The Briarcliff Summit apartments, that hulking Jazz-era landmark at the northwest corner of Ponce de Leon and North Highland Avenues, is primed for some much needed renovations. Maine-based real estate investment firm Evergreen Partners Housing is heading up the work, and it can't come soon enough. The lone Google review sums up the current conditions succinctly, with its advice of “Do Not Rent” repeated ad nauseam - emphasis on the nauseam.
Things started out swimmingly for Briarcliff Summit. Its development was funded, like a lot of things in Atlanta, by the Coca-Cola money of the Candler family (Asa G. Candler, Jr., to be exact). The nine story structure of brick and decorative terra cotta opened as a luxury apartment building named “The 750” in 1925. It’s architecture was the work of G. Lloyd Preacher, who would go on to design Atlanta’s City Hall a few years later. But its heyday didn’t last very long; after the Depression, the building was converted to the 400 room Briarcliff Hotel. Fast forward a few decades and you have its present incarnation, as Section 8 living space for the elderly.
An insightful 2006 Creative Loafing article detailed the squalid conditions that the residents of Briarcliff Summit have been experiencing for some time now. Broken elevators, clogged trash chutes, the presence of drug dealers, and homeless “visitors” who use the hallways as lavatories have plagued residents for years. Interestingly enough, it’s also mentioned that the building’s contract with HUD will expire in 2013, at which point the residents could be forced to move. However, it looks like the new owners are committed to keeping long-time residents in place.
Evergreen Partners is proposing a complete overhaul, with just about every surface refurbished and the addition of fitness and activity centers included in the plans. They’re set to seal the purchase agreement in late May with work starting soon after that. If all goes well it could be a win-win for everyone: enjoyable conditions for those living out their golden years, and the preservation of some age diversity on Ponce for the foreseeable future. It’s a nice balance to all those whippersnapping hipsters!