Over the past few years, there’s been some debate over wether or not Ponce City Market and its surrounding attractions are successfully gentrifying the area and, if they are in fact gentrifying the area, wether or not it’s actually doing any good for the city of Atlanta. Whenever I visited Ponce City Market, I had to walk through Old Fourth Ward to get there, and the contrast that I observed was amazing. As soon as I got to the area surrounding the market, I could tell that the cost of living had grown because of the appearance of beautiful parks and nicer apartments. It was also clear, based off of the construction, that the aesthetic of the area around Ponce City Market was growing into Old Fourth Ward, which means that it will probably continue to expand.
Old Fourth Ward has historically been a majority low income and African American neighborhood, and projects like Ponce City Market, although contributing to the growth and urbanization of Atlanta, also threaten to push out a group of people who have greatly contributed to the history and culture of Old Fourth Ward.
The fact that Ponce City Market caters to people with higher incomes is also clear when going inside of the market. High end clothing stores and restaurants are everywhere, and you probably won’t be able to find a decent meal for under $10. There’s even an amusement park on the roof, and the apartments in Ponce City Market can get up to $1500 a month for a 12 month lease, which is way higher than any apartment you’ll find in the center of Old Fourth Ward.
There are also questionable things about the funding for the area. Take for example how the BeltLine is planning on funding itself. The plan is for the BeltLine to fund itself using a mechanism called a Tax Allocation District (TAD), which is essentially a plan that shaves off some of the money that’s anticipated from future increase in property taxes to be used on the construction of the BeltLine. Basically, the BeltLine and the surrounding attractions, including Ponce City Market, were built with the distinct plan of raising property taxes, which is obviously a key factor in gentrification, so it’s not like the gentrification caused by the BeltLine and Ponce City Market isn’t intentional.
Ponce City Market is in the middle of some very difficult conflicts, and what it all comes down to is wether or not a person sees the gentrification of Old Fourth Ward as a positive or a negative. Although there are cons to Ponce City Market, it’s still true that it’s contributing greatly to the development of Atlanta, and it’s also true that it’s a comfortable and light hearted place where people can come to shop, eat, and just relax. Whatever happens in the future, Ponce City Market will remain an influential piece of Atlanta’s built environment.