One of Buckhead’s oldest churches has closed permanently.

Paces Ferry United Methodist Church, which is located at 3612 Paces Ferry Road and was founded in 1877, held its last service on March 24. Its board of directors decided to close the church about a month before its final service after analyzing its revenue, said Hank Koppelman, the board’s chair.

“I think the simplest answer is we ran out of people,” he said when asked why the church decided to close. “Declining attendance, declining membership, and as a result of that, declining revenue. It brought us to the point where there really was no choice but to close.”

Finances cited as reason for closure

Koppelman, who had been a member since 2009 or 2010, said the church had nearly 25 members when it closed, about 10 less than a year earlier. Some of its biggest donors had moved away, heavily impacting its revenue.

In October 2018, the church was going to close after its lay minister, Steve Unti, announced he would retire at year’s end after spending 18 years in that role. As a result, the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, the church’s parent organization, chose to close it instead of hiring a new minister to take Unti’s place.

But after members objected to that decision and the local media reported on the closure, the North Georgia Conference changed its mind and allowed the church to stay open by having the minister of a nearby church, Collins Memorial UMC, also serve as its minister.

At that time, the church was financially stable, members said, so they were able to convince the North Georgia Conference to keep it open. Back then the church had about 30 members and about 30 “friends,” residents living nearby who supported the church financially and by helping with duties such as landscaping or maintenance.

But this time around, the church’s financial situation forced it to close. Jeannette McCain, 85, a lifelong member of the church, said after Unti retired, it lost some members who are his friends. Also, she added, some of its young members left, seeking larger churches with big music programs and bands.

“But there was a lot of love in that church, a lot of love,” McCain said.

Paces Ferry UMC’s history

The church’s building was completed in 1896 and the Pleasant Hill Cemetery next to it on the church property predates it, bearing the church’s original name, Pleasant Hill Methodist. The cemetery includes the graves of Civil War soldiers who died in a nearby battle. It also holds the grave of William Brown, who donated the land for the church, according to a historic marker outside the church’s doors erected by the Thomas Johnson chapter of the National Society of Colonial Dames XVIII Century.

The church also housed a school, Pleasant Hill Private Academy, which was led by Ida Williams, the woman for whom the Buckhead Library was named.

Days after the church closed, a “For Sale” sign was posted in front of it. But only the portion of the property containing the church and fellowship hall is for sale, for $500,000. The cemetery will remain as a separate parcel, and an organization, the Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association at Paces Ferry Inc., was established to maintain it. Also, Methuselah, the property’s post oak tree that dates back to circa 1730 and stands in front of the church, will continue to be cared for by master arborist Chris Hastings.

David Mitchell, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, a nonprofit that aims to protect and promote the city’s historic properties, said he had not heard about the church’s closure.

“You can create active infill and do something thoughtful to the neighborhood,” he said of possible future uses for the church property. “Obviously, we would want to be proactive and see the historic fabric preserved. But we want to make sure the church building is preserved.”

‘It breaks my heart’

Marie Macadam, a member since 2010, said she hopes the association can one day add a map to the cemetery to identify where each person’s plot is located.

“It’s sad,” she said of the church’s closure. “The good thing is … the money that people had donated specifically for the capital account used to improve the church versus operations, those people can rest assured that those funds have been transferred to maintain the cemetery and not [to] the general United Methodist Church.”

Koppelman said the church’s funds in its operating account will go back to the North Georgia Conference as part of its closure process.

Harriet Adams, a member since 2017, said “it breaks my heart” to see the church close.

“It is a historical jewel box in our Paces neighborhood,” she said in an email. “It is the only place I know that has one of the oldest churches in Buckhead (1877), a historic cemetery (1876) with 12 veterans from the Civil War to Vietnam and the oldest oak tree in the Atlanta area (1730).

“Having this capsule of time in our backyard is a reminder of who we are and where we came from and ALL the sacrifices made by so many for today’s freedoms. Having a place like Paces Ferry United Methodist Church in our neighborhood is a reminder to future generations of past battles fought and Atlanta pioneers with namesakes that we are familiar with today. It anchors us to our past which builds patriotism and pride in our country.”

What comes next?

Because the city of Atlanta has zoned the church property as R-1 (single-family residential), which requires any new home to be built on at least two acres of land, it would likely require a variance to house a structure other than a church there. According to several real estate websites, the church property is 0.69 acres, not large enough for a new home to be developed.

Sybil Davidson, a spokeswoman for the North Georgia Conference, did not immediately have an answer to Buckhead.com’s question about whether or not the organization would encourage other church congregations to buy Paces Ferry UMC’s building, but she did provide general information on church closures.

“A church closing is always painful,” she said. “In circumstances where there is declining membership and available funds don’t allow for a church to be sustained, our denomination has guidelines in place to direct the congregation and conference leadership through the process of closing the property and moving the membership to another United Methodist Church.”

In general, a closed church’s property would be assessed, including its facilities and “its surrounding community,” to determine if it could be potentially used in the future for ministry, Davidson said. She added that if the property is sold, the funds would “go toward starting new ministries to reach new people or toward innovative mission and ministry in existing churches.”

“Such funds have been deployed to new churches, digital ministry, food banks and feeding ministries and community engagement, just to name a few areas,” Davidson said.

Koppelman, whose family “fell in love with the church” after driving by it many times, and McCain said they hope another church can take Paces Ferry UMC’s place.

“I would love to see another church come in there and continue using the building for what it was built to provide,” Koppelman said.

McCain added, “She’ll rise again. At one time my mother and I were the only ones going to that church, and it rose again then.”

Picture perfect Buckhead home in the Paces Neighborhood just moments away from the very best Buckhead schools is nestled on over 2.33 acres of mature forest providing a picturesque haven for nature enthusiasts who covet their privacy and space. The double driveways and generous setback from the street perfectly frame the New England-style architecture simply dripping with charm.

The well-designed floorplan caters to those desiring a main level primary bedroom suite and expansive living spaces.

room for your car collection

Automotive enthusiasts will be thrilled to find the rare combination of an attached 3-car garage AND a detached 6-car garage featuring a dedicated workshop, half bath and a finished level of living space below.

Main Level

The interior embraces the sought after rustic charm balanced with modern style.  Immaculately preserved original hardwood floors and brick flooring, natural wood beamed ceilings, and stone fireplace surrounds contribute warmth and character throughout. High vaulted ceilings and steel windows along the back add a touch of modern design.

The spacious kitchen is adorned with herringbone-patterned brick floors and features all white cabinets, beautiful stone counters, a central island that comfortably seats four, top line appliances, and a sunny eat-in breakfast room. Glass front display cabinets provide the perfect showcase for cookbooks, formal china and heirloom collections, creating a culinary haven that is both functional and beautiful.    

An all-season light-drenched sunroom encased in steel windows will delight bird-watching enthusiasts. Just off the kitchen, it overlooks the outdoor stone patio, seasonal gardens and the verdant forest beyond.

Friends and family will automatically gravitate to the family room to watch the team win or participate in a fun game night. This spacious room also has high vaulted ceilings, a fireplace, built-ins and windows on three sides.

A separate grand great room also features windows on three sides, a reclaimed wood beamed vaulted ceiling and a fireplace. French doors lead out onto the courtyard and gardens, offering views of the surrounding landscape on all sides. Built-in glass enclosed bookshelves make this space a haven for avid readers and book collectors.

A reception room connects the grand room to the formal living room. This and the formal dining room, each with stately fireplaces, provide elegant surroundings for sophisticated gatherings and spreading holiday cheer.  

