Patrick Saunders: The life of a unicorn

I am a unicorn, aka an Atlanta native. We are a rare, mythical breed, but lo and behold, we do exist.

It took me a while to really experience the city of Atlanta itself though. I was raised in the suburbs and, until my early 20s, the only time I made it downtown was for Falcons or Braves games.

But after graduating from UGA and a brief stay in Vinings, I came flying out of the closet and promptly moved to a condo on Cheshire Bridge Road. Now, you know how the Big Chicken is used as a beacon for people to recognize where other locations are around Marietta? On Cheshire Bridge Road, strip clubs and sex shops are used as the same beacons. It can get confusing though because you mention one to try and let people know where a certain bar or restaurant is and people get confused, so you have to keep saying, “No, it’s next to the other strip club … No, that used to be a strip club, now it’s a sex shop … No, next to the other sex shop.”

After several fruitful years on Cheshire Bridge, I moved a step closer intown, this time to Home Park. I love Home Park because it’s this little pocket of residential homes with actual trees and everything, which was a big change after going from dorm to dorm to apartment to apartment to condo and so on ever since starting college. Plus, it’s in the middle of everything and you have quick access to so many vibrant areas of town.

We explore many of these areas in this, our annual Real Estate Issue. This year, we’ve got local experts weighing in on their picks for the hottest neighborhoods in which to buy a home – and no, they are not all on the BeltLine and they are not all in the city of Atlanta. Speaking of buying a home, what’s that process like now nearly a decade after the collapse of the mortgage industry? Mortgage loan originator Michael Lappin is here to help break it down for you and settle any nerves.

And have you driven around Midtown lately (or attempted to, taking into account our interstates collapsing and such)? It seems like there’s a new development being built on every other block. We spoke to the Midtown Alliance to get the scoop on all of the projects currently under construction.

Plus, notable interior designer Robert Gaul clues everyone in on the latest tips and trends to make your place pop, and we spoke to a University of Georgia horticulturalist to walk us through container gardening to spruce up your patio.

Working on this issue has made me realize, yet again, why I love Atlanta. I can’t imagine looking back years from now and realizing I lived in (more or less) the same city my entire life, but it doesn’t look like this unicorn is leaving a trail of rainbows on the way out of here anytime soon.