Talk of the Town - Virginia-Highland January 27 2001
Classic homes and convivial atmosphere reel 'em in
Virginia-Highland is like a small village nestled within a city. The swank cafes and fashionable boutiques that line the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue are a popular meeting place for both local residents and tourists. On a pleasant day the sidewalks are bustling with shoppers and the outdoor tables brim with young people. Most of the neighborhood's bungalows and Tudor cottages have been extensively renovated over the years and property values have skyrocketed in this popular intown district.
Ruthie Penn-David, a realtor and Virginia-Highland resident, was drawn to the neighborhood's charm 16 years ago when she moved into her bungalow. The village character of the neighborhood, along with the classic homes, convinced her that this intown neighborhood was for her. Penn-David says looking back the neighborhood was always a popular gathering place. When she arrived, shops and restaurants were already in abundance but they were decidedly less upscale and more neighborhood-oriented. Penn-David never anticipated the neighborhood would "become such a destination" for folks from other parts of Atlanta. She is pleased the neighborhood has become well known, but the newfound popularity does have a down side. As president of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, she spends much of her time wrestling with difficult issues such as traffic and parking, something she thought little about 16 years ago.
Courtney Carter, a law student at Emory University, loves the social atmosphere of Virginia-Highland. Most of her favorite hangouts are an easy walk from her apartment. "The bars and restaurants are great places to meet friends," says Carter. Jogging along the tree-lined sidewalks and relaxing at the neighborhood's numerous parks are also perks. Because most of the shops and businesses are within walking distance, Carter frequently sees her neighbors on the streets and enjoys stopping to chat with them while she is out running errands. "The neighborhood is a great place to meet new people," says Carter, "I see the same people all the time and we usually stop to talk."
But because of the rising rents and limited supply of available housing, Carter says fewer of her law school friends are choosing to live in Virginia-Highland. When she first moved to the neighborhood as an undergraduate at Emory in the early 1990s, moderately priced apartments were plentiful and easy to come by. Ten years later, the task of finding an apartment was a little more difficult. Carter looked at "practically every apartment in the neighborhood" before finding an acceptable place that she admits is still a little expensive for her budget. Carter, however, like many Virginia-Highland residents, thinks she is getting a deal. "I'm paying for the location I love."