Primary bedroom

Also on the main level is the primary bedroom suite which (again) features a beamed vaulted ceiling and fireplace that enhances the relaxing ambiance. The bathroom renovation and expansion was inspired by a classic historic palette and finishes, but features modern conveniences such as an oversized shower, his and hers separate vanities, a separate cosmetic vanity, whirlpool tub and extensive built in cabinets.  Two half baths and a full laundry room round out the convenient main level living spaces.

Upper level

Upstairs are 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths and at the top of the stairs is a multi-purpose room which could serve as a home office, den or study. A large separate closet tucked away serves as extra storage space or home office. A full staircase provides easy access to the attic level.

Terrace Level

A small portion of the terrace level in the main home is finished into an office space or play room. The space features a wall of windows and door to the sideyard.

Car Barn/ Hobby House

A short stroll down a scenic finished path is the detached garage with it’s own separate driveway. Designed by Harrison Design and built in 2005, this is a massive space that can easily accommodate 6 or more vehicles. Below is a full sized finished area that can be converted to a separate apartment, gym, or anything else you can imagine! This fully air conditioned space can easily be adapted to your own hobbies or re-purposed as a plush guest house for the in-laws!

Paces Neighborhood

Driving down many streets in the Paces neighborhood, it would be easy to imagine yourself in the hills of North Georgia. The neighborhood has rolling topography, dense forest, and secluded properties. Then, you crest a hill and see the entire Atlanta skyline peeking above the tree line, a reminder that you are a few minutes from just about anywhere in Buckhead, Midtown, or Downtown! This embodies what Buckhead is really about, a wonderful quality of life combined with the conveniences of a modern city at your doorstep … or front gate.

This hilltop lot is the best value in Buckhead with over 4 acres and 400 feet wide! The setting is very private with views of a pristine hardwood forest in the rear. Prior home has been cleared and a conceptual site plan by Land Plus has been developed to take advantage of the beautiful views while delivering on every possible feature: a perfectly situated hilltop home, gardens, pool house, sport court and more!

This idyllic lot provides a park-like building site that’s minutes from all the shopping, dining, and recreation Buckhead has to offer.

While Buckhead’s most expensive home sales in 2023 did not break records, they showed broad strength in the top-end of our market. The average sale price for homes in Buckhead reached $1,714,416 in 2023, marking a 12.3% rise from the previous year. To join the elite list of Buckhead’s top 10 home sales in 2023, properties needed a minimum price tag of $7 million.

For several years in a row I have personally sold more of these top 10 sales than any other Realtor, and I am proud to say that I have maintained that record for another year with two of the top ten sales to my name, including the #1 sale of the year.

Four of the top 10 sales were new construction spec homes, indicating a demand for “new” from buyers and a boldness to fill that demand among local luxury home builders. Siegel Construction & Design built two of these four homes and has plans to bring more top-tier homes to the market in the near future. “We see a lot of strength at the top end of the market in Buckhead both for spec and custom builds,” commented David Siegel, the founder of the firm.

Among the top 10, two were high-rise condominiums. The condo at Park Place, formerly owned by Elton John, garnered international interest and secured the 9th position with a $7.2 million sale price. Meanwhile, a Penthouse at the Graydon, located on the same stretch of Peachtree Road, quietly surpassed this figure, selling for $7.95 million and achieving the 5th spot on our list.

8

343 Hillside Drive                                                                        $7,550,000

SOLD  12/06/2023
7 br / 7 ba / 3 half bath / 11,500 Sqft / 1.5 Acres
 
New construction home on prime lot by Siegel Construction and Design. Sold by Hirsh Real Estate

9

10

Buckhead resident Anne McKillips says she wants her “quality of life back” in aiming to pass legislation that could automatically cite the owners of cars that produce excessive noise.

McKillips, a retired entrepreneur who lives near Lenox Road and Ga. 400, leads the volunteer-based Georgia Loud Cars Task Force, which is working with legislators to draft bills aimed at limiting vehicle noise through automated citations. The group recently began a petition that aims to draw support for the cause in the hopes it will spur legislators to take up the issue in 2024.

“The noise pollution in this world is incredible, and it needs to be brought under control,” McKillips said.

Group proposes use of noise detection cameras

McKillips and her volunteer task force plan to introduce legislation that will allow for the use of noise detection cameras statewide. Such camera systems have already been implemented in cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, and Miami, and New York City lawmakers are expected to allow their use soon, Forbes reported.

The noise detection cameras work like other automated traffic systems, including school zone speed cameras, McKillips said. They can be mounted near roadways, calibrated for that location, and will detect any cars surpassing a certain decibel threshold set by local lawmakers. When the system detects excessive vehicle noise from a car, the cameras can snap a photo of its license plate with a time, date, location and decibel stamp, allowing a citation to be issued to the registered owner of the car.

The task force is currently working with several Georgia House and Georgia Senate representatives, she said, to introduce bills in each house in 2024. Similar bills were proposed in the Legislature during the 2023 session, but they “went nowhere,” McKillips said, spurring the task force to continue drumming up support.

The group’s Change.org petition, which began Nov. 17, had garnered over 1,400 signatures as of Dec. 6.

“I’m hoping we can get people to circulate it to their entire network so we can say to the entire legislature this is important to the citizens of Georgia,” McKillips said.

The Loud Cars Task Force does not intend to mandate these cameras at any level, McKillips said. Rather, it wants the state to pass a bill to allow for their use statewide and leave the decision to use them up to local control.

“One of the things that’s really important in the bill, we want to make sure the state Legislature allows the noise detection technology but does not mandate it,” she said. “Every jurisdiction will make the decision to use it. We also want it so that every jurisdiction that implements it can set its own decibel level [limits]. For instance, Tuxedo Park needs a lower decibel level than Fulton Industrial [Boulevard]. We only want it available.”

She is certainly advocating for their use in Buckhead and the City of Atlanta, though.

Buckhead is purportedly a hotspot for car noise vehicle complaints

A study conducted by Georgia State University students found Peachtree Road had the highest number of vehicle noise complaints calls to the Atlanta Police Department from June 2021 to June 2023. Three-hundred calls were fielded by the APD during the two-year span. Neighborhood Planning Unit B — which includes North Buckhead, Buckhead Forest, South Tuxedo Park, Buckhead Heights, Peachtree Heights East and West, Garden Hills and Buckhead Village and other local areas — had the second highest noise complaint volume of the 25 NPUs within Atlanta, the study noted.

The vehicle noise around Buckhead is what inspired McKillips to create the task force around three years ago. At first, McKillips said she wanted people to continually call APD each time they heard an excessively loud car.

“I kept calling and calling,” she said. “After talking to some APD officers, they can’t do anything about it. If there’s a loud car, by the time they get there, it’s gone. There are more important things they have to address, and they don’t have the staff to sit everywhere and monitor [car noise levels].”

McKillips said excessively noisy cars have become a nuisance, but it goes beyond quality-of-life issues.

“We want to have noise pollution caused by cars, trucks, ATVs, anything, under control,” she said. “That’s our real goal. It affects wildlife, children with autism, it can cause strokes. I’m tired of it. If we don’t make it through this session, I’ll be back the following year.”

Difficulties exist in enforcing vehicle noise levels

A specific noise limit threshold that can be emitted from a car’s muffler is not outlined in state codes. However, it is a misdemeanor to sell or use a muffler “which causes excessive or unusual noise.” As such, it’s often up to an officer’s discretion to cite a car owner for excessive muffler noise, Lt. W. Mark Riley, former public information officer for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told 11Alive in 2021.

State codes dictate that sounds produced from a car’s audio system cannot be heard at a distance of 100 feet or more from a vehicle, however.

