Bike lanes, turn lane coming to Ponce

by Brian Gross

On Feb. 7, John Wolfinger and I attended the City and BeltLine’s Open House about the planned improvements to Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Here were the improvements discussed: note, #3 is a very big change!

1. Resurfacing of Ponce between Juniper and Briarcliff/Moreland (GDOT)

2. Pedestrian safety improvements between Piedmont and Briarcliff/Moreland (GDOT)

3. Improvements from Boulevard/Monroe to Freedom Parkway. (BeltLine)
This would reduce the number of traffic lanes from three in each direction, to two wider lanes in each direction but add:
a) a center lane for turns and with some pedestrian islands and
b) as far east as Ponce de Leon Place, a bike lane in each direction. The bike lanes will be buffered from the car traffic by barriers approx. 1 to 2 feet wide. Unfortunately, the road is not wide enough so that the bike lanes can stretch as far east as Freedom Parkway.

The City rep told us there is not a fixed date, but he expected the work to be completed in the summer.

4. Ponce City Market Plaza Interface (BeltLine)
- A plaza that will let pedestrians walk between the BeltLine and the rail shed along the east side of Ponce City Market. (The rail shed will be turned into retail and food outlets). The BeltLine is hoping that funding will also allow for a ramp at North Avenue.

Well, that will connect Ponce City Market – but what about access from Ponce itself, without going through the Market? (I asked). The City planning rep told me that there are plans for a ramp to the BeltLine from the CVS on Ponce and also the Ponce City Market is considering an elevator from the top level of the rail shed down to street level.

On a related note, here are some links to some additional projects underway in Midtown:  project descriptions on the Midtown Alliance website and a recent progress report published on the Midtown Patch site.

Please also see the full handout from the event below, and the map presented:
(note: a “HAWK” signal is a signal at a mid-block pedestrian crossing)

Inman Middle School to Host Open House on Ponce De Leon Road Improvements

Lynette Reid of the Atlanta Beltline, Inc. emailed to advise of an Open House to be held Feb. 7  at 6:30 PM at Inman Middle School. The Open House will focus on upcoming road improvements to Ponce De Leon Avenue. Here’s Reid’s email:

Ponce De Leon Avenue is slated for several road improvement projects over the next several years to enhance its efficiency and improve the mobility of pedestrians, cyclist, and vehicles. 

We invite you to attend the community meeting “Open House” on February 7, 2013 at Inman Middle School from 6:30pm-8:00pm to learn more about the road improvement projects, anticipated sequencing of these projects, and more detailed schedule information where possible. 

Click here to read a press release regarding the Open House.

Before the Plaza Theatre, Patent Medicine Paid for the Druid Apartments

by Brian Gross

It seems that patent medicine paid for quite a bit of local real estate development in the early 1900s. I previously wrote about how Dr. Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic helped build Atkins Park. Now I’ve discovered another promoter of cure-all liquid who financed a beautiful apartment building at the southwest corner of Ponce and N. Highland with his profits.

The site is currently occupied by Briarcliff Plaza, “Atlanta’s first shopping center” (1939) and home to the Plaza Theatre and Majestic Diner. But here in 1917, the Druid Apartments were built. They were financed by George Francis Willis who had made his fortune on sales of Tanlac, a cure for stomach troubles, and Zonite, an antiseptic.

In 1920, Forrest and George Adair brokered a deal whereby Willis sold the apartments for $125,000 to Alex F. Marcus and Charles F. Ursenbach [3] – both brothers-in-law of Leo Frank, who had famously been lynched in 1915.

I haven’t found out if there’s a reason the Druid Apartments were torn down other than a more profitable use of the land.

And following the history trail keeps turning up even more of these patent medicine-financed developments. Mozley Park in west Atlanta, a lovely 1920s neighborhood and an early epicenter of white flight, was founded by Dr. Hiram Mozley, whose lemon elixir promised to relieve heart disease, indigestion, nervous prostration, headache, constipation and neuralgia!

Follow the history trail and there’s always more than meets the eye.

