Talk of the Town - Presidential quarters September 28 2005

Tami Donnelly offers a peek at her Castleberry Hill home and 'hood

Around 5 in the evening, the residents of Castleberry Hill stop on their way home from work and socialize with Tami Donnelly at her home in the 1930s-era Mueller building. As president of the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association, Donnelly works closely with her fellow residents and attends meetings to promote positive changes. To have more time to dedicate to the neighborhood, Donnelly made the decision to work from her intown home and leave her OTP 9-to-5 job. Now she runs a business from her contemporary-style, 1,750-square-foot loft and coordinates travel plans for two corporations in addition to her tireless work with the neighborhood.

What's the best part of living in Castleberry Hill?

The people and the location. It's a very sociable neighborhood. We'll get out and walk with a glass of wine in the evenings and stop and talk to everyone.

How does working from home cater to your lifestyle?

Now I don't have to travel, therefore I'm at home when my husband is at home and we can have a better life instead of both of us being in the corporate world. I can dedicate the time to the neighborhood, because I really do love it.

Your loft is very colorful and contemporary. How did you start the decorating process?

One day I was sitting on the steps of our building and a man came by wanting 7 dollars so he could get in the [Atlanta Union] Mission. I had just bought a can of orange paint, so I let him paint a wall for me. I gave him 7 dollars to get in the Mission plus a fried pork chop sandwich. That's how I got my first colored wall, and ever since then, I went crazy with colors and decorating. Before I moved here, I had no sense of decorating, but when I came here my imagination ran wild because there are just so many things you can do with it.

I understand you're concerned with the hours of operation of many of the local businesses.

Yes. We have like nine art galleries in the four- or five-block radius of our neighborhood. The patrons who come to the galleries would be grateful to walk from gallery to gallery and have more than one option to stop and have something to drink or eat. That's the thing about this neighborhood — there's not that much to do within walking distance after 5 p.m.

How do you think the surrounding business community downtown help with these efforts?

The businesses downtown cater to the business world. And since Castleberry Hill and downtown Atlanta have a lot of residents now, it's time businesses change their hours to extend into the evening.