Archive for the ‘Georgia’ Category


High Museum: Salvador Dali Exhibit

August 26, 2010
Leslie Ransom, Buckhead Office, REALTOR ®

Leslie Ransom, Buckhead Office, REALTOR ®

Recently while driving through Midtown Atlanta on Peachtree Street, I noticed a very large banner hanging from The High Museum announcing an upcoming exhibit of Salvador Dali’s late works. As a teenager I attended a wonderful exhibition of Dalí’s jewelry creations in the Birmingham Museum of Art, and was captivated by his eccentric and remarkable art. My husband’s birthday was coming soon and I had been deliberating about something fun and different to give him for his birthday, Dalí and Dinner with friends! Perfect!!

The High is to be the sole venue for the first exhibition to focus on Dalí’s art after 1940. The exhibition, featuring more than 100 works including 40 paintings and a related group of drawings, prints and other Dalí ephemera, explores the artist’s enduring fascination with science, optical effects and illusionism, and his surprising connections to artists of the 1960s and 1970s such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Willem de Kooning.  Many of Dali’s pieces during this time period were ruminations on his interest in Christianity, and several of the pieces depict events from varying periods in Biblical and Christian history including the crucifixion of Jesus, the assumption of Mary, and the spiritual visions of various saints. However, true to Dali’s eccentric nature and his surrealist roots, even his depictions of these once traditional subjects for the art world are filtered through his surrealist lens and provide a fresh look on the subject. Dali mixed his depictions of Christian themes with ideas and advancements in the realms of science and physics, subjects he was also increasingly fascinated by. As a result, many of the pieces he created during this time period he labeled as “nuclear mysticism” and they are truly as unique as this description suggests. These paintings are magnificent in their scope, beautiful in their compositions, and fantastic to be able to see in person, where one can truly be impressed with the sheer size of some of his canvases and, by extension, the size of his artistic vision.

Salvador Dalí’ (1904-1989) born in Figures, Spain, is one of the most famous and controversial artists of the 20th century. He was prolific for more than 60 years, creating over 1,200 oil paintings, countless drawings, sculptures, jewelry, theatre and fashion designs, book illustrations and numerous writings.

This exhibit is a treat not to be missed. Take a friend and be sure to get the audio tour also. After seeing the Dalí’ exhibit we had a delicious dinner at Parish in Inman Park with our friends and lots of interesting discussion after seeing these very eccentric and thought provoking works!

My friend bought this replica of one of his jewelry pieces and I bought a book about Dalí.

Dalí: The Late Work is currently on display through January 9, 2011. Please visit for ticket prices and additional information.



Sustainable Homes No Longer Seen As Just A Fad

August 25, 2010

Carson Matthews, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

While Atlanta’s housing market remains stuck in low gear, the trend toward certified green or “sustainable” homes has been growing.

More builders are adopting sustainable practices and more buyers are weighing the economic benefit of paying a little extra up front for a house featuring environmentally sound design, construction standards and materials.

“Even if the economy had not gone sour, people are looking at sustainable practices and materials, not just for housing, but for the entire neighborhood,” said Sibet Freides, president of Idea Associates Inc., a marketing and consulting firm with a real estate development focus. Idea Associates clients include Reynolds Signature Communities, The Settings Development Companies LLC and Urban Land Institute.

“You might have some builders who have been in the industry for a long time who are thinking this is a passing fad, but people have bought into the concept of sustainability,” Freides said. “Younger buyers have now come to expect it and I don’t think the industry, as a whole, thinks it’s a fad anymore.”

According to a report by Carson Matthews, a Realtor with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, in the first quarter of 2010, green homes comprised 8.4 percent of the new homes on the market, which compares consistently with the 2009 total of 8.5 percent,

Matthews is a certified EcoBroker and the author of a blog,, which delivers news about green residential building in Atlanta.

In April, Matthews launched the Green MLS Toolkit, a resource that can be used by any Multiple Listing Service to track green activity.

In the first three months of 2010, Matthews reported that the median selling price of a certified green home was $494,000, which is 133.5 percent higher than a conventional new construction home; however, the report shows green homes are fetching more at closing.

“In the first quarter, green houses sold at 98 percent of list, whereas standard new construction homes sold at 92.5 percent,” Matthews said. “In the custom home market, that percentage is much higher.”

“Green building is here to stay,” said Les Stumpff, president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (GAHBA) and regional manager for Texas-based Standard Renewable Energy, which provides energy audits for homeowners, businesses and government entities.

“There is a growing awareness of how much energy and water and, therefore, money can be saved by owning a home built to some level of green-building standards,” Stumpff said.

Other benefits, such as better indoor air quality and overall comfort, will increasingly propel demand for green homes.

“The housing recession has made it more difficult to adopt building standards that increase new home prices, but builders who were building green in good times will continue to build green as housing starts return,” Stumpff said.

