The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) presented its 18th annual Developments of Excellence awards the State of the Region breakfast on October 28, recognizing quality developments and places that keep the 10-county Atlanta region a desirable place to live and work.
The top award, the 2016 Development of Excellence, went to architecture firm Kronberg Wall, which creatively restored a historic church in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown neighborhood for its new offices. ARC also presented its first Developments of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award to John C. Portman, Jr. for his extraordinary vision as an architect, developer and community leader.
Other awards recognized a renovated park in Jonesboro, a retrofitted suburban shopping center in Smyrna, the Atlanta region’s three national parks and a landmark downtown Atlanta building that has been refurbished to house a Walgreens pharmacy.
Lifetime Achievement Award
John C. Portman Jr.
Architect & Developer
ARC presented its first Developments of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award to John C. Portman, Jr., an architect and developer whose groundbreaking projects helped define and energize downtown Atlanta and give the region its distinctive skyline. Portman designed and built AmericasMart, Peachtree Center, SunTrust Plaza and three iconic Atlanta hotels: the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the Westin Peachtree Plaza.
His company now works across the globe, with recent projects gracing skylines from Charlotte to Shanghai. But Mr. Portman leaves no greater legacy than today’s thriving downtown Atlanta community.
ARC Development of Excellence
Kronberg Wall Offices
Atlanta’s Reynoldstown Community
The historic Bearden Temple AME Church building, formerly St. Philip AME, has been a fixture in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown community since 1922. Long vacant, the 4,800 square foot church, made of sturdy Stone Mountain granite, has been reborn as headquarters of Atlanta architecture firm Kronberg Wall.
Located a short walk from MARTA’s Inman Park-Reynoldstown station and across the street from the Atlanta BeltLine trail, Kronberg Wall’s offices offer transportation options and access to surrounding neighborhoods.
The original 18 stained-glass windows have been restored and protected. The hardwood floors have been refinished, but still gently slope from the back of the former sanctuary to the front. Office furniture has been customized to accommodate the incline. The downstairs has been converted into office space, now occupied by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
Exceptional Merit for LCI Achievement
Lee Street Park & Amphitheater
City of Jonesboro
Each year, ARC presents an award to a community that is making strides in the implementation of its vision, crafted through ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI). The LCI program provides grants to help communities reinvent themselves as more vibrant, walkable and bike-friendly places.
This year’s winner is Lee Street Park and Amphitheater in Jonesboro. The formerly underutilized facility has been transformed into a popular destination, hosting thousands for concerts and other special events.
The 5.7-acre park connects the downtown commercial district to residential neighborhoods, the nearby GRTA park-and-ride lot, and Tara Boulevard. Adjacent to several schools, the park’s two stages, playground, and walking trail are perfect for large gatherings, family fun or a relaxing stroll. The city hopes that the park will spark economic development in the Jonesboro area.
Exceptional Merit for Suburban Retrofit
The Belmont development in Smyrna turned an aging strip shopping center into a walkable, mixed-use community.
The 50-acre site at the corner of Atlanta Road and Windy Hill Road was originally developed in the early 1950s and was one of the largest shopping centers in the Southeast. The new Belmont development features a mix of single-family attached homes, apartments, retail, office and a public elementary school, with a design that accommodates people of all ages.
The site is adjacent to Cobb County’s Campbell High School and is connected to nearby Smyrna Market Village, the Chattahoochee River and Kennesaw Mountain by the surrounding network of streets, trails and sidewalks.
Exceptional Merit for Historic Preservation
Walgreens in Historic Olympia Building
Encore Real Estate Development
Encore Real Estate Development renovated the historic Olympia Building at Five Points in downtown Atlanta. With help from architecture firm ASD|SKY, the Great Depression-era building was gutted and rebuilt as a 22,000 square foot Walgreens pharmacy, serving local residents, workers and students.
The wedge-shaped, two-story building is known for the Coca-Cola sign installed on its roof.
Great Place Award
The Atlanta Region’s National Parks: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
National Park Service
The 2016 Great Place Award recipient is the National Park Service for its three metro Atlanta units: the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
As the nation observes 100 years of the National Park Service, the Developments of Excellence jury thought it was appropriate to celebrate the contributions of these wonderful amenities that serve to protect our natural resources, preserve our history and attract thousands of visitors to our region each year.
For the past several years, ARC has presented a Great Place award to a neighborhood, street or public place that contributes to and enhances metro Atlanta’s character. Past winners include Piedmont Park, Oakland Cemetery, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and the Marietta Square.