In 1926 a crowd of 30,000 gathered for the grand opening of the first Sears retail store in Atlanta. At the time the structure on Ponce de Leon Ave was a symbol of the city’s rising prominence. In 1991, the massive building was converted into City Hall East, but the local government struggled to take full advantage of the largest brick structure in the South.
Now the local landmark is being restored as Ponce City Market, a mixed-use development that will include high-ceilinged office spaces, restaurants, a food market, residences and a skywalk. It will be a few years before the project is completed, but to kick things off they’re throwing Party At Ponce on Saturday, October 1. The event will feature performances by The Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and Francine Reed while chefs from some of our top restaurants offer samples of their creations.
The line-up will include: Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s; Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia; Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene; Shaun Doty of Yeah! Burger; Jay Swift of 4th and Swift; Hugh Acheson of Empire State South; Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen; Duane Nutter of One Flew South; Brian Jones of the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta; and Joe Truex of Watershed.
During the party, guests will be given the opportunity to tour the historic building. Additionally, several advance tours of the raw space will take place September 22-25.
Sitting along the Atlanta Beltline corridor, Ponce City Market hopes to become a hub for Midtown, Poncey Highland, Old Fourth Ward and Virginia Highland neighborhoods. The original train tracks that entered Sears on the second floor plan to be rebuilt for the Beltline to have direct access into building.
“We think the history is really central to the culture we’re trying to create,” said Michael Phillips with Jamestown properties. “We’re trying to keep the spirit of this place alive and to keep it true to its Southern roots.”