Learn About Our History
John A. Williams
1943 - 2018
John A. Williams had a passion for work, family, friends, and the City of Atlanta. John was a proud native Atlantan, iconic businessman, visionary and real estate mogul. Known as the “Apartment King,” John lived for work and took two successful companies public, shaping the multi-family industry into what it is today.
Never one to forget his humble beginnings, John was born in Thomasville, Georgia on March 19, 1943. His family then moved to southwest Atlanta, where he spent his childhood. John attended Southwest High School, from which he graduated one year early. He then put himself through Georgia Tech and graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Management.
John had a can-do attitude and never took no for an answer. He credited his success not to being smarter than anyone, but by working harder and putting in more hours than everyone else. At 26, John was working for Georgia Power selling power to apartment complexes in Metro Atlanta when he had a vision to transform traditional apartment communities by improving landscaping, security and professional management. In 1970, John founded Post Properties, Inc., a company he built from scratch to become the most recognized apartment brand in the industry at its time. He set the standard for high quality residential apartment home development, transforming the apartment industry and cityscapes around the country. John made lightning strike twice when he co-founded another company, with Lenny Silverstein, Preferred Apartment Communities. Over the course of his career, John directed and coordinated the development, construction, and management of more than $15 billion in real estate development. John was so proud of PAC, not only because of it’s incredible performance or the fact that it was his second public company, but because of its associates. John emphasized the importance of corporate culture, always pushing his associates to do their very best, get results and have fun.
John’s commitment to growth and involvement in the community ran deep and personal for him. His impact on Cobb County and the City of Atlanta was significant. John was a national leader in the urban development concept and was widely credited with coining the phrases, “Smart Growth” and “Live, Work, Play.” John received numerous awards and honors throughout his legendary career, including: the prestigious Four Pillar Award; “Entrepreneur of The Year,” by both Stanford Business School and Ernst & Young; The Wall Street Transcript “CEO Award for Commercial Real Estate;” “CEO of The Year,” by Financial World; National Real Estate Investor’s list of “The 20th Century’s Most Influential Developers;” Atlanta Business Chronicle’s award for “Atlanta Residential Developer of The Decade;” Harvard Business School’s “Community Leadership Award;” and Cobb County’s “The Mack Henderson Public Service Award.” John was inducted into the Multi-Housing News Hall of Fame; the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business Hall of Fame; and, the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Management Hall of Fame.
John was the Chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce twice and Chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He served as the President of the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Atlanta, Chairman of the Metro Business Forum, Chairman of the Regional Business Coalition. John was instrumental in creating the Community Improvement District (CID), he is the Founder and past Chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District. He was the driving force in the creation of the Cobb Galleria Center and the transformation of Marietta Square. He was on the boards of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. John served as the initial Chairman of the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority Venue and Ballroom complex. He served as an emeritus board member at The Lovett School, which all three of his children attended. John served on the board of the Atlanta Falcons, of which he was a minority owner.
John’s generosity was as legendary as his work ethic. He was giving of both his time and resources. John’s philanthropic efforts benefited many organizations throughout the city. John was heavily involved with: Georgia Tech, The Lovett School, Piedmont Hospital, Peachtree Presbyterian Church, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – where gifts were typically made in honor of others. He was particularly proud of the completion of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, the 2,800-seat theater and ballroom.