John Williams, Prominent Atlanta Apartment Developer and Founder of Post Properties, Dies at 75

John Williams was the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Preferred Apartment Communities Inc. (PAC). (Photo courtesy of PAC Twitter account) John Williams was the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Preferred Apartment Communities Inc. (PAC). (Photo courtesy of PAC Twitter account)

Atlanta — Renowned Atlanta apartment developer John A. Williams died Monday, April 16 at the age of 75.

Williams founded Post Properties in 1970 and took the company public in 1993. When he resigned as chairman in 2003, the company had roughly 30,000 apartment units in its portfolio. In 2016, Memphis-based Mid-America Apartment Communities (MAA) acquired Post in a deal valued at nearly $4 billion.

Life After Post
Preferred Apartment Communities Inc., (PAC) the company Williams founded after leaving Post, released a statement Monday saying employees are saddened to announce the unexpected passing of their company’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. PAC is the parent company of Preferred Campus Communities and Preferred Campus Management.

“The board and the company are indebted to Williams for his strong leadership, real estate vision, outgoing personality and boundless energy,” said PAC in the statement.

PAC’s board of directors has appointed Daniel DuPree to succeed Williams as chairman of the board and CEO. Leonard Silverstein, a co-founder of the company along with Williams, has been appointed vice chairman of the board and will continue as president and chief operating officer.

“John was a dear friend, partner, mentor and influence in our lives and careers,” said Silverstein and DuPree in a joint statement. “He was a visionary and understood the importance of creating a company that is built on culture, associates, reputation and brand. We are committed to continuing John’s vision to create the preeminent real estate investment trust in the United States.”

Williams’ Legacy
Over the course of his career, Williams directed and coordinated the development, construction and management of more than $15 billion in real estate developments, according to PAC. Approximately $5.5 billion of this activity focused on multifamily housing, with the rest in hotels, condominiums and offices.

“Atlanta has suffered a great loss,” Mark Toro, managing partner of North American Properties (NAP), tweeted Monday evening. The Atlanta-based development company is behind prominent projects in the metro Atlanta area, including the 86-acre Avalon mixed-use development in Alpharetta and the redevelopment of Colony Square in Midtown.

A philanthropist, Williams was the founder and past chairman of the Cumberland County Community Improvement District (CID) and served on numerous business and community boards throughout the metro Atlanta area.

While serving as chairman of the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority, Williams led the effort to build the $200 million Exhibition Meeting Venue and Ballroom complex, as well as the $150 million Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The 2,800-seat main theater is named “The John A. Williams Theatre.”

In addition, Williams served on the board of directors of the Atlanta Falcons, of which he was also a minority owner.

“John was an extraordinary leader, counselor and friend to so many and will always be counted among the most important business figures in the history of Atlanta for his unmatched vision and acumen in real estate,” said Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, in a statement. “It was John who introduced me to Rankin Smith and that started the process of acquiring the Falcons.” (Smith was the previous owner of the NFL team.)

Williams received a number of accolades in his life, including The Mack Henderson Public Service Award from Cobb County and The Four Pillar Award from The Council for Quality Growth. In 2008, Williams was inducted into the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business Hall of Fame, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Management Hall of Fame.

He is widely credited with coining the phrases “smart growth,” and “live, work, play,” according to PAC.

Williams is survived by his wife, Nancy; three children, Jay, Sarah Brook and Parker; and two grandchildren, Jack and Harrison. John's son, Jay Williams, acts as president and co-founder of Haven Campus Communities.

Funeral arrangements had not been made public at the time of this writing.

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