When it comes to pinpointing the commercial pulse of the city of Atlanta, Georgia, look no farther than the northern district of Buckhead. The neighborhood offers among the city’s best shops and dining options and in addition to drawing in visitors, it also attracts many who want to make the location their home. Like most cities, Buckhead started from modest beginnings but has enjoyed a healthy, steady rise in prominence over the two centuries it has been around.
For $650 in 1838, Henry Irby purchased the 202 ½ acres that would one day surround Buckhead’s Peachtree and Piedmont roads. It is difficult to imagine that Irby could have known that this land would one day be valued at $10,000,000 per acre in today’s market. A general store and tavern were built on the spot and people soon began referring to the development as Irbyville, in tribute to the landowner.
A nickname for the location, however, soon began vying for the official town name and, except for a brief period in the 1890s (when it was known as Atlanta Heights), the name of “Buckhead” would remain the area’s preferred name. The origin of the name Buckhead is rumored to have come from a legend that Irby had killed a large deer and placed the head of the animal at the center of his property for everyone to see. Far from its rustic beginnings, Buckhead today is among the wealthiest areas in the Southeastern U.S., listed as the second wealthiest zip code in the South of the nation in 2011.
As a testament to the wealth of the area that had grown so quickly, the construction of large estates with opulent mansions in the Georgian and Tudor styles continued from the time of the stock market crash in 1929 and through the Great Depression. One of the largest homes to be constructed in the area of Peachtree Road was the property of prominent attorney Henry Aaron Alexander. The 15,000-square-foot house, which contained more than thirty rooms and thirteen bathrooms, would decades later be razed to provide space for the construction of the Phipps Plaza Mall. What had at one time been seen as a scenic country escape from the urban life was beginning to change, all the more so when Buckhead was annexed to Atlanta in 1952.
As malls became more popular, more large estates would be split up or destroyed in order to free the land up for commercial ventures. Another prime estate, the Joyeuse, would be lost in favor of the construction of a mall, this time the Lenox Square Mall, built in 1959 and designed by modernist architect Joe Amisano. The Lenox Square Mall was considered the largest shopping center in the Southeastern United States and one of the first of its kind for the entire nation.
By the 1980s, Buckhead had become a hugely successful commercial center known for its great shopping and business opportunities. At the same time, it was building acclaim for its nightlife offerings, soon earning renown as the greatest concentration of bars and clubs in Atlanta.
Today Buckhead is most famous for its greatest number of upscale boutiques in the country. Interestingly, this is the area located between the two large malls, the Lenox Square Mall and the Phipps Plaza Mall, and centered by the historic intersection of Lomax, Peachtree and Piedmont roads. These more than 1500 retail units are known to draw in several billions of dollars to the district on an annual basis.
A secondary, but equally significant income for the district is the area’s residential market, attracting real estate investors and property owners alike. The district of Buckhead overflows with expensive condominiums, wealthy estates and luxury apartments. Of the latter, perhaps no residence is quite as notable as the St. Regis Residences, located in Buckhead Village and known by some as “the king of all Buckhead condos”. Fashioned after the Beaux Arts look of the St. Regis in New York, the structure consists of 151 hotel rooms and 53 private residences.
Peachtree Street, in fact, offers many other mid- to high-rise condominiums, including 99 East Andrews, which provides both townhome and single-family options and is located next to the Andrews Entertainment District for quick access to fun outings. These luxury apartments, such as The Sutton Buckhead, while offering close proximity to an array of Atlanta’s amenities, also tend to offer its residents extra conveniences, such as The Sutton’s concierge service. The asking prices for such valuable residences can be anywhere from $300,000 to $5 million.
Buckhead has certainly surpassed the expectations of Henry Irby, when he started his meager development so many years ago. The opportunities for shopping and dining have opened the doors for the residential market and it, too, has made Buckhead one of today’s most sought after spaces in the Southeast.