Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) recently hosted its 161st Annual Meeting, virtually honoring efforts in the past year to drive the region’s reputation as a global competitor. MAC Board Chair, Invesco President and CEO Marty Flanagan announced three key focus areas for 2021: racial equity, public health and economic recovery. In addition, Dr. Raphael W. Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, was announced as MAC’s 2022 chair-elect, succeeding its 2021 chair-elect, Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian. Meeting attendees also heard from Gov. Brian Kemp, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Head of Google for Startups US Jewel Burks Solomon, Atlanta Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, along with a host of prominent business leaders across the region. To view a replay of the meeting and for more information, visit metroatlantachamber.com.

A rendering of Tower Square.

CBRE has released a new rendering for Phase II of its revamp of Tower Square, the former AT&T building, in Midtown. The rendering shows how renovations to the Annex and upgrades to the 28,000-square-foot Green will interact to create a collaborative, open-air environment. The Annex, which previously served as an interior mall, is being reoriented so the storefronts face and interact with West Peachtree Street. The wi-fi-enabled Green, which features patio and covered seating, comes equipped with a screen spanning more than 2,000 square feet. Last month, the team wrapped the first phase of renovations, which included lobby upgrades, exterior signage and the addition of the Green.

Hotel Colee is now open in Buckhead featuring boutique-style rooms, a rooftop pool, fitness center, lobby bar, and Whiskey Blue cocktail lounge. There’s also space in the lobby for pop-up trunk shows, and 10,000 square feet of adaptable indoor and outdoor event space. For more, visit autograph-hotels.marriott.com.

Charmaine Gibbs-West, founder of EssenceTree

Holistic beauty and lifestyle company, EssenceTree, has opened its flagship EssenceSuite in Old Fourth Ward. Long a favorite with Whole Foods and Sevananda shoppers, the brand’s brick and mortar location at 655 Highland Ave. behind Highland Bakery will offer a range of plant-based skincare products, lifestyle classes and wellness services. The company was founded in Nashville in 2005 by former Wall Street executive Charmaine Gibbs-West, who started EssenceTree as a therapeutic hobby post-9/11. For more, visit essencetree.com.

West Midtown mixed-use development 8West’s newest tenant is The Dalton Agency, the market company formally based in Midtown. The development, which features 175,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of retail space and 264 apartments, sits at the intersection of Howell Mill and 8th Street. For leasing information, visit 8westmidtown.com.

Ragtrade Atlanta recently launched a new program to support independent designers through their e-commerce site, shopsatragtrade.com. Through this program, Ragtrade and independent designers collaborate on limited-edition designs spanning luxury t-shirts, hoodies, novelty items and more that are sold exclusively at shopsatragtrade.com. The partnership provides designers with a multichannel strategy to generate additional income and maximize exposure opportunities for each independent brand. Ragtrade’s first-ever partnership is with fashion designer / illustrator Stephanie Gentry. Find out more at shopsatragtrade.com.

New primary care service Ascend Medical has launched in the Atlanta metro area, offering 24/7 telehealth and in-home medical testing. Ascend offers same-day telehealth appointments and mobile diagnostic services and testing sites for COVID-19, flu and Strep rapid tests, in addition to blood draws, x-rays and imaging services for families and employers. For more, visit ascendmedical.com.

Atlanta Wedding Extravaganza

After months of postponing and rescheduling, weddings are making a comeback in 2021, and the Virtual Atlanta Wedding Extravaganza will showcase creative ideas Jan. 23-29. Wedding professionals and vendors will be on hand all week long to advise on planning for the big day. Tickets are $10 for general admission or $20 for a VIP experience, which includes curbside pick-up of vendor gifts and a virtual lounge with exclusive deals and services. For more information, visit atlantaweddingconnection.com.

Online used car sales company Carvana sold its first vehicle in Atlanta back in 2013, so it’s only fitting that the company has opened its tallest “car vending machine” in Midtown at 166 16th St. The 12-story tower can hold 43 vehicles and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for pickip. To buy or sell a car, visit carvana.com.

Colony Square in Midtown is adding new services and retail to its tenant mix, including the newly opened American Barber Shop. Coming in the spring will be Lush Nail Bar and Sunnies, a lifestyle brand that sells designer sunglasses.

The Gayly Dose

The Gayly Dose is a new podcast for gay men by gay men co-hosted by Old Fourth Ward resident Helmut Domagalski along with Stuart Terrell, Dante Rhodes, and Bennett Schnyder. Topics on the show, which launched in November, include candid, difficult discussions ranging from gay adoption to body issues to monogamy. The podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, and other platforms. Find out more at thegaylydose.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.