The Loud Cars Task Force hopes that municipalities or counties would be able to use the passage of their proposed bill(s) to set specific decibel limits. McKillips said signs would also be posted to warn drivers of their use. State law requires such signs to be erected advising drivers of the use of speed detection and red-light cameras.

Buckhead is set to soon be home to the first Chattahoochee River public access point owned by the City of Atlanta. The East Palisades Trail in Whitewater Creek also provides public river access in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Mayor Andre Dickens and officials from the Trust for Public Land, which is spearheading efforts to create 100 miles of trails and parks along the river, held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 2 at Standing Peachtree Park to mark the future park amenities and access point, which are slated to open in 2024.

Upgrades and river access coming to Standing Peachtree Park

Standing Peachtree Park, located off Ridgewood Road NW in west Buckhead, will receive a host of upgrades, in addition to serving as Atlanta’s first city-owned public access point along the major waterway.

The Nov. 2 groundbreaking ceremonially kicked off the construction of a new accessible kayak launch, an ADA-accessible pathway to the river, regrading of the access road on the site, and woodland restoration.

“Standing Peachtree is a great amenity for residences there, and this project will highlight the site and bring to the forefront access to the river,” Christine Hassell, Chattahoochee program project manager with the Trust for Public Land, said.

The kayak launch site will be along Peachtree Creek, Hassall said, allowing kayakers and others to acclimate to the water before the creek quickly meets the Chattahoochee.

The site will be far more manageable to reach.  

“Right now if you want to kayak, you have to navigate a pretty rough, rutted, dirty and muddy road all the way down to the confluence of Peachtree Creek and the [Chattahoochee],” she said. “It’s quite a haul. And depending on the water level, you might have to navigate some steep, rocky grade to get into the water.”

The upgrades proposed for the project will bring the launch point closer to Standing Peachtree’s parking area, and the gravel pathways will be compacted and graded to ADA requirements, “so everyone can get access to the river,” Hassall said.

The city and Trust plan to cut the ribbon on the park’s upgrades, and thus open the Hooch to residents, in late summer or fall of 2024. 

Other amenities could be coming further down the pipeline, Hassall added. The Trust for Public Land is also exploring a potential trail directly to the Chattahoochee River and repaving the park’s road.

Public access point marks a significant milestone in the river’s history

The Chattahoochee River is a staple of the Atlanta area and far beyond. Following decades-long efforts to clean up the river, Mayor Andre Dickens highlighted the significance of the city’s first public access point in Buckhead.

“In my first State of City address, we announced that we’re taking the city to the river, and with this acquisition we’re providing the vibrant parkland that Atlanta deserves,” Dickens said. “We’ve come a long way from a river that used to be a public health threat to recognizing the Chattahoochee River as a special gift that has been given to us.”

George Dusenbury, Georgia state director with the Trust for Public Land, said the groundbreaking at Standing Peachtree “marks a huge step forward in providing connectivity to one of the region’s most popular and significant natural spaces.” Dusenbury also credited public and private partnerships in bringing the access point to fruition.

As the public begins to access the Chattahoochee outside of multiple parks in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Hassall said work continues to change the “image problem” of the river.

“The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper has done so much work along the river for years, really setting standards, addressing pollution, keeping the river as clean as possible and monitoring [water] quality,” she said. “The health of residents and the health of the river is not something any of us take lightly. The river is a lovely amenity. It’s clean. And the Riverkeeper can notify us when it’s necessary to get out of the river for water quality issues.”

Buckhead’s river access point begins 48-miles of ‘camp and paddle’ amenities along waterway

Buckhead’s access point is part of the Chattahoochee Riverlands project envisioned by the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization aiming to provide parks and protect greenspaces. The Riverlands project includes proposed parks, river access points, trails, and points of access along 100 miles of the Chattahoochee beginning near Lake Lanier in Gwinnett County, and following the river south through Metro Atlanta to Chattahoochee Bend State Park near Newnan.

The Standing Peachtree Greenspace access point will serve as the northernmost section of the Camp+Paddle Trail portion of the Riverlands project. The 48-mile section of the Riverlands project includes the Buckhead access point, camping at Fulton County’s Buzzard Roost Island — which will only be accessible by kayak — along with camping at Campbellton Park in Chattahoochee Hills and a new overnight site in Chattahoochee Hills. The Camp+Paddle Trail ends at McIntosh Reserve in Carroll County. The Riverlands states this project will allow park goers four days and three nights camping and paddling along the river.

Property assessment notices hit Buckhead mailboxes in June, and many homeowners were surprised by what they found. One of our readers had the taxable value of their home more than double to over $18 million! To get a better understanding of the process, Buckhead.com sat down with the Chief Appraiser of Fulton County as well as an attorney who specializes in property tax appeals. Read on for more information on how the process works and click here to search for your assessment online. 

The average home in Fulton County saw a 15% increase in value in 2023, and assessed values went up 12% on average in the City of Atlanta compared to 2022, according to the Fulton County Tax Assessor. Despite the increase in average assessed property values, Fulton County Chief Appraiser Roderick Conley told us that 2023 is not considered a “catch-up” year.

Assessment factors

Fulton County Chief Appraiser Roderick Conley

Conley explained that numerous factors affect a property’s assessed value. “A combination of property characteristics, such as year built, square footage, bathroom count, and story height, along with the market, but it’s the market as of January 1 of the tax year.” The last part of his statement is important- the assessed value is based on the market and other factors during the PREVIOUS year. Any market fluctuation during the first half of 2023 would not have a bearing on this year’s assessments.

Jacoby Elrod, tax appeal consultant with Campbell & Brannon, notes that this is one reason some homeowners may not agree with their assessment. “Some people might argue that the market has softened a bit [in 2023]. But while inventory was low [in 2022], sales were still pretty strong in general.” Elrod continues, “And so when we’re looking at 2023 values, the county’s using 2022 sales comps. The way that process works is not the most responsive, maybe to the market, since it’s using the previous year’s data. It’s not going to respond to this spring’s market trends, for instance.”

Elrod said that higher than expected assessments seem to be more common in 2023. “We see that every year with some properties that will increase three and even four times, but it seems like this year, it’s just been a bit more widespread. It just seems to be hitting people harder than they expected, and maybe than it did in the last couple of years.”

Justified increases

Sometimes a home’s value may jump dramatically from one year to the next for good reason. If an assessment appeal is taken before the Board of Equalization, the assessed value is frozen for that year and the following two years under the 299C provision, regardless of the ruling on the appeal. 299C is the area of the state code that provides for the three-year property value freeze.

Once that value freeze has expired, Chief Appraiser Conley explains, the homeowner may be surprised the following year. “After that period of time has expired, that value comes off. It’s not an appreciation of that one year from year-to-year, it is actually a culmination of those three years.”

Remodeling, finishing a basement, or building additional square feet can also add to a property’s value. Mr. Conely and his team use mass appraisal techniques to value each property annually, and they try to complete a detailed review every three years to confirm the condition, square footage, etc., and synchronize the value with the market.

A home’s purchase price may be considered the market value the year following a sale, but that is not necessarily the case. Conley says, “You do have the ability to seek the transaction value. For example, if your property sold in 2022, [the appraised value may be] the transaction value or no higher than the transaction value for that following year.” Any remodeling or additions that are completed before the year’s end can cause the appraised value to be higher than the purchase price. Elrod says the county is not required to use the sale price as the assessed value, “But they can increase it to that, as long as they’re also increasing comparable properties in the neighborhood within a reasonable value and keeping uniformity of assessments.”  

Elrod finds it difficult to make broad conclusions about how assessments typically turn out. “I’ve seen a few increases that are big, but are supported. But then I’ve also seen a lot of increases that are large and are just not supported by any data or the market.”