 

Clermont Hotel to Become Boutique Hotel

The Clermont Hotel has been sold to a team of Nashville and New York developers who intend to turn the property into a boutique hotel. The bellwether of the “old”, bawdy Ponce de Leon Avenue stands on its southern side at Bonaventure. The Clermont was built in the 1920s and was closed on orders of county health inspectors in 2009. No word on the fate of the (in)famous Clermont Lounge in the basement, a magnet for visiting celebrities and known for its aging strippers (read more at the Business Chronicle or at the AJC).

The team that bought the Clermont also owns the Oliver boutique hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee, in which they also renovated a historic landmark.

It seems that new and interesting development to Virginia-Highland’s immediate south is unstoppable and not just limited to the massive Ponce City Market project. At the Stove Works in Inman Park there are plans to add an epicurean market (read more at Creative Loafing or Atlanta Intown).

The Briarcliff Summit Building Is Sold!!!

Finally – after 4 years of negotiating and arranging financing – this beleaguered building is in the hands of Evergreen Housing Associates of Scarborough, Maine – a national leader in senior citizen’s housing. The deal was just inked last week and it is still too soon for a lot of details about the changes, but this signals a lot of positive karma on their corner of PDL and North Highland Avenues. The current manager of the building will be retained to help with the transition from one owner to another.

The story with as many details that are available now is at – http://vahi.patch.com/articles/renovations-to-historic-ponce-apartments-set-for-september

Section of Ponce to be closed

To enable Eastside Trail construction, portions of Ponce:

  • between Ponce de Leon Place and
  • the Midtown Place Shopping Center (across from Ponce City Market)

will be closed

  • June 8 – 11 (9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday)
  • June 15 – 18 (9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday)

Download the road closure map

The Eastside Trail project, now under construction, spans more than two miles from the southeast tip of Piedmont Park to Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods. It is the next major component of the Atlanta BeltLine slated to open to the public. This project includes a 14-foot wide multi-use concrete trail for walking, running, biking and skating, as well as a significant amount of underground infrastructure to accommodate current and future utilities. It also includes retaining walls, landscaping and the preservation of right of way for the transit system which will be built in the future. The Eastside Trail is the first part of the trail system to be built within the old rail corridor, which will eventually connect 45 neighborhoods.

The weekend of June 22 through 25 has been identified as a back-up weekend should inclement weather warrant. During the first weekend (June 8 – 10) crews will disassemble the scaffolding that has allowed workers to safely remove lead-based paint and make structural repairs to the bridge over the past two months. The bridge will be lowered to its final elevation during the week of June 11-15. During the second week, the contractor will pour the concrete trail and complete touch-up repairs.

All vehicular access points to the shops at Midtown Place, the Kroger shopping center, Ponce Place and Ford Factory Lofts will be open and accessible during this road closure! Road signs will be in place for the two weeks leading up to the closures to alert drivers on Ponce de Leon Avenue. Sidewalks will periodically be closed to pedestrian traffic as work requires underneath the bridge. Detour signs and off duty-police officers will be provided to direct motorists.

The PDL Avenue CVS Construction Site

At first this area only presented a pedestrian hazard with the destruction of the sidewalks here – but City of Atlanta had the contractor move the “sidewalk closed” sign eastward to PDL Place solving that problem. But, now the contractor has moved out into the traffic lanes – effectively forcing westbound traffic in the curbside lane to move over. I reported this to Public Works – but they have deferred to the GaDOT – since PDL Avenue is a state highway. Hope a warning sign is posted soon before there is a terrible accident in this area.

PDL Avenue

The CVS drugstore construction project seems to have somewhat scattered the wannabe workers along PDL, but pedestrian access to the shopping area is still sometimes blocked right at the entrance next to this construction site. It is my hope that the new CVS will not allow the narrow sidewalks along this area to be blocked for easy and safe pedestrian access. I am also glad to see that a new scooter store has opened at the corner of PDL and PDL – keeping this vital corner free of vagrants. I wish this new business success at this corner. Further east – the new pet care facility at the site of the former Central Electric is eliminating another gathering place for vagrants.