Although they cost a little more, the formula for building green houses is not very complicated, said Matt Hoots, founder and CEO of The Hoots Group Inc., a full-service green contractor, and co-chair of the GAHBA Green Building Council.

Together with the GAHBA, Hoots helped develop the EarthCraft House residential green-building program in partnership with Southface Energy Institute, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable homes.

“You start with a good design,” Hoots said. “You can save 30 [percent] to 40 percent in operating costs right there.”

Every aspect of the design is critical, from sighting the house on the lot to putting windows in the best location to ease the load on the HVAC system and limit the cost of blinds.

“If you only build to the standard energy-efficiency code, you’re almost building an EarthCraft-certified house,” Hoots said. “Unfortunately, a lot of builders build around the code or to barely meet code.”

As materials, utility and appliance manufacturers jump on the sustainable bandwagon, the expense gap between building green and building traditional housing is diminishing — resulting in more reasonable pricing for higher- performing homes, experts say.

Currently, Freides’ clients are building two new showcase green homes, one in The Settings of West Point Lake near LaGrange, and one at Achasta, a golf community near Dahlonega. Both houses are being built by Johnna Barrett of SUSTAIN house, the residential division of Atlanta-based architecture and interior design firm Barrett Design Inc.

“We started with a budget and we’re learning that it doesn’t have to cost that much more to build green,” Freides said.

Among other products, the green houses incorporate a radiant barrier sheathing that reportedly reduces monthly air conditioning bills by 17 percent, green bedding products, and tile and wood components made from recycled materials.

“A lot of this stuff is common sense and people need to be educated about the products and building practices that are available,” Freides said.
Read more: Sustainable homes no longer seen as just a fad – Atlanta Business Chronicle


Atlanta Escape – Montaluce (Andrea Cueny)

August 25, 2010
Andrea Cueny, REALTOR ®, North Atlanta Office 404.695.7040

Andrea Cueny, REALTOR ®, North Atlanta Office 404.695.7040

Recently my husband and I decided to have a rare but special day just the two of us….. So we turned off our phones, gave the kids to their grandparents, and headed to the North Georgia Mountains for a mini escape.

We had been told by clients who recently purchased a home of this development called Montaluce. They raved to us about the spectacular views, winery, and restaurant. So we were excited to give it a try. 

Upon arrival, we were shocked to see the vineyards so lush and full of grapes…I had to ask myself if we were in GA or Napa? Of course, GA but the vineyard was really very beautiful. 

Inside the restaurant, the foyer and entrance were stunning.  The entrance to the tasting room complete with all of their wines on the back wall was held in this dark mahogany wine shelving. The ceiling throughout the tasting room had exposed ceiling beams and the dining room was totally open with a fireplace and glass windows overlooking the vineyard.  As real estate professionals, we appreciate all the architectural details such as the fireplace with these mosaic tiles.  The windows were floor to ceiling giving an open view of the vineyard from every table in the dining room – every detail in regards to the atmosphere is so well done.  We walked out to the balcony overlooking the vineyard and this was the most perfect view and ideal place for a glass of wine.

Lunch exceeded our expectations to say the least. The food is all organic and very fresh. Fresh to the point that when we ordered the sausage flat bread our server informed us that the pig just arrived and they had not prepared the sausage yet! Wow. Not your typical answer in an Atlanta Restaurant.  They have short ribs, duck, sandwiches, salads, a variety of choices each day and a very elaborate Sunday brunch. The menu changes regularly. 

I would highly recommend Montaluce if you are looking for a mini escape from Atlanta. It is located just outside of Dahlonega and is a wonderful place for you to visit for a gourmet lunch or dinner.

For more information about Montaluce please visit their website at or call 706.867.4060


Spacious living in the heart of Decatur (Mary Jo Spence)

August 20, 2010

2470 Vivian Circle

2470 Vivian Circle

How would you like to live in a house that is immaculate and spacious enough for you to delight in being home, but close enough that you could walk to city centre of Decatur to enjoy the renowned shopping, night life and art galleries?  All this and more is found at 2470 Vivian Circle, nestled in a charming gated community.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Upon entering the French door entry, the home features a foyer that is a greeting space for guests and provides privacy for the main living areas.  The two front rooms of the house, the Dining room and the Living room, are flanked by majestic and bright floor to ceiling arched windows that fill the house with sunlight.  The Dining room, sized to entertain twelve or more guests, features grand windows wainscot to distinguish the room with a formal touch.  The Living room is cheerful and versatile which could lend itself to a wonderful home office or additional media space.

Living Room

Living Room

The Den area has gleaming hardwood floors, cozy stack stone fireplace with gas logs, overhead ceiling fan and a door leading to the outside deck.  The Kitchen features stainless steel appliances and clean contemporary lines and as a bonus, overlooks the family living area so entertaining is made more enjoyable as the host doesn’t have to miss a bit of the conversation when preparing for guests.  Food preparation is made simple with an island featuring a sink and fresh Corian countertops. Just off the kitchen there is a bright separate breakfast area that also leads to a full laundry room. 