Property value more than doubles

509 W Paces Ferry Rd NW Villa Juanita
Villa Juanita

Buckhead business leader Robin Loudermilk received a surprising assessment this year for his home along West Paces Ferry Road. The property, known as Villa Juanita, was last purchased in 2016 for $7.2 million. The assessed value has hovered around that price each year since the sale, including a value freeze at $7.2 million for 2020-2022. Mr. Loudermilk was “shocked and bewildered” to find his property assessed for $18,097,200 in 2023. Loudermilk said the price was “at least double what I thought it would be.”

Villa Juanita was professionally appraised twice within the past eight months for $9.75 million. With two appraisals in hand, Loudermilk says “We’re already in the appeal process, and we’ll see how it comes down.”

The most expensive home sale in Atlanta’s history, $18.1 million in 2021, is in the same neighborhood. Oddly enough, that record-setting home’s value was just over $9.5 million in 2023, according to the Fulton County Board of Assessors.

Assessment appeals

Chief Appraiser Conley emphasizes the importance of the appeal process in situations where the market appears to be significantly undervaluing or overvaluing a home. “That’s why the appeals process is so good. When someone may think we’re incorrect, whether it’s the characteristics or just the overall evaluation, you bring those things to our attention and we’ll take a look at it.” Conley and his staff want to make sure they have the correct data for accurate assessments. “There’s are lot of benefits of bringing those things to our attention. We want to make sure that the information in the data is correct, as relates to the characteristics. Then we can have a discussion as to the fair assessment of the value.”

The appeal process begins by visiting the Fulton County Assessor’s Office online. The deadline for 2023 appeals is July 24, 2023. While a homeowner can go through the appeal process on their own, there are benefits to hiring a professional like Jacoby Elrod and his colleagues at Campbell & Brannon. Even though most of the information you need for your appeal is public record, Elrod and his firm pay for additional information, such as FMLS data, that most folks don’t have access to. Elrod adds, “From my experience, the benefit of having a professional [file the appeal], or at least assist, is just knowing what to present, and how to be efficient with it.” The homeowner only gets a 10 minute hearing before the Board of Equalization (BOE), so it is definitely helpful to know exactly what to say!

Many homeowners think that simply filing an appeal grants a value freeze under the 299C provision, but the home’s value is not frozen automatically. Elrod says he perennially fields calls from frustrated homeowners who thought their value had been frozen. “They appealed the previous year, they were successful, and thought they were going to have a freeze, but it turns out, they just accepted the county’s initial value. And that did not freeze the value.”

As long as the appeal goes to the BOE, whether you win or lose, the value of your property is frozen for three years. Elrod says the homeowner can attend the BOE hearing, or simply respond to the BOE’s letter in the appropriate manner to initiate the value freeze. When you receive a notification from the BOE containing a hearing schedule, and you believe your property’s value is reasonable, reach out to the county appraiser requesting a value agreement. Make sure the value agreement mentions the 299C provision before you sign it, and your value freeze will apply.

Chief Appraiser Conley adds, “The 299c provision can also be applied should the appeal be resolved informally with staff prior to forwarding the appeal to BOE.”

Should everyone appeal?

Elrod says many taxpayers across the state appeal their assessment every three years just to have the value frozen because “that gives the homeowner a bit more knowledge and more stability knowing what their taxes are going be based on in the two years following appeal.”

That doesn’t mean that every homeowner should file an appeal. There is a chance your property value could go up if the county doesn’t have current data about square footage or other improvements on your property. County appraisers do not have the right to enter your home for an inspection, but they can walk the property to take measurements and inspect your home.

The county has 180 days to respond to an appeal according to the state code. Fulton county receives so many appeals that they are often granted an extension period. The Board of Equalization begins scheduling hearings in the early fall, and hearing dates may run into spring of next year.

What to expect after filing an appeal

Elrod describes what to expect while a homeowner is waiting for their appeal to be heard, “While the property is under appeal consideration, the default is for the temporary tax bill to be sent out. That’s also known as an “85% bill,” because it’s based on 85% of the current year’s total value, or 100% of the previous year’s total value. So essentially, the county is trying to provide some relief, in case there was a giant increase. For instance, they would use last year’s bill, just to keep the homeowner from being liable for a big bill they weren’t expecting right now. And then once the appeal is complete, the county would issue a revised final bill for any remaining amount to you. Or they would issue a refund check, like a lump sum refund.”

Time is of the essence when it comes to appealing your property value assessment. Elrod emphasizes, “The most important thing if you’re considering appeal, is probably just go ahead and get an appeal filed while the appeal window is open. Because if you miss that deadline, the county will not work with you. A taxpayer can always file an appeal on their own behalf at first, and then hire a firm like ours or another tax rep to come in and represent them later down the road if they feel like that is necessary.”

Homeowners are also advised to double check the homestead exemption on their assessment letter. Make sure your homestead exemption is listed on your notice, and confirm that the amount has been calculated correctly.

If you are interested in professional assistance with filing an appeal, Cambbell & Brannon charges a $500 administrative fee to handle your appeal, plus a 25% contingency on the first year’s tax savings. This covers all filings, valuations, and correspondence with the county, plus representation before the Board of Equalization. The contingency only applies to any savings during the first tax year, and the homeowner does not pay additional fees for subsequent years of the value freeze.

The middle school dance. A mix of awkwardness, nervousness, and hesitation permeate the air. Students dressed in their finest attire stand in clusters, attempting to hide a blend of excitement and trepidation. Who will make the first move? Hesitant feet shuffle on the dance floor, as unsure steps seek to find their rhythm.

The Buckhead real estate market in 2023 is not unlike that middle school dance, as buyers and sellers consider their options. While our market (and the Atlanta market overall) is one of the strongest in the country, the dramatic rise in mortgage rates has put many on the sidelines.

In the first half of this year, the number of single family homes sold dropped 42.5% to 274 homes sold vs 475 in the same period last year. While it is natural to see this kind of fluctuation as a lack of demand from buyers, the decline is being driven equally by seller hesitation. Prices increased by 6.9% over the same period, underscoring the opposing market pressures. Click here to see the top 10 home sales so far this year.

Buckhead Real Estate Data Deep Dive

Comparing the first half of 2023 to the first half of 2022, here are the year-over-year percentage changes for the given data:

Single Family Homes:

Condo/Townhomes:

  1st Half 20221st Half 2023
Single Family HomesTotal Sold475274
Average Sale Price$1,487,281$1,590,773
Average Days On Market4056
Condo/ TownhomesTotal Sold787461
Average Price$498,028 $473,179
Average Days On Market4149

The high-end luxury market in Buckhead is showing plenty of resilience despite the market fluctuations. While the majority of homes under $4 million involve mortgages, 80% of the homes at $4 million and above are paid for in cash. This insulates these buyers from interest rate shocks and is part of the reason that the upper end of the Buckhead market is outperforming the rest. 

Eight of the ten sales below were cash deals and two of the sales were off-market deals. Click here to read my mid-year market update. The market stats may surprise you!

The Loudermilk Estate that I sold in February is still the #1 sale of 2023 but the top ten Buckhead home sales list for the first half of 2023 is packed with beautiful homes!

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373 Argonne Drive                                                            $6,200,000

SOLD  3/33/2023
6 br / 8 ba / 9,500 Sqft
 
Light-filled European Mediterranean perfectly sited on gorgeous 1.7 acres on a beautiful Atlanta street. Front of house shows perfectly balanced architecture.

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4825 Woodvale Drive                                                           $4,995,000

SOLD  5/23/2023
6 br / 6 ba / 2 half baths / 7,700 Sqft
 
Former Design Showhouse in Sandy Springs.

