As Midtown and the areas that immediately surround are leading whatever sort of recovery Atlanta's real estate market is currently experiencing, Please Build Here has been drawn- like moths to the flame- to some of the marquee building sites there, in anticipation of the next round of development. Today we present what is arguably the most valuable piece of dirt (for its size) in the entire City of Atlanta, sitting on Atlanta's grand boulevard (Peachtree) at the entrance of one of Atlanta's grandest neighborhoods (Ansley Park) and across from perhaps Atlanta's grandest architectural specimen (Richard Meier and Renzo Piano's High Museum of Art). But 1301 Peachtree Road NE today exists as little more than a repository for dirt, weeds and rainwater. And were it not for the High using the fencing as a quasi-billboard, the plot would be a genuine eyesore from the street.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Atlanta mega-home builder/developer, entrepreneur and art-loving philanthropist John Wieland spent a reported $18.3 million assembling the parcel to build a spectacular condominium project called One Museum Place. Back in the good old days, plans called for the David Chipperfield-designed tower to contain 96 homes with price tags starting at $2 million, a restaurant, a gallery programmed by the High Museum and likely to include works from Wieland's own collection and other amenities geared toward well-heeled buyers. Then the bad times came, and with them an official announcement that the project was on hold.
Two and a half years later, the real estate community was jolted out of its slumber by an announcement that a group helmed by (a very serious looking) broadcasting executive named Alvin James had secured "European hedge fund" financing to purchase the land from Wieland and develop a luxury hotel on the site, with a small number of condominiums on top. Slated to open this spring, the $350 million project retained some vestiges of the original vision, notably an art gallery featuring Wieland's collection and named in his honor.
As evidenced by the photos above (taken last week), the hotel's opening has been delayed, perhaps permanently. We don't know what we don't know, but in spite of a picture of James with Steve Forbes and some very dated pictures of James with people like Donald Trump, Robin Leach and Oprah, the Alvin James Group does not necessarily look like they're going to be able to get this one across the finish line. We reached out to this developer of major luxury hotel projects for comment via their Yahoo! e-mail address, but have not heard back.
Whomever will do it and whatever will appear- Atlanta real estate development community we implore thee- Please Build Here!