Sprawling estates line historic West Paces Ferry Road, a manicured thoroughfare reserved for Atlanta's elite doctors, lawyers and what's left of the city's old money.
After a few miles of iron fences twisted to look more like gaudy jewelry than barricades, the street joins Peachtree and Roswell roads in the heart of Buckhead where, until recently, music pumped late into the night for single professionals and rowdy students looking to get down and dirty.
But all that has changed now that some in the area have decided it's time for a neighborhood face-lift. Soon enough, major surgery will raze such Buckhead staples as Fado's Irish Pub, Tongue & Groove and CJ's Landing.
Stephanie Ahrens, a construction sales associate for Stock Building Supply, a major contributor to the operation, says CJ's Landing and Tongue & Groove will be demolished before summer's end.
"[The company] hasn't officially announced the plans for that area, but if I had to guess, that would be a condo development."
Buckhead's newest addition, the St. Regis, already has sold its top three condos to some of Atlanta's biggest names, including Home Depot co-founder and the man behind the Georgia Aquarium, Bernie Marcus, Ahrens says.
New money and big names might be great for Buckhead. Congested roads and looming high-rises might not.
Rick Ruiz purchased his Grandview Condominium on Lakeside Drive near Lenox Square for the view.
"Nothing beats looking out into the city at night standing on my balcony," he says.
But mega-projects such as City Place at Buckhead, a chain of high-rise mixed-use buildings filled with luxury retail stores and thousands of residential units, could threaten his expansive (and expensive) view.
"It seems like a very ambitious project, which if built, means I would lose my city views and the traffic could, at best, be horrific on Lenox and Roxboro. I'm hoping that this upscale development will be more of a blessing and not a curse to the Lenox area."
Allyson Perkins moved to her cozy home at Chastain Park Condominiums after she discovered affordable housing on Buckhead's northern fringe near Roswell Road and Chastain Memorial Park.
"I realized as soon as I moved here [that] everything's gone," Perkins says. "That was disappointing at first." But Perkins has high hopes for Buckhead's makeover. "I feel like everyone is going to return after it's back," Perkins says. "I don't see Buckhead ending the party anytime soon."
THE ESSENTIALS ON BUCKHEAD
TRANSPORTATION: I-75 runs along Buckhead's west edge and connects with West Paces Ferry Road. Ga. 400 takes Buckhead's east edge and runs out to the Perimeter. MARTA (404-848-5000, www.itsmarta.com) services Buckhead with its North-South rail line, which runs along East Paces Ferry Road to the Lenox Square shopping center and northeast into Chamblee. MARTA Bus Route 23 takes passengers on Peachtree Road to Lenox Square; Route 38 runs along Piedmont Road turning onto Pharr then Peachtree roads; Route 47 follows Lenox Road until it crosses Peachtree Road at the Lenox Square shopping center.
HOUSING: Aside from West Paces Ferry's multimillion dollar mansions, Buckhead housing consists mainly of condos and apartments. Alexan Buckhead on Pharr Road rents studios starting at $800 a month, and one and some two bedrooms from $930-$1,500 per month. Grandview Condominiums is within walking distance of Lenox Square and offers a wide range of homes. Lower-level one-bedroom/one-bath homes go for around $130,000. A few floors up, two-bedroom/two-bath homes are listed at $215,000. For top-level floors, home buyers can expect to shell out about $1.2 million.
NEIGHBORHOOD HIGHLIGHTS: East Andrews (56 E. Andrews Drive, 404-869-1132) remains a haven for Atlanta party-goers with large, open spaces, tented bar areas and an upstairs live-music venue open until 4 a.m. A few doors down, Souper Jenny (56 E. Andrews Drive, 404-239-9023) packs in the lunchtime crowds hungry for turkey chili or a wild mushroom and goat cheese baguette. The Atlanta History Center (130 W. Paces Ferry Road, 404-814-4000) boasts a 30,000-square-foot museum, as well as the 1928 Swan House Mansion and the Tullie Smith Farm.
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