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281 King Road                                                           $4,700,000

SOLD  3/13/2023
5 br / 8 ba / 6,571 Sqft
 
281 King Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30342 is a single family home that contains 6,571 sq ft and was built in 1999. It contains 5 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms. This home last sold for $4,700,000 in March 2023.

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Buckhead.com sat down for an exclusive interview with Johnson for his take on being courted by Ted Turner to lead CNN, what drew him to Buckhead, his thoughts on its future, and what keeps him “driven” into his 80’s

The bookshelves lining the office of Tom Johnson’s Buckhead home are practically overflowing with books, eye-catching mementos and photos of the famed journalist with significant world leaders like former President Lyndon B. Johnson, Fidel Castro, and Colin Powell. Johnson, 81, has collected a lifetime of such keepsakes, along with the memories of being in the room for some of the most notable moments in world history over the last six decades.

Johnson’s mementos include photos with world leaders among keepsakes
from family and friends

While working as a White House Fellow during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, Tom Johnson handed the president a note that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Johnson was present in 1991 when Mikhail Gorbachev signed his letter of resignation, effectively dismantling the USSR. In fact, Gorbachev’s pen was not working when he attempted to sign the document, so Johnson lent the outgoing USSR president his own pen to ink the resignation that altered the course of world history.

When he wasn’t directly involved, Johnson often played a leading role in sharing information with the world about many significant events of the late 20th century. After working in various roles in the Lyndon Johnson administration, Johnson, who is of no relation to the late president, was named executive director of the Texas Broadcasting Corporation, and later an editor and the publisher of the Dallas Times Herald. In 1977, he took on the role of president and publisher for one of the nation’s most notable publications, the Los Angeles Times. It was Johnson who was on the phone with Walter Cronkite during a live broadcast as the CBS Evening News host informed the nation of LBJ’s passing in 1973 .

Originally from Macon, Georgia, Johnson permanently moved to Buckhead in 1990 after being personally recruited by Ted Turner to serve as president of CNN, the 24-hour news channel that was still a novel foray into disseminating information. From 1990 to until his retirement in 2001, Johnson took on the roles of president, chairman and CEO of CNN, leading the news organization from its relative infancy to prominence, and revolutionizing the way Americans consume news.

Though Johnson retired from CNN over twenty years ago, the self-described “workaholic” is far from finished working. His bookshelves may be packed with mementos, but his desk is very much an active space, filled with manila envelopes and spiral-bound notebooks of the octogenarian’s current projects, including his extensive philanthropic work. He is also enveloped in writing a yet-to-be-named memoir and proudly showcases a notebook garnished with a photo of his wife, Edwina, pronouncing this chapter by far the most important of his memoir.

Johnson with a chapter of his memoir featuring his wife Edwina

The move to Buckhead

It was Edwina who located the Johnsons’ Buckhead home when Tom began his tenure at CNN. Johnson said Buckhead “almost marketed itself” with its positive media buzz, abundance of forestation, large lots, great schools, and of course, its convenience to his new workplace.

“Buckhead made a very good impression,” Johnson said. 

Johnson’s fondness for Buckhead has endured ever since he and Edwina discovered their home near West Paces Ferry Road more than 30 years ago. Even today, he derives immense pleasure from the sprawling 5-acre property nestled in a forested paradise, complete with a tennis court and a now-vacant chicken coop.

“It’s just right,” he said. “It is beautiful.” 

While the original appealing characteristics of Buckhead remain, Johnson said over the last 30 years traffic has become a glaring issue. “More attention” has been given to public safety in the area, although he feels some in Buckhead don’t look at crime statistics outside of the area as closely as they should for comparison. He also feels current Atlanta and Buckhead lawmakers are making positive strides in combating the issue, one of the reasons why he did not support Buckhead becoming its own municipality.

“I’m a strong opponent of breaking away from Atlanta,” he said. “I think it would be devastating for Atlanta Public Schools. I think, over time, it would not be as successful as many of the proponents believe. I’m pleased that the legislature has now voted two times not to proceed on that. I also think the proponents are not as sensitive to the potential damage to Buckhead [a separate municipality would create]. I would prefer for Atlanta and Buckhead to work, as they are today, to build and strengthen rather than trying to blow it up. I’d like to continue to work toward making it a better, stronger city. There’s just so much strong leadership in Buckhead and people who care broadly about Atlanta.”

The birth of cable news

Johnson found his way “back home” to Georgia to lead CNN after being inspired by Ted Turner. The news organization’s founder has the unique distinction of being considered a “genius” by Johnson. According to him, Turner’s ability to generate unique ideas is unparalleled, evident in his creation of a 24-hour news channel, which he later expanded globally, establishing platforms like Turner Classic Movies and CNN Airport. Additionally, he turned the Atlanta Braves into a dynasty club, secured the America’s Cup in 1977, and donated a billion dollars to the United Nations, driven by his belief that the world needed a method for addressing problems without resorting to violent conflict.

“I don’t think there’s ever been somebody quite like Ted, and I doubt there will ever be another one like him,” Johnson said. “I really loved working for him, and I remain very close to him.”

After talking with Turner, Johnson was “convinced the future of television news was CNN.” Johnson quickly had to learn the ins-and-outs of television news given his background primarily focused on print journalism. He was given a crash course when, just a few days into his tenure, then-president George H.W. Bush declared Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait “will not stand.” Johnson approached Turner about the possibility of war, and estimated that up-to-the-minute comprehensive coverage would require the news organization to spend between $5 million and $30 million over its anticipated budget.

“He said, ‘Spend whatever it takes,’” Johnson said.

CNN’s unrivaled coverage of the invasion and subsequent Gulf War helped further cement Johnson into the upper echelon of American journalism, made more impressive by his humble roots.

Modest beginnings

Johnson was born in Macon in 1941 to a financially struggling family. While attending Lanier High School, he took a job as a sports correspondent with the Macon Telegraph following local high school sports teams, reporting on games, and phoning in scores. The experience helped Johnson discover his passion for journalism. He quickly took on other roles under the guidance of more senior reporters and his editors, and later studied journalism at the University of Georgia. While working at the Macon Telegraph, he caught the eye of the newspaper’s owner, Peyton Anderson. When Anderson asked Johnson what he wanted to be, the budding journalist responded that he wanted to be a news publisher, spurring Anderson to make an extremely generous offer.

“He said, ‘in that case, you need to get a Harvard Business School degree’…and he said ‘if you can get in, I’ll pay your way’,” Johnson said. “And I did get in, and he did pay my way.”

While attending Harvard, Johnson returned to Macon for two summers with his new wife Edwina. The two had met at UGA where Edwina had been dating future legendary Auburn University football coach Pat Dye. Johnson jokes that he “prevailed” over Dye to marry Edwina, or as he sometimes calls her, “Sparkle,” based on the Dick Tracy character and Edwina being a “continually happy person.”

“She and I together have shaped our years together,” Johnson said. “There’s been no decision that has been made in all our years together that we haven’t made together.”

That soon became evident in their marriage when Edwina presented Johnson with a New York Times article covering the new White House Fellows program created by LBJ and urged him to apply.

“Now, for quite a while I thought she saw uncommon potential in me, but as much as anything, I think she didn’t want to go back to Macon,” Johnson laughed.

Johnson was accepted into the program, and the experience helped him later become the executive vice president of the media organization owned by LBJ’s family. He spent eight years with the company until it was bought by the parent company of the Los Angeles Times. Johnson wanted to return to his roots in journalism, and L.A. Times publisher Otis Chandler “created a pathway” for Johnson to become an editor and then publisher of the Dallas-Times Herald, and later the publisher and the president of the L.A. Times. He spent 17 years combined with the publications before joining CNN.

