness Center, a boutique hotel, collaborative working space and traditional amenities like pools and sports courts, among many other amenities. The community also features The Forest School, a micro-school that speaks to the educational needs of highly creative children. What’s more, over 50 percent of the community has been dedicated for green space, a wetland preserve and boardwalks that traverse the property, helping Pinewood Forest maintain its rural feel while offering an array of coveted urban features.
“With Pinewood Forest, we wanted to answer the question, ‘Is there a better way to live?’ We looked at how people thrive, how they flourish. We considered happiness factors, and we have built all of that into this community,” Parker concludes. “It’s pretty remarkable. Beauty is built into everything here.”
400 Avalon Boulevard
Alpharetta, GA 30009
When Alpharetta was named the fastest growing large city in Georgia in 2017, it undoubtedly owed some of that credit to Avalon, an 86-acre, sustainably designed, award-winning mixed-use community conveniently located off of Georgia State Route 400. Officially opened in late 2014, Avalon is the epitome of live-work-play excellence, offering 500,000 square feet of retail with beloved brands and best-in-class shops, a conference center and full-service hotel, two Class A office buildings totaling 475,000 square feet of space (attracting such companies as Microsoft and Axis Reinsurance Company), 20 chef-driven restaurants and both single-family and luxury rental homes.
“The biggest benefit of living at Avalon is having everything you need right at your front door,” says Cayley Mullen, marketing and hospitality manager for Avalon. “Residents can truly experience a live-work-play atmosphere without ever having to get in their car.”
Residential offerings at Avalon include Haven and Veranda, two luxury loft apartment communities with one- and two-bedroom options ranging between 800 and 1,500 square feet. The development also features Avalon Homes by Monte Hewitt, a collection of 25 single-family and 75 courtyard-attached residences with open floor plans and flexible spaces. Upon becoming an Avalon resident, renters and owners can take advantage of Club Avalon, a unique concierge service that provides access to everything from complimentary restaurant delivery and car wash services to personal chefs and personal stylists. Additionally, Avalon hosts more than 220 events throughout the year, including live music, outdoor fitness classes, luxury car shows, holiday events and more.
“The entire destination is infused with resort-level hospitality throughout its walkable, seamlessly connected community of shopping, dining, entertainment, living and working,” Mullen notes. “It’s more than just a place to go. It’s a place to be—a hub of local art and activity that delivers the luxury of the modern South.”
And Avalon has become a go-to spot, welcoming more than nine million visitors annually. It also has brought a huge economic boost to the surrounding community, attracting new companies, jobs and additional development to Alpharetta. “Avalon emerged as the first ‘urbanburb’ in the Southeast in 2014 and has since become the gold standard for urban, mixed-use communities in suburban markets,” Mullen observes. “Our goal at Avalon is to continue being North Fulton’s ‘third place,’ a true community destination where families, friends, coworkers, neighbors and visitors can come together to create new traditions and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Ponce City Market
675 Ponce De Leon Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
The transformation of Atlanta’s former Sears, Roebuck & Company building into Ponce City Market breathed new life into the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood in 2014. The 2.1 million-square-foot building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as the Southeast’s largest brick edifice, is now home to one of Atlanta’s most beloved mixed-use developments.
“Throughout our revitalization efforts at Ponce City Market, we’ve strived to preserve the building’s historic integrity while also fostering a live-work-play environment for visitors, employees and residents alike,” says Michael Phillips, president of real estate investment and management company Jamestown, the organization behind the restoration. Today, Ponce City Market boasts outstanding retail offerings, world-class dining options and a gourmet food hall, 550,000 square feet of Class A office space and the FLATS at Ponce City Market, a collection of 259 move-in ready, LEED-certified residential lofts. It also features one of the most distinctive amenities of any mixed-use development: The Roof at Ponce City Market, which includes a mini golf course, a full-service restaurant and beer garden and Skyline Park (a full amusement park with boardwalk-style games and rides), among other offerings.
