In the continuing saga to a new life in the Flats at Ponce City Market, the next logical step was to see the status of the new digs. For three years Jamestown has been working on a massive renovation of the the nearly 100 year old Sears building (and by the way, one of the largest Sears ever built). For three months the staff in the residential rental office have entertained 100’s of potential residents but, as expected, many had not yet signed a lease. If you think about, who would sign a lease on something you can’t occupy for months? I just discovered there has been a delay and I won’t be able to move in until early October.
To reduce to growing anxiety of those of us who are already signed and chomping at the bit to get in and to reassure the more timid who have not yet agreed to sign, the Jamestown team have started throwing soirees and holding limited building tours and so we could see a completed model.
I have made a point to go to all the events and am beginning to get to know my (soon-to-be) new neighbors. On the occasion of the first of these events, I pulled into the still in progress parking lot off of Ponce de Leon and carefully stepped onto the plywood boards over muddy sidewalks. I wondered who I’d meet at this first ‘tenants social.’ Once my eyes adjusted to the dark cavernous space I took my first look at the soon to be the ‘food court’. Right now it is only a dusty corridor with metal wall studs, dimly lit by the fading sun, however it was a magical space and I tried not to smile too wide and give away my almost childlike giddiness as I looked at the renderings that Jamestown had provided for the less imaginative.
Paper name tags differentiated ‘us’ tenants from ‘them’ Jamestown staff in metal name tags, and one of ‘them’ quickly handed me a glass of Champagne and cheerfully advised that the tour would start soon.
I made my way into the apprehensive but eager sea of paper name tags. It was time to meet the neighbors! What would they be like – my new neighbors? After two hours of hiking up dusty stairs in single file, sharing gorgeous roof top views, helping each other traipse through littered corridors and in and out of freight elevators, telling each other our ‘how we got here’ stories, refiling plastic champagne flutes, toasting our new relationships and sampling delicious food from the, soon to be, food court tenants, I was ridiculously happy with the people I had met.
We had already bonded on this hot, muggy Atlanta evening, we adventures, we pioneers. We each identified our apartment numbers and locations and tentative move in dates. We strained to see out of dust covered windows and point in the approximate areas of our apartments in process. We laughingly agreed that, with such fantastic food in the building, the only purpose for our tiny refrigerators would be to hold leftovers.
To my delight, the ‘firsters’ were not all 20-somethings just starting their professional life and wanting the ‘hip’ Atlanta intown experience, although I certainly met them. Many were surprisingly like me.
As we munched on yummy samples offered by food vendors who had already signed on, I met my new neighbors and they were all of Atlanta. I met young and old(er). I met white and black. I met work from home and work OTP. I met single and married or heading that direction. I met native and new comers. I met people living in the homes of family or friends, with everything in storage, waiting – just like me and Loki. I met retiring and moving to a new phase in life. I met fresh out of college and starting a new life. I met adventuresome souls with spirits longing to live in a new way. I was pleased, but not surprised, to learn that PCM Flats ‘firsters’ would come from an adventurous and hardy stock. Like me! It had been an evening of pleasant surprises, but I had one more to go.
I wasn’t expecting Annie’s tears as she thanked us tenants for coming. As she tentatively held the microphone and welcomed us on behalf of the Jamestown team, she confessed she had been wondering for three years what we would look like, who we would be and where we would come from. When she finally saw us standing before her, a sea of happy faces, she was moved to tears. I could hardly contain my own emotions. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for the depth of pride and commitment felt by the redevelopment team. How about that? The women and men who work day in and out to restore this historic building, breathing its dust, living to see it transformed into a new glory, had been thinking about us, too! Then it hit me, of course, this team had spent years thinking about us. Who would be taking the keys to this dream house they were building? I was confident they had seen what I had seen and like it as much as I. We were in good hands. So I had another scoop of gelato. More firsts for me and Loki as we prepare for our new life inside the PCM Flats.