This year, we’re returning to Atlanta for the second time—and we couldn’t be more excited! The city feels like home to us. From the friends we made, to the food we ate, Atlanta’s warm welcome still lingers from our beards to our boots. We owe much of this sentiment to our hosts, Ponce City Market.
Ponce City Market occupies the former Sears, Roebuck & Co distribution center for the Southeast. To this day, it is the largest brick building in the region, with over 2 million square feet of space. Thanks to our sponsor, Jamestown L.P., the building is the area’s largest adaptive reuse project.
We found that many Atlantaens remember visiting the building—parts of which date to 1926—to go holiday shopping with their friends and family. Others recalled working in the massive space alongside giant packing machines. But Ponce’s history actually starts quite a bit earlier.
In 1860 (long before Sears arrived) natural springs named in honor of Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon drew thousands to the area. Eventually, Ponce de Leon Park was constructed around the springs. Ponce de Leon Avenue soon followed. And ultimately, the Sears distribution center.
Now, hot on the heels of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward revitalization, new life has returned to the building. Ponce City Market-goers can now explore expansive courtyards, gaze onto an original train trestle (that once led freight trains through the building) and stroll Atlanta’s BeltLine (a city park built on the foundation of former rail lines).
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recognizes Ponce City Market as “History in the making,” and recognizes the project as part of a plan “to move Atlanta forward while maintaining and emphasizing the city’s unique history and culture.”
What’s more, office tenants like athenahealth and MailChimp can work alongside their Atlantaen neighbors. And, with seven James Beard recognized chefs, Ponce City Market has become one of Atlanta’s most vibrant culinary centers.
Perhaps most exciting to American Field, Ponce City Market launched Citizen Supply this year—a curated marketplace of small batch, craftsman quality, and handcrafted goods from local artisans. This permanent marketplace creates a direct connection from the source to the end user serves to reinforce local entrepreneurial economies.
We are honored to have used a portion of the historic space within Ponce City Market and can’t wait for this weekend to begin.
Big thanks for Ponce City Market for providing information used in this article.