Voice – Fall 1995


Download PDF (2.3 MB)

- Summerfest ’95
- President’s Corner: city Zoning board did not issue exceptions to Cartel Properties to build a 27,000 ft2, 2000-patron restaurant/entertainment complex, the largest in the city, on the site of the Colgate Mattress warehouse at 712 Ponce de Leon Place. Access was only via 2-lane Ponce Place and parking would be all-valet with only 3 spaces on-site.
- Tips from the trade (review of Kliphph Where? clothing store)
- John Howell Park Project: playground is finished! Outwrite Bookstore donates $3000 earned from Greg Louganis book signing event.
- Tree news: new tree ordinance protecting trees takes effect
- School roundup
- Finally, an intown farmer’s market
- Environmental potpourri
- Col. Mustard reviews St. Charles Deli
- Green with energy (weatherization tips), by Sarah Tomaka
- Summerfest 1995 photos (2 pages)

Voice – Summer 1995

Download PDF (2.5 MB)

- Showtime again, Summerfest ’95 just around the corner, by Deborah Cox
- Many thanks, Steve Jagger (profile of Steve Jagger) by Debbie Skoczynski
- President’s corner: Storage facility at Virginia and Kanuga turned down, permit vetoed for “Hilan Billiards” at 800 N. Highland
- Atkins Park thanks supporters of landscaping of gate area
- Bike Stuff by Mike Goodman
- Girl Scouts do more than sell cookies, by Roberta and Sarah McQuade
- Neighbors and city team up to clean up (Ponce at St. Charles)
- Environmental potpourri
- Col. Mustard reviews Harry and Sons
- Green with energy (tips to lower water use), by Sarah Tomaka
- John Howell Park project, by Tinka Green
- Easter egg hunt at John Howell Park, by Sunny Williams
- Ponce Coalition update, by Jett Marks
- VaHi tree planting continues, by Stephanie Coffin

Voice – Spring 1993

Download PDF (3.2 MB)

- Property tax season: VaHi is on first list (of assessment mailings) to homeowners
- Friend, board member (Ed Neal) passed away
- President’s Corner: Summerfest success, DOT property on Ponce (now The Carlton condos, ed.) released, Murphy’s still in court
- Bicycles Require Care, Maintenance, Year Round Many Adjustments will Require Bike Mechanic, by Mike Goodman
- Your City Council, By Sheilll Martin-Brown, councilperson-at-larg
- Remember Your 3 R’s… Redvce. Reuse. Recycle. By Nan Hunter
- Parking Survey Received Huge Response, by Jett Marks
- Piedmont Park has Become the Main Course on the Table, by Kathy Couch
- Gardening Volunteers Can Gain Hours for a Chance to Volunteer forthe 1996 Olympics, by Kathy Couch
- VaHi Can’t Flee from the Crime without Everyone’s Help, by Joyce Gross
- Don’t Be Shy To Your Own Neighborhood, by J .D. Christy, VP VHCA
- Col. Mustard reviews American Roadhouse
- Suitable Site For CSO (combined sewer overflow) Still Under Debate, by Jett Marks
- Sidewalks throughout the Virginia- Highland area are due for a facelift, by Ellen Kates

Voice – Fall 1992


Download PDF (1.6 MB)

- Annual meeting brings BIG crowd
- The PATHway for bicycling
- Ponce Task Force has new plan
- School report by Joe Martin, Atlanta School Board
- Recycle today, you can make the difference, by Nan Hunter
- Summerfest ’92 a success! by Beth Marks
- What are we doing to our parks? by David Robertson
- Col. Mustard reviews Everybody’s Restaurant
- Ponce property under discussion (disposal of 6 lots facing Ponce between Barnett and Bonaventure), by Jerry Bright
- Profile of Morningside school, by Mary Joe Peed
- Parks committee needs flower power, by Kathy Couch
- VHCA gets new phone service, by Nyna Gentry
- Murphy’s restaurant update
- Crime statistics

Voice – Summer 1992

Download PDF (2.4 MB)

