Bustling construction crews, the screams of circular saws, and an unseasonably merciful August wind fill the 24th-floor penthouse of the Lilli Midtown before the windows are installed. Taking in views from Stone Mountain to his father’s titanic downtown towers, developer Jarel Portman waxes philosophic about the importance of design in maturing cities.
“We see buildings as artistic sculptures, and we want to do things that people look at and go, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting and thoughtful,’” says Portman. “This city is on fire, and it deserves everyone elevating the bar.”
As founder of JPX Works, Portman has raised more than $200 million since launching the company with Bruce Fernald in 2011. The company’s Inman Quarter mixed-use development remade the commercial core of Inman Park, and Jarel says profits from its $72.5 million sale were poured into JPX’s ongoing ventures: the Lilli apartments and luxe condos called Emerson under construction in Buckhead, with unit prices starting at $2.2 million.
Designed by New York’s ODA architects, Lilli is a puzzle of pure-white, aluminum-composite panels and recessed balconies that shift positions from floor to floor. Rather than add parking, JPX built a bridge to an underutilized deck next door.
Portman says his father, John Portman, has given his thumbs-up to both projects—“and he’s a tough grader!”
This article originally appeared in our November 2017 issue.