Ponce City Market
The second site of the exhibit considers the life in what has now become Ponce City Market. While this site has had a long and varied past, this digital exhibit focuses mainly on the building, which much like Atlanta, seems to be constantly reinventing itself.
Ponce City Market has had multiple names during the course of its existence. Originally known as the Sears Building, this site was the distribution center for Sears’s mail order catalog business for the Southeast Region of the United States. This building was one of ten such distribution centers built between the start of the 20th century and the 1930’s. The building’s first phase was completed in 1925. Sears chose this distribution center’s location on Ponce de Leon Avenue for several reasons. One reason for its location was its easy access to the railroad. The ability to have quick direct access to America's rail network, in one of its major hub cities, made this location ideal. The second was that North Avenue and Ponce de Leon Avenue provided easy access to Atlanta’s urban core. In 1946, Sears expanded its building, riding the economic growth that dominated post war America. With the post-war construction of the Interstate System for transportation and commerce, the building and its location in the heart of the city, had no direct access to the Interstate, which combined with its location in a decaying urban neighborhood made this site no longer advantageous by the 1980s.
In 1989 Sears closed down its catalog distribution from the Sears' Building and it sat vacant for until the City of Atlanta purchased it for $12 million. The Sears' Building was revitalized as City Hall East. The city hoped to use the building and its abundant space, around 2 million square feet or so, as office space for various departments, as well as providing office space for various non-profit organizations, and a city sponsored art gallery. The dream of this massive building quickly turned into a nightmare for the city. By 1995 some politicians were questioning if the city had made a wise decision in purchasing this building. In 2003 the city began to look for buyers.
During the next seven years, the city looked in vain for buyers. Multiple times it looked like the city would not be able to unload a building that it had not realized how to use. In 2010 the city finally sold the building for $27 million to Jamestown Properties who began to redevelop it.