Talk of the Town - Buckhead April 18 2001

Poor economy, troubles in nightclub district haven't stopped Atlantans from buying pricey homes

Buckhead may be known as a haven for Atlanta's old money, but the neighborhood is seeing an influx of new residents, including professional athletes and young entrepreneurs.

With ground breaking for new houses, high-rises and commercial buildings across the area, Buckhead is busier than ever. New housing developments include the high-rise Phoenix condominiums on Peachtree and the Central Buckhead townhouse development at Piedmont and Roswell roads. Atlantans choose Buckhead not only for its status, but also for the convenience of its entertainment and retail businesses, as well as its proximity to downtown.

Even though the economy has put on the brakes this year, home sales in Buckhead topped the charts at an average price of $668,000 for the first two months of 2001, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Seventeen home sales topped $1 million in that same period.

"People are buying $2 million and $3 million houses, and it's not just the dotcom people," says Philip White, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Buckhead Brokers. "You have CEOs, heads of companies and entrepreneurs that have sold their companies, and many of them are trading up."

Buckhead's winding roads are known for gated homes with manicured lawns. The area includes showy mansions as well as secluded dwellings, with architecture of all styles.

As land becomes scarce, more buyers are purchasing lots and tearing down old homes to build new ones, White says.

"Many people will buy ranch houses on an acre or two, tear it down and build big houses in their place," White says. "It's a very clear trend."

The entertainment district in Buckhead has seen its share of controversy, including crime and traffic problems. Last summer, the Buckhead Coalition, headed by former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, sought nightlife reforms including reducing the hours of operation for some clubs. The closing of some bars has led to further changes in the area, according to the Buckhead resident.

"As clubs go out, these units are attractive to other retailers," Massell says.

The Buckhead Coalition's long-range plans include making the area more pedestrian-friendly and giving a facelift to a stretch of Peachtree Street.

Hothoods@ creativeloafing.com??

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