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Downtown projects keep landmarks alive

Growing list of ‘adaptive reuse’ developments buck historic trend for city.

Atlanta doesn’t exactly have a reputation for sentimentality when it comes to landmark buildings.

Often for the worse, Atlanta tears down its antique buildings rather than preserve or adapt them for the future like so many other big cities do. That’s led to a skyline without many classics.

Now there are signs that’s changing, at least downtown.

Within the past few months, several ambitious re-use projects have opened or been announced in downtown alone. And these follow projects of recent years such as The Glenn Hotel (formerly an office building), the former Davison’s and Macy’s building on Peachtree Street and the rehab of the former Winecoff Hotel into what is now The Ellis.

Will the trend have legs? Certainly, the redevelopment of the former Sears warehouse/City Hall East into Ponce City Market has been a bonanza that may embolden others to make similar attempts.

Here’s a quick look at some of the new twists on older buildings debuting or soon to debut in downtown.

The Candler Building

Late last month, REM Associates and a development team, including Development Services Group and interior design The Beck Group, announced their plans to convert the classic Atlanta skyscraper into a Curio hotel, a luxury brand under the Hilton flag.

The 265-room hotel will feature oversized king, double queen and suite rooms. The chain said the main level of the hotel will feature the building’s Georgia-white marble grand staircase, original Tiffany windows, a restaurant and bar.

The Candler Building was developed in 1906 by Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler and was Atlanta’s first steel skyscraper. It is slated to reopen in late 2017.

Curio is part of an effort by Hilton and other big chains to compete with boutique hotels that have arisen in downtowns across the country.

The Flatiron Building

In December, the owners of Atlanta’s oldest skyscraper reopened the Flatiron Building as FlatironCity, including a Microsoft Innovation Center that city leaders hope will boost Atlanta’s technology credentials and cultivate new startup companies. It will offer startups rentable office space by the desk, room or floor.

FlatironCity also will serve as the home to the new city-backed incubator for woman-owned companies – the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. The incubator’s first round will include 15 women entrepreneurs.

250 Piedmont

Last year, developers reopened downtown’s 250 Piedmont building as an apartment tower known as The Office. The building had been a vacant and largely non-competitive office tower near the downtown Hilton hotel.

Now it’s a high end residential building with high ceilings, exposed mechanical systems stainless steel appliances.

The Olympia Building

The two-story building topped by the well-known Coca-Cola sign on Peachtree Street in downtown is in the midst of a conversion into a Walgreens pharmacy, complete with vintage signage.

Skanska, which is leading the construction team, has been tasked with retaining the building’s stone-clad walls and the Coke sign.

The Ivey & Crook designed building at Woodruff Park will open later this year after an estimated $10 million overhaul.

230 Peachtree

In January, famed Atlanta developer and architect John C. Portman Jr. and partners opened 230 Peachtree, which involved converting 11 floors into a 206-room Hotel Indigo and a fine dining restaurant called JP Atlanta.

The upper floors in the 27-story tower remain office space.

Portman designed and built the tower – the first in his landmark Peachtree Center development – in 1965.

“It was real estate development, but it was bigger than that,” an emotional Portman said at a ceremony to mark the reopening, speaking of his involvement with Peachtree Center. “Yes, I’m in love with Atlanta.”

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