This enigmatic mogul owns the most valuable piece of land in the South. Nobody knows why he won’t build or sell

John Dewberry, who lays claim to 25 acres of prime space in Atlanta, is a polarizing figure

TRD WEEKEND EDITION /
Sep.September 16, 2017 10:00 AM

John Dewberry is “the most charming man you will ever meet. And he is the biggest son of a bitch you will ever meet,” said a friend and former colleague. (Wikimedia Commons/YouTube)

His name is John Dewberry; he’s got about $700 million in the bank and develops his mostly Southern portfolio using his own capital.

He currently owns 25 acres of Atlanta, which he’s been predicting will become a district like New York’s Midtown. The only thing that seems to be preventing his plan from being realized is him.

“John is two people. He is the most charming man you will ever meet. And he is the biggest son of a bitch you will ever meet,” said Steve Cesigner, Dewberry’s friend and former executive employee, to Bloomberg. While Atlanta was rezoned and private money to the tune of $4.5 billion poured in to construct offices and hotels, Dewberry developed two buildings and sat tight on the rest of his land. Competitors like the Trump Organization made offers to buy off the bulk of his Atlanta empire, but Dewberry wasn’t ready to sell or build.

He told Bloomberg it’s a matter of waiting until there’s enough pedestrian traffic in the area. Though with a large streetscaping project completed in 2000, getting people to spend time in the streets isn’t a problem in the growing city of Atlanta, which leads even more of Dewberry’s contemporaries and former colleagues to wonder what’s holding him back. [Bloomberg] — E.K. Hudson


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