“I’ve never seen a plan for anybody quite as specific as the plan [Chandler] outlined for me, giving a young guy a chance to become an editor and publisher in Dallas and to become president and perhaps publisher in Los Angeles,” Johnson said. “But he saw in me, I guess, the potential to rise within his own organization. And I did.”

Johnson credits Chandler as one of several people who helped him carve out his successful career. The first was his mother, who saw her son’s potential and instilled in him an ethic of “work hard and do right” to accomplish anything he set out to do. He also credits Edwina, Macon Telegraph publisher Anderson, former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers, former President Johnson, and Turner.

Giving back

With such strong influences and those willing to assist Johnson throughout his life and career, he now has turned his attention to helping others.

“I believe as a result of all that’s been done for me that I will do everything I can for others,” he said. “I want to do it privately…but I really want to make sure in my last two ‘innings’ I do as much for others as I can possibly do.”

Johnson is dedicated to helping others through philanthropy and mentorship

These ventures include considerable philanthropic efforts, with the Peyton Anderson Foundation, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, the LBJ Foundation, the Mayo Clinic Foundation, and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Johnson has a particular focus on cancer research and treatment — his wife Edwina is a multiple myeloma survivor — and mental health issues, particularly depression and substance abuse. Johnson has been candid about his past struggles with depression, and is a strong advocate for talk therapy, proper mental health diagnosis, and providing advisors to school-aged children and teens at every school, both public and private.

These endeavors continue Johnson’s “workaholic” tendencies, which he says can be a positive attribute, but he “does not recommend” the lifestyle. A significant regret he has is not being more present when his children were young. For that, he is even more thankful for Edwina steering the family ship during those times. Between his extensive volunteerism and as he sets out to pen his memoir, Johnson shows no signs of slowing down.

“I was born driven, and I can’t stop being driven,” Johnson said, perhaps cementing the name for his memoir in the statement.

A winding drive leads to the gated entrance of 1823 River Forest Road. The location is ideal, set in the heart of Buckhead’s prestigious Paces neighborhood on one of the best streets! Beyond the gates you will find a stately brick home with a classic rocking chair front porch situated on over 2 wooded acres. A private well provides water for irrigation, and the home includes a whole-house generator.

The back of the home is built for seasonal fun and entertaining, with an in-ground pool, patio, and generous wrap-around deck overlooking the beautiful greenery.  In addition to the attached 2-car garage, a separate garage provides an additional enclosed parking space.

Main Level 

Once inside, the two-story foyer provides access to the formal living and dining rooms, and other common areas. The formal living room features a fireplace with access to the deck.

Along the rear of the home, the spacious eat-in kitchen has a warm farm-house vibe featuring wood beams, wood floors and brick accent walls, and a lovely breakfast room. White cabinets and counters line the kitchen providing an abundance of storage and food prep areas.

The inviting sunroom will undoubtedly be your favorite room! It spans the entire back of the home, and provides natural light through skylights and a wall of windows overlooking the pool and patio. Family and guests will enjoy dining, relaxing, and entertaining in this bright open space.

The family room has deck access, a convenient powder room, and a deluxe bar area.

Owners’ Suite 

The owner’s suite on the second floor has an oversized bedroom with a fireplace, multiple closets, and plenty of room for a seating area. An ensuite main bath features double vanities, a soaking tub, and separate shower.

Upper  Level

Three additional bedroom suites occupy the remainder of the upper level. Each suite has a generous closet and ensuite bath access, with two bedrooms sharing a Jack & Jill bath. Keep an eye out for the ladder to a hidden play room!

Terrace Level 

Downstairs you will find a large family room/ bonus room with an exterior entry and a full bath. There is a bedroom that makes a great private home office, and a large workshop space as well.

Paces Neighborhood

Driving down many streets in the Paces neighborhood, it would be easy to imagine yourself in the hills of North Georgia. The neighborhood has rolling topography, dense forest, and secluded properties. Then, you crest a hill and see the entire Atlanta skyline peeking above the tree line, a reminder that you are a few minutes from just about anywhere in Buckhead, Midtown, or Downtown! This embodies what Buckhead is really about, a wonderful quality of life combined with the conveniences of a modern city at your doorstep … or front gate.

Georgia Power has plans to bury electric lines in several Buckhead neighborhoods starting this year as part of a multibillion-dollar plan to reduce blackouts. First, they need to secure the necessary easement by winning over property owners in the path of the project.

Buckhead’s impressive urban forest is a huge civic asset, but also means that storms – like the remnant of Hurricane Irma in 2017 – often topple trees into power lines. Burying – or “undergrounding” – the lines is a way to avoid that problem.

“Placing power lines underground makes the grid more resilient because they’re less vulnerable to storms and wind, but it’s not fault-proof,” said Georgia Power spokesperson Marie Bertot. “In areas prone to flooding, digging, root vegetation and other underground activity, it’s not always an option.”

Undergrounding is sometimes done for aesthetic reasons as well. But the Buckhead plan will leave existing poles standing to carry lines from the street to houses and businesses, and for use by telecommunications companies (AT&T, Comcast). According to one source, additional poles will actually be added to deal with the new web of connections. In rare cases where neither Georgia Power nor the telecommunications companies are using a power pole, it will be removed.

In addition, the underground system requires a series of transformers housed in familiar green metal boxes that will be installed in front yards and along sidewalks, so many residents will be hearing from Georgia Power contractors about purchasing easements for those devices.

The local work will cover the Paces Ferry, West Paces Ferry, and Powers Ferry roads corridors in such western neighborhoods as Chastain Park, Paces and Tuxedo Park, as well as part of North Buckhead between Ivy and Wieuca roads. Georgia Power aims to begin construction this spring and summer, with the work lasting approximately 12 months. 

The work is just one part of Georgia Power’s “Grid Investment Plan,” a major, multiyear project of systemwide improvements. The goals are improving the reliability of Georgia’s electric grid and lessening the impact of any failures. The company is about two years in the first phase, for which it is spending $1.3 billion. 

Improvements are not performed randomly. “We are making strategic grid investments, selecting project locations based on historical service and performance data to ensure that we are putting our resources in the right places to improve reliability,” said Bertot.

The grid has two basic components: transmission, where power is sent over long distances to localities, and distribution, which is sending the electricity into your home or business. 

On the transmission side, the plan includes replacing wires and/or structures, and substation improvements as significant as full reconstruction. 

On the distribution side, undergrounding is just one of several improvement tactics. Others include: adding “automated line devices” that automatically isolate outages to smaller parts of the grid; adding connections, which can provide a backup power source; relocating lines in hard-to-reach areas so that repairs are easier; and line strengthening, which can refer to a variety of upgrades in localized spots that make damage or other failures less likely.

Buckhead is also getting automated line devices and strengthened poles, according to Georgia Power.

Many other neighborhoods, such as Druid Hills, are getting similar improvements, including undergrounding. 

Undergrounding requires various metal boxes to be set into the ground to provide power switching and delivery. In particular, a box called a “single phase transformer” has to be placed “every few homes” for delivery, according to Georgia Power’s website. Those are green boxes on a concrete pad that are roughly 26 inches high, 34 inches long and 31 inches wide. They are built on a concrete pad and need about 10 feet of clearance to be maintained on all sides.

There is not sufficient space for the boxes to be installed in the public right of way, which in residential areas typically means a narrow strip of lawn along the road. Acquisition subcontractors are now contacting residents seeking easements to install the devices, offering around $1,000 as compensation. If the initial offer is  rejected, the offer escalates quickly and significant amounts have been reported.

