Famed developer and architect John C. Portman Jr. and partners held the formal opening ceremony Wednesday for 230 Peachtree, the redevelopment of the first office tower in his downtown landmark Peachtree Center.
The tower, originally developed in 1965, now includes a Hotel Indigo on its first 11 floors and a fine dining restaurant JP Atlanta. The upper floors in the 27-story skyscraper remain office space.
Portman’s influence on the fabric of Atlanta and its skyline can’t be overstated. He designed and developed downtown’s Westin Peachtree Plaza, the Hyatt Regency, Peachtree Center, the Marriott Marquis, the trade market giant AmericasMart and SunTrust Plaza, the home of the Fortune 500 bank and his companies.
For the past couple decades, the work of Portman and his companies has been best known internationally, including China and India. Wednesday marked the opening of the adaptive re-use of one of Portman’s early projects, and Portman got emotional talking about Peachtree Center and his affection for Atlanta.
“It was real estate development, but it was bigger than that,” he said. “Yes, I’m in love with Atlanta.”
Portman’s companies are also involved in the second phase of Georgia Tech’s Technology Square and the design of the hotel planned at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport main terminal.
Development in metro Atlanta is moving back toward the city, Portman said, and Atlanta “is on the cusp of a new renaissance.”
Portman’s companies and partners, including China Orient Summit Capital, re-acquired the tower in April 2014. The team has spent about $100 million between acquisition and redevelopment, said Portman Holdings President and CEO Ambrish Baisiwala.
“We are always scanning for deals,” he said of the opportunity to buy the building. Baisiwala said the Portman companies still had the building’s original blueprints and its engineering was well-suited to transform into a mixed-use building with a hotel.
The Hotel Indigo has 206 rooms and the office space in the building is more than 60 percent leased. As one of Portman’s calling cards, the tower features art designed by Portman both inside and outside the building.
The hotel has a direct link to AmericasMart and merchants and designers who show their wares at the 15 annual gift, apparel and home goods shows will be some of the hotel’s key customers, said AmericasMart Vice Chairman Jeffrey Portman Sr., one of John Portman’s sons.
AmericasMart generates more than 500,000 hotel room nights a year, the city’s largest single hotel room draw, Jeffrey Portman Sr. said.
The ceremony included remarks by John Portman, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, noted developer and Central Atlanta Progress chief A.J. Robinson, a former Portman Holdings executive. Another noted Atlanta developer and Aaron’s founder Charlie Loudermilk was on hand to celebrate the opening.
Robinson said Portman’s career in Atlanta is a reflection of his inspiration and commitment to his hometown.
“Inspiration plus commitment equals love,” Robinson said. “In this project and all his projects you can see his love of people and this community.”
Robinson said the 230 Peachtree progress is another example of adaptive re-use of historic that is catching on in the city, citing Ponce City Market, the Flatiron Building and the conversion of the former office tower at 250 Piedmont Avenue into an apartment building called The Office.