Historic Vote for Historic District

Apr 21, 2020

Poncey-Highland residents cast their ballots about a month ago on the question of whether to designate the neighborhood for historic preservation. With a majority of about 75%, the historic district proposal carried, in a step that supports the mix of modern, historic, and repurposed structures that helps give the neighborhood its characteristic flavor. In light of current health concerns, most votes were by absentee ballot, and the Poncey-Highland Neighborhood Association polled its members in a special, Zoom-enabled virtual meeting.

Unexpected Latitude

In the district designation, supporters of the measure see a process framework, rather than a stack of restrictions, and one that ensures that development trends will benefit from community input. Noting that the dialogue and Blueprint process enacted decades ago in Midtown has succeeded in shaping development rather than preventing it, people who have studied the Z-20-15 Poncey-Highland Historic District designation point out some unexpected differences from what might have been expected. The measure would permit many property improvements that would normally be prohibited in traditional historic districts:

  • Full second-story additions on historic residential properties;
  • Upper-story additions on historic commercial properties;
  • Modern additions in the rear of houses;
  • Historic structure alterations can use compatible, non-historic materials; and
  • Contemporary or modern developments on infill lots.

The thrust of the measure appears mainly to keep the wrecking ball out of the neighborhood, preserving the balance of modern and historic structures, rather than regulating every detail of improvement.

The Meaning for Residents and Neighbors

Because the value of existing properties in Poncey-Highland – and to a remarkable extent, too, in neighboring Virginia Highland – has benefitted from a certain historic flavor in the area, the fact that a process could be in place to preserve that value comes as potential good news. The happening Ponce City Market, one of the crown jewels along the green necklace known as the Atlanta Beltline, shines even brighter because it is surrounded by a neighborhood that has historic interest. Putting a process in place for preservation would appear to protect that extra value, as it also does for the homes at 550 North Highland.

This unprecedented collection of three- and four-bedroom designer townhomes are seamlessly woven into this neighborhood’s endless character, history, and connectivity. Preservation efforts will keep the unique lure of 550 North Highland exactly that – unique.

Two more hurdles await the historic district proposal. It must go before the local Neighborhood Planning Unit, as well as the City of Atlanta Zoning Review Board. There still is ample opportunity for review and refinement, yet last month’s vote in the neighborhood brought to light some interesting differences between the proposed Poncey-Highland measure and the versions of historic preservation as usually seen elsewhere.

For more information on how to own at 550 North Highland, visit https://550nhighland.com/contact/ or contact us at 770.282.3824.