Why Portman decided to part with AmericasMart
May 15 was an emotional day for Jeff Portman, who was about to announce the sale of downtown Atlanta’s AmericasMart — the first project ever developed by his father, the renowned architect John Portman.
Just a few months before, at a memorial service in AmericasMart’s soaring, futuristic atrium, the younger Portman had said goodbye to his father, who died Dec. 29 at 93 years old having achieved international fame. The service drew hundreds, including former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who rose to speak, took a moment to absorb the atrium’s grand design and said John Portman may not have been much for organized religion, but he sure knew how to turn the world into a cathedral.
“You’re talking about a 60-year-old business that has been a constant economic engine,” said A.J. Robinson, once the president of Portman Holdings, now the head of Central Atlanta Progress. “The hospitality industry wouldn’t have been as robust without it. Downtown wouldn’t have grown at the rate it did.”
“It’s not every day one of the largest real estate companies in the world decides to invest in your downtown,” Robinson said.
Portman echoed that sentiment. “This has always been about the city. It’s about Atlanta. It’s about making it a better place to live,” he says.
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