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

You won’t feel a bit cramped in this home- the wide stairwell has a mid-stairwell landing between the main and upper floor affording space for a conversation nook!  The upstairs Master is a true in-town retreat, larger than most, and features a dramatic trey ceiling and two large walk-in closets- one located in the bath area.  The bath features a double vanity and a separate spa soaking tub.  The secondary bedrooms on the upper level all feature hardwood floors, trey ceilings and full closets. 

On the terrace level, there are two additional bedrooms.  At present, one is being used as an office and the other an exercise room, but both have full closets and share a full hall bath.  These rooms would work well as a roommate floor plan.

The outside deck has a screen for privacy.  From the deck, you can access the yard and the two full separate garage bays.  As a welcomed addition, the driveway can accommodate extra cars-a sought after feature for in-town living!

Offered at $425,000 

Five bedrooms, three full and one half baths.

Click here to view more pictures of this home.

2470 Vivian Circle
Decatur, GA 30030

Mary Jo Spence, North Atlanta Office, REALTOR®

Mary Jo Spence, North Atlanta Office, REALTOR®

Mary Jo Spence
Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty


St. Regis obtains new financing

July 29, 2010
Jenny Pruitt, CEO and Founder

Jenny Pruitt, CEO and Founder

From Atlanta Business Chronicle

 The developers of the St. Regis Atlanta have obtained new financing from blue chip investment bank Morgan Stanley, a rare sign of confidence in Atlanta’s commercial real estate market.

 The deal replaces $176.5 million in financing from Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings. The loan was originated in October 2006 to develop the St. Regis Atlanta, the 16th hotel for the historic chain, which was founded by John Jacob Astor in New York City.

The debt that financed the construction of the St. Regis Atlanta would have come due in October, according to Databank Inc., a firm that tracks real estate transactions in Atlanta.

 The development team behind the St. Regis declined to discuss the Morgan Stanley deal, but partner Kent Levenson said the original debt secured by the 26-story building involved “extremely complex financial structures.”

 The new financing involves an undisclosed investment of new equity into the St. Regis, which includes 53 high-end homes and 151 hotel rooms overlooking West Paces Ferry Road, near the intersection with Peachtree Road.

 The deal was struck despite deep problems facing the country’s luxury residential and hotel sectors amid a slow recovery from the Great Recession.

 Developers have seen real estate prices collapse since the peak, putting their buildings under water. At the same time, much of that financing is coming due amid a much stricter lending climate, forcing borrowers to put significant equity into their projects to refinance, or risk seeing those properties go back to the banks.

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2nd Quarter 2010 Atlanta Green Home Sales Report

July 15, 2010

Welcome to the 2nd Quarter 2010 Atlanta Green Home Sales Report.

Carson Matthews, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

Carson Matthews, Buckhead Office, REALTOR®

In the 2nd Quarter I am happy to announce that certified green homes represented 12.3% of the total new construction market.  This is the highest percent of market share for green homes in Atlanta since I began reporting this in 2008.  Green homes sold for 97.1% of asking price in 99 days compared to 92% of asking price for conventional new construction in 110 days on the market.

Here is a link to the 2nd Quarter 2010 Atlanta Green Home Sales Report.

This study looks at detached single family homes that were built 2007 or later and sold as “new construction”.  The Green Home Sales Report looks at homes listed between $250,000 and $2,000,000 in Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties.  The green homes have all been certified by a third party Green Building Certification including EarthCraft House, LEED for Homes, NAHB Green Building Standard and Energy Star.

Please leave your comments if you have any thoughts or questions about green home sales in Atlanta.

For historical reports, visit Atlanta Green Home Sales Reports.


Braves remain America’s third-fave team

July 14, 2010

 Taken from Atlanta Business Chronicle

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta, REALTOR®

Brenda Hamstead, North Atlanta, REALTOR®

America is the home of the Braves… and Yankees and Red Sox.

According to a new poll from Harris Interactive, the Atlanta Braves are the nation’s third favorite team in 2010, behind only the No. 1 New York Yankees and No. 2 Boston Red Sox.

The Braves were the nation’s favorite team in 1999 and has spent every year since fluctuating as either the second favorite or third favorite. The team was the third favorite last year.

Rounding out the top 10 after Atlanta are the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals.

Some 36 percent of Americans say they follow Major League Baseball, down from last year when 41 percent said they followed baseball and 40 percent said so in 2008, Harris Interactive said. Men are more likely to do so than women (46 percent versus 27 percent). Also African-Americans are more likely to be followers of the sport, compared to both Whites and Hispanics (41 percent versus 36 percent and 34 percent).

There is also a regional divide, as almost half of Easterners (48 percent) say they follow baseball, compared to 34 percent of Westerners and 29 percent of Southerners.