Metro Atlanta Living: Old Fourth Ward— A rising phoenix

Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward (O4W) hasn’t always been known as a trendy, cool place to live. Despite having some of Atlanta’s best “cultural” institutions, including the boyhood home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the O4W fell into disrepair in the 1960s. It has often been associated with crime, prostitution, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure.

In the last 10 years, however, O4W has not only seen a resurgence in development, but property values are now at an all-time high. Because of the close proximity to pricey Midtown condos and Atlanta’s gorgeous Piedmont Park, there was a shift to start cleaning up O4W and renovate existing buildings to attract new businesses and development.

One of the star players of the resurgence of O4W was the development of the Atlanta BeltLine, which began as an idea in a joint master’s thesis paper for Georgia Tech graduate student Ryan Gravel’s Architecture and City Planning degree. He wrote it in 1999 with the idea to use the abandoned railroad corridors that surrounded the city and transform them into a 22-mile transit greenway that will add light-rail transit, parks and multi-use trails throughout 45 historic neighborhoods.

The idea was to generate economic growth, encourage environmental responsibility and improve the quality of life for residents in these neighborhoods. The eastern border of O4W is the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail that one can see as a pedestrian bridge going over Ponce de Leon Avenue at the new Ponce City Market, a mixed use development that now occupies the old Sears & Roebuck department store building. Today, it houses retail shops, office space, entertainment, restaurants, and a food hall with small vendors, boutiques and even residential units.

Housing development in O4W is steadily growing and sales are brisk. Some developers have taken small plots of land and used them to build small townhouses with 4-6 units. One such unit, a 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath townhouse at 616 Angier Avenue, sold last month in two days for $415,000 by my boss Justin Ziegler, president and associate broker of Common Ground Real Estate.

Low inventory and high demand are bringing multiple offers and bidding wars. For the buyers, trying to get in the neighborhood can be a difficult road.

“I have made an offer within two hours of something going on the market and offered 20 percent higher than the asking price and still lost,” said buyer Michelle Parker. “I keep losing to all cash buyers who don’t have contingencies. I feel like the values are rising even as I speak. I’m almost priced out of it. I’m going to have to start looking at other options. It’s a shame because I want to be near all of my favorite gay things.”