“We have been humbled by the community’s positive response to Ponce City Market as they have adopted it as a new community hub along the Atlanta BeltLine,” Phillips states. And that strong connection to the community is further solidified by an array of Jamestown’s unique initiatives, including allocating 20 percent of the building’s residential units to affordable housing. Furthermore, the development recently began collaborating with Atlanta Luxury Rentals to offer short-term rentals of Ponce City Market’s fully furnished and wholly renovated studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, which now are available for a minimum of three days or up to several months.
A truly iconic location, Ponce City Market brings everything under one roof while maintaining its ability to be one of Atlanta’s most beloved landmarks. And with easy access to public green space and a pedestrian network along the BeltLine corridor, the building is the quintessential mixed-use development
4330 Peachtree Road NE
Brookhaven, GA 30319
What started as a smart growth project for the City of Brookhaven has become one of the most renowned urban villages in the metro area. Town Brookhaven, which is located on Peachtree Road just north of Buckhead’s Lenox Square Mall and Phillps Plaza and adjacent to Oglethorpe University, is now a 54-acre live-work-play treasure that offers the perfect blend of retail, dining, services and living options.
“Town Brookhaven is a one-stop shop that really has something for everyone,” says Caroline Peek, director of marketing. “It is a walkable, pedestrian-friendly development that is a great gathering spot for Brookhaven residents and beyond. You can grab a bite to eat with your family, go on a date night, catch a movie, shop for the latest trends, purchase shoes and apparel, get a massage or manicure or even attend a fun outdoor event.”
More than 50 local, regional and national merchants call Town Brookhaven home, as do a wide variety of fast casual and table service restaurants. Office space within the development is at capacity with professional service providers that offer everything from dental care to real estate assistance. Additionally, Town Brookhaven features nearly 1,000 upscale residential apartment units across three distinct communities: The GoodWynn at Town Brookhaven, Windsor at Brookhaven and 1105 Town Brookhaven. Between the three complexes, residents of all ages—and particularly young professionals and empty nesters—are taking advantage of the opportunity to live in complete luxury with access to everything they could need or want just moments away.
According to Peek, local response to Town Brookhaven has been very supportive and encouraging thanks to the wide variety of merchants and events that are now available within the community—and the attraction continues to grow. “The community has reacted positively to the sense of place that has been created,” she says. “And we will continue to bring strong retail offerings and events to the center that cater to the community and make people want to visit.”
Nature meets connectivity at HALCYON, a brand new mixed-used village located in Forsyth County at the trailhead of the Big Creek Greenway. Spearheaded by RocaPoint Partners, the $370 million live-work-play community is currently under development and slated to open on March 23, 2019.
“Envision a village where you can relax and enjoy,” states Phil Mays, principal at RocaPoint Partners. “HALCYON isn’t a destination, but an idyllic village: a place for those walking along the Big Creek Greenway to stop by for a beer at Cherry Street Brewing, wine at MidiCi or a bite to eat from Butcher & Brew; a place for residents to grab ice cream at Kilwin’s and enjoy it in the open spaces; a place to have a spa day at Allure Nail Bar or grab a gift from Lizard Thicket. The carefully curated retail mix and design of HALCYON encourages current and future residents of the Forsyth County area to linger and relax.”
In addition to such amenities as retail shops and boutiques, restaurants, the county’s only Market Hall and a dine-in movie theater, HALCYON will feature 225,000 square feet of creative loft-style office space and pet-friendly, Wi-Fi-enabled pocket parks throughout the development. On the residential side, the community will boast a unique collection of single-family residences and townhomes from Monte Hewett Homes and Edward Andrews Homes, as well as Elan HALCYON, a 300-unit luxury apartment community located adjacent to the restaurant village. There also will be a 160-unit 55+ active adult rental community on the property.
“For HALCYON, we want to deliver a unique, nature-centered experience for residents that encourages them to stay longer and enjoy more shopping, dining and relaxing outdoors. HALCYON will be the place where family members and friends gather for moments, big and small, and it’s the place where there’s something new to discover around each corner,” Mays concludes. “Everything at HALCYON is intentional, from the art being created for the buildings to the seating provided amidst the green space. We want to create a unique experience for visitors, residents and employees through our tenants, design and programming that will spark creativity, joy and happiness in each person that visits.”