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Curbed Cup 1st Round: (2) Old Fourth Ward vs. (15) Midtown

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Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

A photo of Ponce City Market in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward.
PCM in O4W.
Curbed Atlanta

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for Atlanta’s “Neighborhood of the Year,” is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours, so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. (Seeding from 1 to 16 was determined by reader nominations this month). Now, let the eliminations commence!

Old Fourth Ward (2)

The final 1st Round contest of this year’s Curbed Cup pits two contenders who are emblematic of Atlanta’s post-recession development frenzy. The difference is that Old Fourth Ward supporters took the time to nominate their favorite ‘hood, and thus the much higher seed. No wonder it was honored in 2017 as one of America’s 10 best neighborhoods.

Said one resident named Missy, who insists that breakneck development and rising home prices haven’t squelched O4W’s sense of community:

“Our neighbors all step up and help each other out. We go to games together, enjoy wine together, and walk the Beltline together. The new section of the Beltline is going in along with some cool new restaurants, bars, and shops. We have the old water tower, Studioplex (which even has a cool new ladies tattoo spa!), PCM, and Krog. You can't beat the activities, walkability, and neighbors of the Old Fourth Ward!”

Like Midtown, O4W is a magnet for national press when they spotlight Atlanta’s rise as a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, Southern powerhouse (or when they’re pointing out the displacement ills of gentrification). As expected, 2017 was another banner year for large-scale changes in O4W, with a new Beltline segment finally opening, the abandoned Civic Center and unsightly Georgia Power facility at Historic Fourth Ward Park changing hands, and high-profile projects such as Edge rising.

Elsewhere in 2017, this 2012 Curbed Cup champion added sky-high ice skating, but lost the LOUDHAUS mural and any semblance of single-family affordability.

Midtown (15)

No single place in Atlanta has developed/matured/densified/generally metamorphosed as much as Midtown lately. For the past couple of years, cycles of more than 40 major projects have consistently been under construction, or at the starting line of development, in this explosive submarket.

Shirtless volleyball in Midtown’s Piedmont Park, earlier this month.
Curbed Atlanta

Nevertheless, Midtown has been a perennially poor performer in this hallowed competition, having made the Final Four only once. (Perhaps Midtowners are too busy tossing bocce poolside, down on the amenities level?)

This year saw the topping out of Atlanta’s tallest tower in ages (along with a colossal mural by local artist HENSE) on 14th Street, and a section of Spring Street rendered unrecognizable by a cluster of high-rise architecture (which will soon include a dog park about 30 stories over the street). Meanwhile on Peachtree, lilli Midtown may have set a new bar for rental-stack aesthetics.

Elsewhere, at least three different food halls were announced in Midtown (including at Portman Holdings’ long-awaited Coda project, and another at Colony Square’s ambitious redo), while even non-high-rise Broadstone Midtown bagged an AIA award.

In other big news, the problematic Peachtree-Pine shelter closed on Midtown’s southern fringes, while the neighborhood was exalted into serious discussions about Amazon’s HQ2 potentially landing there.

And that’s the tip of the proverbial iceberg.