- Letter to the editor from Douglas W. Jones, president of the Ponce de Leon Corridor Association, urging action to oppose Grady Hospital from expanding onto Ponce
- Rep rap, by Rep. Jim Martin
- Reduce, reuse and recycle: participating streets, by Nan Hunter
- New parking committee comes to life, by Elmo Colburn
- Col. Mustard review of Mid City Fish
- Update on Murphy’s move, by Jeni Evans
- Ponce Task Force focuses on reducing risk to investors, by Jett Marks, VaHi rep to PTF
- Piedmont Park Conservancy by city councilmember Mary Davis
- John Howell Park, by Jerry Bright
- Plan to save your life in case of fire, by Ken Lavine
- School update
- Crime graphs and statistics
- Composting comes home, by Nan Hunter
- Summerfest ’92
- Danny’s Run 5K and fun run

Voice – Spring 1992


Download PDF (2.5 MB)

- Atkins Park traces its past, by Tinka Green
- Murphy’s Law #92: more parking. Finding parking for Murphy’s new location at Virginia and Todd. By Jeni Evans
- Rep rap: Easy access to guns is killing us, by David Scott, State Senator
- Heart Strings: volunteers needed for Atlanta’s largest AIDS fundraiser
- A tale of two neighbors and a wild boar, Wild Boar beer at George’s, by Yvette Weatherly
- Making music in VaHi, a profile of Michael Moore (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) and Paula Peace-Moore by Alison Nelson
- The zoning and variance review process, by Ed Neal and Nyna Gentry
- Finally, Virginia-Highlanders can build snowmen (photos)
- Ponce Task Force update
- Many residents perturbed over parking, by Vicky Favorite
- Schools update
- Recycling: we need more VaHi curbside recyclers in ’92, by Nan Hunter

Voice – Fall 1991

Download PDF (2.8 MB)

- The taming of Piedmont Park – traffic and illegal activity around perimeter of park
- Piedmont Park’s combined sewer overflow controversy – the anatomy of a setback, by I. E. Saporta, architect
- Letter to the editor by Ruthie and Tom Penn-David in cautious support of Summerfest (and not “Drunkfest”)
- A day in the life of Orme Park, by Vicky Favorite and Yvonne Weatherly
- Summerfest opinion – residents and businesses speak out
- Adopted highway “Ponce” needs your help
- Moving right along with (John Howell Park) plans, by Jerry Bright
- Schools update
- What a weekend! Summerfest ’91. Over $2100 raised!
- Doing your share: recycling is so easy in VaHi, by Nan Hunter
- Carefree vacations, by Maggie Baron
- Library forced to reduce hours, services, by Kathy Couch
- The new YWCA offers relief, renewal, by Vicky Favorite
- Report to taxpayers on financial issues affecting the Atlanta Public Schools, by Joseph G. Martin, Jr., president
- Morningside PTA fundraiser has something for everyone, by Ginny Connelly
- Home Alone: Security for children with working parents, by Ken Lavine
- Better bicycling

Voice – Summer 1991

Download PDF (3.0 MB)

- A VaHi Summerfest you won’t want to miss, by Nan Hunter
- Block watch, a success story, by Joyce Gross
- Letter to the editor from Anne Taylor Hendry in defense of services for the homeless on Ponce
- Ponce Task Force survey results
- Grady students speak out – poems and essays by Grady 9th and 10th graders
- Rep Rap by Fulton County commissioner Nancy Boxill: demolishing the Highland library, settling the Presidential Parkway, property reappraisal
- John Howell Park plans approved
- Who says it’s a piece of junk? Many of our contemporary icons are threatened. By Steve Jagger
- Neighbor profile: The VOICE staff. Jett and Beth Marks, Kala Marks, Kathy Couch, Nan Hunter, Sarah Tomaka, Jeni and Rob Evans, Mickey Lawson, Terry Tuley
- Helpful hints for the Highland homeowner: fire safety, by Virginia Temple
- First annual VHCA/Summerfest “Sweat” 5K Run and Family Run – 1 mile
- Recycling: why not add your stuff to the curbside pick-up brigade?, by Nan Hunter
- Liquor store at Ponce and Barnett closes
- Host a student from France! By Carol Sleeth

Voice – Spring 1991

Download PDF(part 1, pages 1–10, 6.4 MB)
Download PDF (part 2, pages 11–20, 5.0 MB)

