The Ponce de Leon Apartments, located at the corner of Atlanta's famed Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue, was the city's first luxury apartment building. Situated opposite the Georgian Terrace Hotel and Fox Theatre, the 12-floor building was completed in 1913, three quarters of a century before high-rise condominiums like Mayfair Renaissance, The Phoenix on Peachtree and Park Place (part-time home to singer Sir Elton John) graced the skylines of Atlanta's trendy Midtown and decidedly affluent Buckhead neighborhoods.
Writing for the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Robert M. Craig, professor emeritus of architectural history, at the Georgia Institute of Technology, described the Ponce de Leon Apartments in his entry, "Late Victorian Architecture: Overview," as "Atlanta's premier apartment building of the period." However, Craig adds, "At the Ponce de Leon Apartments, a regrettable decision to install exterior windows without mullions (that is, without shuttering or other vertical markers) during restoration in the 1980s provided the state its most dramatic illustration of what not to do in restoring a landmark building."
Further, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released in 2005 its first "10 Places in Peril" list which included the Ponce de Leon Apartments. "After an incomplete condominium conversion in 1982, the building's fate is up in the air," the Georgia Trust stated. "The building needs substantial funding for rehabilitation. Many historic condominiums face similar problems in the future."
In a city where important landmarks have faced the wrecking ball, the fate of the Ponce de Leon Apartments remains uncertain. The proximity of Atlantic Station (a city within the city) just blocks away serves as a haunting reminder that Atlanta is an ever-evolving city. Should a developer wish to acquire the building and replace it with a towering skyscraper, city officials would most certainly be bombarded with protests, but developers often get their way. One can always hope that buildings like the Ponce de Leon Apartments remain vibrant elements of the communities in which they stand. Thankfully, the odds are not always stacked against them.