Growing up, Liz Gillespie spent more time outside than inside. It’s fitting then that now, as partner and vice president of marketing at North American Properties, she promotes outdoor living. “The space between the buildings—that’s where community happens,” says Gillespie, 59. “By creating intentional spaces designed for gathering, we create areas that bring like-minded people together for shared experiences.” For example, Gillespie helped transform Colony Square, once known as a dated concrete plaza on 15th Street, into the heart of Midtown, thanks to new community events, turf areas, food trucks, yoga classes, and the iconic MIDTOWN letters.
Gillespie’s other transformative projects include Avalon in Alpharetta, Revel in Gwinnett County, and High Street Atlanta in Dunwoody, destinations with a high walkability factor. She also led the turnaround of Atlantic Station, which sold in late 2015 for double its original purchase price. And although commercial real estate is a field largely dominated by men, Gillespie has become a sought-after speaker all over the world.
Back in Atlanta, she lends her expertise to organizations that share her interests. She sits on the board of MODA, the Museum of Design Atlanta, which she calls a forward-thinking, fun-sized museum that’s all about what’s new and what’s next. She’s also involved with Park Pride, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the city’s parks. “Parks encourage play, gatherings, health, and wellness,” she says. “It’s a lot like the spaces we create and program between our buildings.” Speaking of the outdoors, Gillespie lives in Midtown, in part, so she can take advantage of the city’s green spaces. Piedmont Park is her backyard. “I have a six-minute commute to my office and can walk everywhere or hop on MARTA,” says Gillespie. “I love that when I step outside my door, what’s between me and my life is not my car.”