Before and after undergrounding diagram from Georgia Power showing how poles will remain in place and transformer boxes added.

The easements are all voluntary, according to Georgia Power, though it is less clear what happens if property owners refuse, especially on an entire street. The company’s answer is that in such cases it would “explore other project alternatives.”

The company says it aims for “minimal disruption” in installing such devices. But the work might require trimming trees, removing landscaping and digging up sidewalks and road trenching. Landscaping and sidewalks would be replaced by the company.

The undergrounding affects only the main distribution line, not the lines going to individual properties, so poles will remain for that purpose. Georgia Power also says it notifies telecommunications companies that may also use the poles about the work, but can’t control whether they also choose to bury lines. Any pole used purely for carrying a Georgia Power distribution line would be removed after the undergrounding.

Georgia Power provides extensive information about the Grid Improvement Plan – including frequently asked questions and construction maps – on its website.

Neighborhood undergrounding plans

The following are the general areas and timelines for undergrounding of lines in Buckhead, according to Georgia Power. All of the general areas include “most side streets in the area.”

Dozens of local and nationally-known decorators have descended on Buckhead to create not one, but THREE decorator showhomes! All three are currently available for tours and also for purchase.

Developers use showhomes to generate interest in their product, and decorators use them to attract attention to their style. Buckhead has always been fertile ground for these events but, to my knowledge, this is the first time that there have been three open at the same time. Whether you are simply looking for a fun afternoon tour with friends, decorating ideas, or are interested in buying one of the showhomes, there is something for everyone here! Contact me for a private after-hours tour if you are interested in purchasing any of these homes. Otherwise, see below for additional information, tour dates, and ticketing information.

FLOWER Magazine Showhouse - 389 Blackland Road, Buckhead

Tour Dates and Hours: Open now thru 11/27/22. Thurs-Sat 11am-5pm and Sun 1-5pm. (Closed Thanksgiving, Black Friday hours will be 1-5pm)

This showhouse is a nod to classic Regency-style and features some heavy-hitters in the design world such as Bunny Williams, Suzanne Kasler, and Ray Booth. It was designed by award-winning Atlanta architect Peter Block & Associates and was built by luxury home builder Young & Meathe. The 10,000 square foot has been decorated by 21of the design industry’s most celebrated interior designers, with the grounds coming to life at the hand of renowned Atlanta-based landscape architect John Howard. FLOWER magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Margot Shaw tapped legendary designers Charlotte Moss as the Honorary Chair and Suzanne Kasler as the Design Chair.

Tickets: Tickets are $40. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Atlanta Ballet. Purchase at  www.flowermag.com/showhouse

Images in this gallery by Emily Followill

House Beautiful’s Whole Home 2022 - 365 King Road, Buckhead

Tour Dates and Hours: December 3rd through December 17th on select days.

For the fifth year running, House Beautiful is revealing Whole Home 2022, a luxury design showcase with collaborations from the best and brightest in the industry which takes place this year in Atlanta, Georgia. In partnership with Ladisic Fine Homes, architects Pak Heydt & Associates and eleven design teams from across the country, the team completely reinvigorated the home’s 11,000 square foot 1950’s ranch-style house situated on a tree-lined street in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood.

Ariene Bethea, Jonathan Savage, Keia McSwain, Leanne Ford, Lisa Adams, Mark Williams, Niki Papadopoulos, Whittney Parkinson, Ashley Gilbreath, Zoë Feldman, Brynn Olson, Lisa Adams and DuVäl Reynolds each lent their design expertise to the home

Architect Yong Pak of Pak Heydt & Associates created a modern Tudor design which includes wings for working, dreaming, hosting, and for simply being a teenager. It took four project managers, 100 skilled tradespeople (carpenters, plumbers, roof layers, tile and wallpaper installers, and landscapers) to bring the vision to life, culminating in an astonishingly beautiful, intimate light-filled home for the modern, busy family and their guests.

 The house has multiple lounges, serene bedrooms and rooms to both entertain and unwind, and includes an outdoor kitchen and guest room with hotel-style amenities.

Tickets: The home will be open to the public December 3rd through December 17th on select days and those interested can buy tickets here for $35 and more information may be found here.

Images in this gallery and featured image above by Rustic White Interiors.

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2022 Home for the Holidays Showhouse - 914 Buckingham Circle, Buckhead

Tour Dates and Hours: Open November 17TH – December 11TH, 2022 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.— 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 — 4 p.m. Closed Monday—Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day.

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles presents their 14th annual Home for the Holidays Showhouse & Marketplace benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Not only does this wintertime tradition showcase some of the region’s most esteemed design talents, but it’s also a festive celebration of the holiday season. This new contemporary English estate in Buckhead is the latest collaboration between Harrison Design and KBD Development & Construction.

During the run of showhouse, don’t miss a lineup of inspiring events, including pop-up shops and floral demonstrations, evening Candlelight tours and more.

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at www.atlantahomesmag.shop for $40-60 and more information may be found at www.atlantaholidayhome.com

Images in this gallery by David Christensen.

Residents of Buckhead’s Paces neighborhood are urging opposition to a plan to add a ramp from I-75 directly onto Howell Mill Road.

A Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plan calls for connecting I-75’s Exit 255 at Northside Parkway to Howell Mill via a U-shaped “slip ramp.” The ramp would bypass the intersections of Northside and Howell Mill. A public comment period on the plan runs through Nov. 14.

GDOT claims in a presentation that the ramp is needed to lessen collisions and backups at the Northside Parkway intersection both now and following future development. The Paces Civic Association (PCA) is among neighborhood groups saying there’s no evidence the Howell Mill ramp would help, and they’re concerned about stormwater runoff. 

“This project is proposed to relieve the existing excessive vehicular congestion, reduce traffic crashes, and prepare for an increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic of a quickly developing portion of the City of Atlanta,” says a GDOT presentation.

“The proposed project would cause substantial harm to our community due to the tremendous amount of water that would be routed into Nancy Creek/Peachtree Creek,” said Marie Macadam, the PCA’s vice president of community planning, in a Nov. 4 email to members. “Properties adjacent to these waterways would inevitably incur substantially more flooding than currently exists. In addition, the already bad sewer spills experienced on some lots could multiply as well.”

Community groups rejected a similar proposal in 2020, the PCA says, amid concerns the ramp really was intended to serve nearby private development. The PCA did not respond to a comment request about that.

“This is the same project that we defeated in 2020,” Macadam said in the email. “Our goal is to defeat the project again. To achieve that goal, we need support from all the neighborhoods and neighbors, even those that are not directly impacted.”

A GDOT spokesperson could not immediately comment on the development claim and the stormwater concerns. GDOT’s presentation includes general information about the agency’s standards for handling stormwater.

GDOT says the project would cost $600,000 and is slated for construction in fiscal year 2025. 

Comments can be sent to GDOT through Nov. 14 at this link.

The ramp proposal comes as GDOT recently drew controversy with another, much larger plan near Buckhead: widenings, pedestrian access features and other changes to a long stretch of Northside Drive roughly between I-20 at Atlanta University Center and I-75 on the Buckhead border.

It is an iconic home at the corner of Davis Drive and Northside Drive. From this vantage point passing motorists catch a glimpse of “Round Hill”, home of the late Charlie Loudermilk. A front lawn longer than an NFL field is lined by an avenue of trees on either side, framing a stately limestone facade and a life-size statue of a Buck. Like the man for whom this sprawling estate was built, it is larger than life.