In part one:
- A VaHi pioneer (Richard C. Todd) and his legacy to this neighborhood, by Jeni Evans
- Franklin Garrett speaks at March meeting. He will be presenting a history of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.
- Being a security-conscious neighbor, by Ken Lavine, VHCA public safety co-chair
- Grady students speak out: Essays by Grady 9th and 10th graders on homelessness, war and other current issues
- The VOICE – ten years ago, by Beth Marks
- Variances and how to get one, by Steve Jagger
- Inman Middle School, by Ellen England and Janice Giddens
- New playhouse at library
- Good neighbor policy, by Kathy Couch
- St. Patrick’s Day 5K race, by Doug Sligh
- About the Ponce de Leon Task Force survey

In part two:
- Ponce de Leon Task Force survey form
- Inman wants more tutors
- CINS awards mini-grants to area teachers, by Laurie Del Martin
- Grady High School news, by Laurie Del Martin
- Help support CINS when you get your emmision test
- Top sellers at Morningside Elementary gift wrap sale
- And the pick-up goes on…recycling in 1991! By Nan Hunter
- Help for the Highland homeowner, by Virginia Temple
- Be on the lookout for the “ACORN” man!

Voice – Winter 1990

Download PDF (3.1 MB)

- Neighbor profile: Foot patrolman Officer Chris Clark, by Beth Marks
- Ponce de Leon task force to speak at December meeting
- Historic preservation presentation update, by Burn Sears
- Front porch living, by Yvette Weatherly
- Holiday entertaining like a pro, by Shelley Pedersen, director of catering at Murphy’s
- Historic designation – what is means to you
- John Howell Park update (by Jerry Bright) and events (by the L.A.M.P. project)
- Historic designation survey form
- Outline of City zoning preservation ordinance
- Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools (CINS), by Barbara Van Dyke
- Grady students to author VOICE articles
- Morningside Elementary volunteers
- Inman needs tutors too
- Recycling, it’s habit forming, by Nan Hunter
- The road that was almost built (Georgia 400/I-485), by Warren Pritchard with Charles Longley
- Building permits, by Steve Jagger
- Ponce de Leon Task Force gains momentum in reaching for a consensus
- Interview with Chief Eldrin Bell, by V. Evans
- Personal safety (reprinted from ProTech Security Systems newsletter)

Voice – Fall 1990

Special issue dedicated to understanding and improving Ponce de Leon Avenue

Download PDF (3.0 MB)

  • Annual meeting (photo) and results
  • America’s Stop Crime Program to speak
  • Ponce de Leon Task Force sets goals for Ponce Corridor
  • Union Mission will not pursue acquisition of building in 900 block of Ponce
  • Neighborhood school achieve many honors
  • Friends of the Library
  • Pastor of Baptist Church introduces himself
  • The Compost Man
  • Recycling Update
  • Interview with Ed Loring of Open Door on Ponce
  • Grassroots effort to improve Ponce
  • How I handle a stranger at my door
  • Parks and recreation
  • Sidewalk repair
  • Survey of inexpensive hotels along Ponce
  • Neighborhood watch, “if you hear a whistle blowing”
  • D.O.T property at St. Charles
  • Would a burglar find your home attractive?

Ad for Murphy's, Virginia-Highland Voice, August 1990

Voice – Summer 1990

Download PDF (2.7 MB)

- Meet with the Police about forming a PAC (Partnership against Crime)
- Neighbor profile: Joyce Gross, VHCAA head of public safety
- The VOICE says fight crime
- VOICE mission statement
- Summerfest 1990
- Preservation update, by Nina Gentry
- Council of Intown Neighbors and Schools (CINS), by Barbara Van Dyke
- Ponce de Leon taskforce, by Susan Carroll
- VaHi’s annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K Road Race
- The Voice wants to announce the results of your efforts to thwart crime (streets with neighborhood watches)
-Things are picking up: the sequel (recycling), by Nan Hunter
- VaHi color: Mark Draper and Mother’s Tire Company, by Warren Pritchard
- The YWCA comes to VaHi
- What VaHi merchants are doing to deter crime