Movies, Mahjong and Meals — Oh My!

Movies, Mahjong and Meals — Oh My!

It’s a Kodak moment! Longtime One River Place residents, Judy and Steve Funk.
It’s a Kodak moment! Longtime One River Place residents, Judy and Steve Funk.


You have probably driven by the unusual complex of buildings just inside I-285 and I-75 at the Powers Ferry exit adjacent to Ray’s on the River.

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Atlanta is dotted with nicely appointed residential developments; but what about One River Place attracts such a high preponderance of Jews of all ages?

In the 1990s, at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we hired a marketing sociologist consultant who hammered home the old adage: “birds of a feather flock together”.

He went on to say that “affluent retirees from Pittsburgh didn’t just move to Del Ray, Fla.; they clustered together along Jog and Atlantic Roads.” Many of us want to be where other Jews are.

Having a spa, lavish pools with water falls back dropped against elevated hard-wooded hills, vibrating couples massage chairs, outdoor kick boxing classes, bikes on loan, jazz concerts, 24-7 state of the gym, and lawn yoga don’t hurt either. “

“Atypical Jewish activities like trout fishing and beer brewing were dropped early on”, says resident Steve Funk. I know there are two Jews in outer space who like these activities, so please do not write to me about this.

Nestled along the Chattahoochee River, with the back side gated to Whitewater Creek Park, and a couple of hops to Cochran Shoals, which we call “The River”, this development hit the jackpot with a total sell out; though it didn’t start that way.

The development boasts 103 multi-level town homes (some with elevators, Juliet balconies, and / or fourth-floor Manhattan type flat rooftops), 245 condos, and 38 luxury one-level sanctuary units overlooking an Italian Piazza.

A few single family homes are currently under construction and start at $600,000. The buzz is they already have a waiting list.

The place is luxurious; and certainly doesn’t have a cookie-cutter vibe. The feel of the community meeting house is that of the Ritz Carlton at Reynolds Plantation: rustic, but modern and well appointed.

Judy Funk, a Harry Norman Realtor and one of the early residents, calls it “polish.” She has sold over 15 units and feels that Jewish buyers are looking for security, amenities, and location – it’s close to two Costcos!

“Although there is privacy if you want it, I like the village feeling of walking outside and chatting with neighbors,” says Judy, who also states that being in the Riverwood School district attracts younger Jewish families along with the migration of empty nesters who want to be near extended families.

Judy’s husband, Steve Funk, a retired Turner executive, earns kudos for keeping the Jewish heart in our community. The Funks communicate with the approximately 80 Jewish residents in the development, about half of whom attend High Holiday services and meals that they coordinate on site.

They hosted a Seder in the Pavilion and included non-Jewish residents as guests. They head a Shiva committee and can round up 10-plus people for a minyan should the need arise. The goal in 2014 is to build a sukkah. Not funny, but I told them to wait a few years on the Chevra Kadisha.


There are dogs everywhere; fountains, green space, a thriving ecological pond with cattails, frogs, tortoises and profusions of roses. Bear claw grass paves the way to outdoor night  “Movies on the Green” with a gazunta sized blow up screen. Everyone is comfy in Adirondack chairs with popcorn machines pinging in the background and dogs at their owner’s feet!

The enclosed dog park on the property and winding paths are how we all get to know each other – that is, how our dogs relate … or don’t. The concierges give out doggie treats, so the pups make a beeline for the designated jars.

When I grew up, Jews weren’t so crazy about dogs.

My father, may he rest in peace, wouldn’t allow it. Here we have ‘Yappy Hour’ with gourmet treats for humans and canines, ‘Puppy Proms’, and an in-house service that will walk your dog when you are away too long.

I read that the number one way New Yorkers meet new people is walking their dogs in Central Park. Yes, we too are just that civilized.

If New York has any more congenial, smart and hard-working couples like Susan and Michael Kaye, please send them down South. The Kayes moved to Atlanta to be close to their married daughter and grandchild whom they check on daily at daycare a few blocks away.

Michael, a retired accountant, is the “go to” guy for questions about property tax, who does what for whom and what gets appropriated for repairs. In addition to serving as Treasurer of the HOA, he heads a 7:30 a.m. jogging group – 5 miles a day. That’s not bad for folks in their 60s.

Susan, meanwhile, has her hands in “running” things also: the book club, organizing trivia, and teaching mahjong. We take trivia seriously here and strategically form balanced teams to have young people who may know about rap artists, current junk TV shows, and cult movies.

Science, geography, the arts, and history, we “alta cockers” have covered; also some sports, if it’s about Sandy Koufax or Mark Spitz.

One of our most delightful young residents is aspiring dental student Jenny Leighton, 22. Jenny likes interacting with folks of all ages and the feeling of security here since she walks both her poodles at 5:30 in the morning. She says “there are scads of young people in the condos.”

I call it “tattoos at the pool.”

The couple who gets the most out of One River Place living is Diana and Rich Furman, recent transplants from Miami by way of Boston and Wichita. Their daughter Michele lives in the adjoining building so they can co-parent Gigi the labra-doodle and be on call for attending son Jeremy’s new baby.

When I first met Michele, she said, “Wait until you meet my mother. She is a mega work-out animal”.

Diana, with flaxen-blond hair and huge blue eyes, like you’d expect a gal from Kansas to look, power walks, jogs, hikes with me in between and works out in the gym. Then we meet back for laps in the pool.

Later with Rich, a chemical engineer, she goes kayaking from their backyard and cycling.


“living here is Heaven time two; and we should have moved sooner; but was I reluctant to give up my lifestyle in Miami,” Diana says.

Marcia and Murray Goldman downsized from their home in Dunwoody.

Hard to call it downsizing when their all-on-one-floor unit is 3,170 square feet that has a media room and features custom aqua granite and a fabulous ocher and turquoise interior.

The Goldmans, world travelers, hike miles at Cochran Shoals, and show up at wine tasting events with their own bottle to satisfy their oenophilic tastes. I always stand near Murray because he shares.

They were motivated to shed the upkeep of a house when they chose The flat Sanctuary; and are enjoying their first granddaughter. Interestingly, their son just opened a casual tropical family restaurant called “Hurricane Grill and Wings” in Johns Creek.

The bottom line is we really enjoy mingling with everyone here, but end up aligning along lifestyle and activities, then culturally gravitate towards people we have things in common with.

That said, our group still ended up with 10 Cohens, including Debbie who is the accounts receivable manager at JFS; Renae and Eddie Goldberg and Lori Simon. We even occasionally get a glimpse of Bruce Turry, chairman of the board of Akerman Security Systems, going for his 4-mile hike.

As my Bubbie, MamaRebecca, used to say, “Life is not without some rain.”

I was conversing with an unknowing neighbor who saw a moving truck and unhappily said: “I hear it’s another Jewish family coming in.” Also, someone dropped out of a weekly class because she said “there were too many Jews.”

Well, now I’m off to a tailgate party – I’ve never been to one and don’t even know what teams are playing. But, well, there a really long buffet with vegan options, so I’m game!

About the writer

After 35 years with the Atlanta Newspapers, Marcia currently serves as  Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association where she delivers news and trends(laced with a little gossip). On the side, Marcia is Captain of the Senior Cheerleaders for the WNBA at Philips Arena.


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