Charlie Loudermilk portrait by Rossin. Courtesy of rossinartstudio.com

Situated on a serene 14+ acres at 825 Davis Drive, it is the largest property available in the Buckhead area and is being offered for sale for the first time ever by Buckhead Realtor, Ben Hirsh. “It is a real honor to be chosen to represent such an amazing property,” said Hirsh. “I had the privilege of knowing Charlie and spending time with him here at his home. He loved this place dearly, and I look forward to finding the next owner who will make it their home.”

The home was designed by William T. Baker for Loudermilk with significant influence from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia, at twice the scale. “The scale and quality of construction of this home is extraordinary,” said Baker. “The quality and quantity of hand-carved limestone, the slate roof from Vermont, and wood-mould bricks would be very hard to replicate today. Even if you could, it would cost well over $1000 per foot to build.”

The 15,000 square foot home was constructed by Jerry Bonnor and completed in 1999. The grounds include 14+ usable acres. Paths winding through the wooded property connect various improvements which include a fishing pond, waterfall, greenhouse, garden beds, an old log cabin that was once a hunting lodge, and a barn.”This is an heirloom-quality property,” added Hirsh. “A rare opportunity that you have only one shot at.” For more photos and information, contact Ben Hirsh and click here.


Click Here to View the Listing

It is hard to imagine a quieter or more peaceful setting than where 115 E Chambord sits on a culdesac off of Davis Drive, surrounded by large estates. The home is classic, stately and elegant, with warm and inviting spaces your family will love. The current owner/designer has kept the home updated and renovated through several decades of ownership, with Spitzmiller and Norris assisting on renovations and the guesthouse addition.

The carefully designed gardens include a large lawn, a rose garden, and a woodland garden with extensive pathways. The lush pool courtyard is the perfect place to both relax and entertain.

Around the side of the home, a large motor court connects the five garages (three are air-conditioned!). A beautiful breezeway connects the detached 3-car garage, guest apartment and a flower arranging workshop to the main house. You will appreciate the convenience and sustainability of many features such as the private well, and a generator in case of an outage.

Main Level

Intricate millwork and other fine details are found throughout the home. The grand entry foyer leads to the formal dining room and the central hallway. The living room is a bright space features a wall of French door that open onto the sun porch and the pool terrace beyond. On the way to the kitchen you’ll find a wet bar that is great for entertaining on the main level as well as the pool terrace.

They say the kitchen is the heart of a home, and this totally updated kitchen makes a convincing argument for that idea! High end Wolf appliances, huge center island with counter seating, and a bright breakfast area are only the beginning. Skylights in the vaulted ship-lap ceiling flood the large space with natural light. Custom cabinets and a walk-in pantry provide ample storage.

A two-sided stone fireplace connects the kitchen to the family room, with its vaulted ceiling, window seat, and built-in book cases. It displays a depth of character that is so hard to find in homes today!

Owners’ Suite

Down the central hallway on the main level you’ll pass the private study on your way to the owners’ suite. The main bedroom features ample space for a sitting room and more, a fireplace, and access to the sun porch and the pool terrace.

A large walk-in closet with custom built-ins leads to the luxurious master bath with soaking tub, dual vanities, and gorgeous view of the natural surroundings.

Upper level

Access the upper level from the grand main staircase, or a second staircase near the kitchen. Upstairs you’ll find three generous bedroom suites, a huge finished storage/closet space, and easy access to the attic spaces.

Two bedrooms have ensuite baths and large closets. The third has a private sitting room, and a closet large enough to function as a nursery!

Terrace Level

The finished terrace level has many spaces that will surprise you. A large family room with a dining area leads to the rec room. In the rec room you’ll find a stone fireplace, full kitchen, and access to a lovely brick patio and back yard.

A full bedroom suite is adjacent to the rec room, and down the hall you’ll find the dance studio, home gym, and multiple storage rooms.

Guest house

The detached garage is referred to as the “guest house”, and it’s easy to see why. The driveway level has a large storage room and a full garden workshop with a utility sink and direct access to the garden.

The upper level centers around a large main studio bedroom, with a separate office area, kitchen, and full ensuite bath. The guest house also makes the perfect headquarters for your home-based business.

Sandy Springs ITP Neighborhood

There are many reasons why Sandy Springs addresses inside the perimeter are highly desirable, attracting business magnates and international superstars. The beautiful estates offer privacy and tranquility, but the quiet neighborhoods are a stone’s throw from the restaurants, shopping, great schools, and activities that make Buckhead and Sandy Springs such great places to live.

Buckhead’s best hiking and recreation is right around the corner. The Chattahoochee River National Park includes 400 acres of pristine wildlife with 10+ miles of hiking trails, stunning views, and opportunities for water sports such as rafting, kayaking, tubing, and fishing on the Chattahoochee River. Chastain Park offers golf, team sports, a horse park, and much more.

Is it possible for a real estate market to be too good for its own good?

Interest rate increases have done little to dampen the Buckhead housing market during the first quarter of 2022. Instead, demand has continued to be stronger than the supply of available homes. The top 10 homes sold during the first three months of this year start at $4.5 million and increase from there! Buyers from western and northeastern states continue to add to robust local demand, resulting in an increasing number of bidding wars over homes that have the right features and are properly priced. I have seen several situations where prices have been bid up $300,000 to $500,000 above the asking price…these are the stories we used to hear about the market in NYC or San Francisco, but now it is here in Buckhead.

So back to the original question: Is it possible for a real estate market to be too good for its own good? I do not have the answer and I am not able to predict the direction of a market being driven by unprecedented circumstances. Only time and hindsight can tell, but from where we stand today, there is no end in sight.

The Stats

164 single family homes were sold in Buckhead in the first quarter of 2022. The top of the market was a $9.3 million home, while the average Buckhead home sale closed at $1.5 million.

The condo market in Buckhead is strong, with 352 sold in Q1. Condo sale prices ranged from $107,000 to $4.5 million. The average condo sold in Buckhead was a 1,439 square foot unit for $455,7167.

The Top 10

#1

4725 Northside Drive                                                                  $9,350,000

SOLD  3/25/2022
7 br / 9 ba / 3 half bath / 15,000 Sqft / 6.5 Acres  

#2

2845 Normandy Drive                                                                 $6,500,000

SOLD 3/11/2022
6 br / 6 ba / 2 half bath / 9,278 Sqft / 1.52 Acres
 
 

#3

3629 Tuxedo Road                                                                        $5,400,000

SOLD 2/4/2022
5 br / 6 ba / 3 half bath / 9,049 Sqft / 1.16 Acres
 
 

#4

St Regis, Unit 2220                                                                       $5,300,000

SOLD 3/28/2022
3 br / 3 ba /  4,451 Sqft
 

#5

3785 Paces Ferry Road                                                                $4,900,000

SOLD 3/18/2022
6 br / 6 ba / 2 half bath / 10,020 Sqft / 4.84 Acres
 
 

#6

3627 Tuxedo Road                                                                        $4,800,000

SOLD 3/14/2022
5 br / 5 ba / 2 half bath / 6,250 Sqft / 1 Acre
 
 

#7

3190 Ridgewood Road                                                                $4,750,000

SOLD 1/21/2022
7 br / 9 ba / 2 half bath / 13,530 Sqft / 2.06 Acres
 
 

#8

1724 Randall Mill Way                                                                $4,682,500

SOLD 2/18/2022
6 br / 6 ba / 3 half bath / 9,864 Sqft / 1 Acre
 
 

#9

41 Muscogee Avenue                                                                   $4,675,000

SOLD 1/26/2022
6 br / 6 ba / 1 half bath / 10,500 Sqft / 1.88 Acres
 
 

#10

St Regis, Unit 1430                                                                       $4,500,000

SOLD 2/16/2022
3 br / 3 ba / 1 half bath / 3,807 Sqft