CHaRM 1 Alex Wan Peggy Whitlow-Ratcliffe Nicholas Niespodziani

From left, District 6 Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, Live Thrive Atlanta Executive Director Peggy Whitlow-Ratcliffe and board president Nicholas Niespodziani at the April 2015 opening of the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials’ first location.

The Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) is going back to the drawing board.

Live Thrive Atlanta, the nonprofit behind the center, which opened its first location on Hill Street in southeast Atlanta in 2015, is planning to open a second location in Buckhead as early as September. In the next two years, under a plan initiated by the city of Atlanta’s public works department, two more locations are expected to open in the southwest and northwest parts of the city.

Live Thrive had hoped to use a 0.75-acre property next to Lenox Square mall for its Buckhead facility. But in a message posted to Live Thrive’s website Monday, Executive Director Peggy Whitlow Ratcliffe said in part, “Unfortunately, Live Thrive Atlanta and (Lenox owner) Simon Properties were unable to reach an agreement on the proposed site for the CHaRM facility. The strong community support we received for this potential second location has strengthened our commitment to pursuing sites in North Atlanta.”

In an interview Friday, Ratcliffe gave more details on why the Simon deal did not work out.

“It was really just about the lease term,” she said. “It’s just a business decision financially for both parties. The property is for sale, so for us to invest (there) would not be a good business decision on our part. It’s really no one’s fault but ours. … Considering our budget, long term, it was a business decision.”

Ratcliffe said she was pleased the Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit B board approved the rezoning variance application for CHaRM’s new Buckhead location at its monthly meeting June 5.

“I think we’re ready to go,” she said of the center’s plans for a new Buckhead location. “The good news from it is we got to test the waters and see what the support would be, and we had tremendous support. Everything happens for a reason. I think we’ll come out better.”

District 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook, who represents part of Buckhead, including the Simon site, said although the center’s rezoning application is in order, once an alternative Buckhead location is picked, Live Thrive would have to make sure it gets the appropriate rezoning requirements before opening there.

“Depending on where Plan B is, there may have to be some changes,” he said. “The first thing is they’ve got to find another location. So what kind of hoops and loops have to be navigated will depend on land-use and zoning specifications for that particular parcel.

“I can tell you that the public is supportive of having a facility like this (in Buckhead) that’s convenient for users. NPU B has obviously signaled it thinks it’s important via its vote on the Simon location. … Part of the beauty of the Simon location is it would have avoided any friction of nearby residents. As long as they don’t come up with a location that would create that nearby (neighbors’) friction, I don’t see any insurmountable problems.”

Ratcliffe is asking anyone with leads on a suitable Buckhead property for the center’s new location to email her at She said she’s optimistic a new site will be found soon.

“It’s not a negative,” Ratcliffe said. “It’s really a positive situation considering the support we received, and we’re ready to move forward.”

Through a spokeswoman, Robin Suggs, Simon’s area mall manager for Lenox and Phipps Plaza, declined to comment on the issue.


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