On the cover of the 2019 Buckhead Guidebook, a photograph of Buckhead’s skyline from 1988 is juxtaposed to one from 2018.

The two photographs are taken from the same angle at the same height at the same time of day. In the earlier picture, real estate developer Charlie Ackerman’s Tower Place rises above the tree line, a lonely sentinel looking out over Buckhead from the right side of the photograph. It rests on a verdant field, the reflective glass and cantilevered design unlike anything for miles around.

In the 2018 photo, it is barely visible, hemmed in by buildings that are taller and more imposing on all sides. You have to study the second image to find Tower Place behind Terminus 200, Cousins Properties’ 25-story office building near the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont roads completed in 2009. In every direction, skyscrapers have redefined the landscape.

It takes the side-by-side images to comprehend what has happened here over the last 30 years: growth, growth and more growth.

In January, Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell and Executive Vice President Garth Peters welcomed a who’s who of Atlanta to the organization’s annual luncheon, which included Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and our new governor, Brian Kemp. Our editor covered the event in these pages, but my tack today is to dig into the Buckhead Guidebook, which the coalition made available following the luncheon at 103 West.

Here are some fast facts on our community, courtesy the annual guidebook, which is available anywhere books are sold for $7. As a resident and a columnist, I find these numbers fascinating if not a little mind boggling.

I’ll start with the 30,000-foot view of Buckhead. There are 23 million square feet of office space, 29,463 apartment rental units, 18,281 single-family homes, 6,576 hotel rooms, more than 1,500 retail outlets and more than 300 places to eat. Nearly 97,000 people live here, with a daytime population of over 171,000.

Buckhead makes up about 20 percent of the city of Atlanta’s land area and population and pays about 45 percent of its ad valorem taxes.

Over the last six years, the number of rental apartments has exploded by 126 percent, an average increase of 21 percent every year going back to 2012. The largest apartment community is Post Alexander on Alexander Road with 647 units.

Three-hundred ninety-one single-family homes valued at under $1 million were sold in 2018. There were 294 sales of single family homes exceeding $1 million. The average sales price was $1.14 million.

The largest office building is the Atlanta Financial Center (which is technically divided into three buildings) at more than 900,000 square feet. The largest employer (for now) is AT&T, which employs 15,400. Bisnow, a real estate news website, announced late last year AT&T is planning on vacating two of its Buckhead offices, one on Lenox Park Boulevard and the other at the Lindbergh MARTA station.

The Chastain Park neighborhood has the highest median household income, $460,280.

The largest school is North Atlanta High School, with about 1,980 students. The Westminster Schools is the largest private school with an enrollment of 1,870. I’ll note here Westminster includes a kindergarten and lower, middle and upper schools.

The largest Presbyterian congregation in the country is in Buckhead: Peachtree Presbyterian.

Three of the best restaurants in the country, according to OpenTable.com, are in Buckhead: Umi, Bones and La Grotta.

With 510 rooms, The Whitley (formerly Buckhead’s Ritz-Carlton) is the largest hotel.

The best attended public event, the lighting of the Christmas tree on top of Macy’s at Lenox Square, draws more than 100,000 people. Lenox also happens to be the largest retail center at 1.56 million square feet. Total retail sales for all of Buckhead in 2018 exceeded $4.4 billion.

This one surprised me. As readers know, I take advantage of our parks on a regular basis. Outside of Memorial and Chastain parks, I assumed the largest was Whitewater Creek in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. At 15.2 acres, it is tiny compared to some of the others, especially Standing Peachtree Park on Ridgewood Road in southwest Buckhead, which the coalition lists at 95.6 acres.

That must include the city of Atlanta Waterworks, which is fenced.

The guidebook is filled with more — so much more. It will leave your head spinning. I imagine that wasn’t the case 30 years ago, when you could have given a decent snapshot of the community over three or four pages.

The guidebook is 128 pages.

Buckhead resident Thornton Kennedy is the president of PR South, a public relations firm, and a former news editor of this paper. He can be reached at tkennedy@prsouth.net.


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