The New Vinings 8

Meet six diverse residents representing the changing face of Vinings.

Vinings, Georgia, is more than the few square miles off Paces Ferry. It’s bigger than the locally-dubbed “true Vinings” though that area could certainly be seen as the heart of the region. Unofficially, Vinings now extends much farther, including parts of Smyrna, Mableton and Atlanta. A Vinings zip code was even recently established that extends from the new Braves stadium on Cobb Parkway all the way to South Cobb Drive.

While the geography of the area is changing, the demographics are changing as well.  Vinings was once a sleepy suburb, but is now a dynamic, growing community.

Vinings includes families flocking to the resurgence of public schools, young professionals raving over the foodie scene, business owners nabbing engaged customers, and empty nesters who find no need to leave.

To celebrate the new face of Vinings, we found six area residents who represent it well. Read on to learn why they have chosen to live in Vinings.

David and Barbie Cooper, Church Pastors/Christ Crusaders

Dr. David Cooper has been the senior pastor of the 11,000-member Mount Paran Church of God (MountParan.org) for the last 18 years (and on staff there for 24 years). His wife of 30 years, Barbie, is the Woman’s Life pastor. Together they minister to one of the largest churches in Atlanta and reach people across the world through a strong online ministry.

David and Barbie have loved living in Smyrna through the years, raising two children here. Though both children have grown and the Coopers are now grandparents, they relish staying in the area. When asked what keeps him here, Dr. Cooper answered with his characteristic faith-based boldness.

“I am concerned for the spiritual welfare of our people. I want to help has many people as I can to have a true relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to live a life of purpose that God has for them.” -Dr. Cooper

Pastor Cooper can often be spotted inconspicuously working on a sermon at Starbucks or enjoying the great outdoors with his long-haired dachshund, Mikey. The Coopers have found Vinings a good place to serve God’s purpose.

Fred Blankenship, Television Anchor/Family Man

You might have spied Fred Blankenship and his family at Taylor-Brawner park or strolling through Vinings Jubilee, But you probably know him best for bringing you the news you need to know since 2007 on WSB-TV’s Channel 2 Action News, what he refers to as the best job in the country.

Fred and his stunning wife Paige have been married 10 years and have 3 children: Freddy (8), Layla (5) and Jaden (2). They have lived in the area for the last eight years. Fred is a Los Angeles native but feels at home in Vinings. He loves the abundance of young families, its convenience to everything in Atlanta, and he swears it is the new hot spot to live.

“Vinings is a place where communities are growing at a record pace. The school system is working hard to keep up with the standard in East Cobb. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. My area is the new hot spot. Just remember, you heard it here first.” -Fred Blankenship

Devin Taylor-Clark, Interior Designer/Resident Cool Girl

Devin is the epitome of cool. People are drawn to her effervescent personality and her easy, West Coast transitional style. In the design industry for the last 13 years, Devin has made a name for herself in Atlanta since moving here seven years ago and starting Devin Taylor Designs (DevintTaylorDesigns.com).

She has designed projects for NBA players Blake Griffin, Kemba Walker and Cole Aldrich, and is currently working on a complete custom-build for Jeff Adrien.

In addition to juggling design projects in multiple states, Devin also juggles family responsibilities to her 6-year-old son, 2-year-old daughter and well-traveled husband Lorne Clark. She has created a community of friends-who-feel-like-family and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Whether it’s an impromptu cocktail party on the verandah of her newly-restored Smyrna home, Sunday brunch around her massive marble kitchen island, or date night at the walkable Muss & Turner’s, Devin shows Vinings can be for hipsters, too.

“The Smyrna area is a great metropolitan suburb with so much to offer. We’ve met people from all over the world here. This community is a place where neighbors wave as you walk by…and then invite you over for cocktails. ( And that’s a true story as it happened last Friday night!)” -Devin Clark

Dr. Jaha Howard, Pediatric Dentist/Education Visionary

Dr. Jaha Howard has become a celebrity around town. Some people know him from his fast-growing dental practice, A+ Pediatric Dentistry, but others recognize him as the face of Wave of Excellence, the Facebook group he started to support Smyrna-area public schools.

With nearly 1,800 members of Wave of Excellence, Dr. Howard has helped to reenergize a population that once thought pricey private schools were their only “good” option.

“I want people to know our schools have transitioned from our “Achilles’ heel” into one of our stronger assets,” says Dr. Howard. “I’ve been so impressed with our teachers and principals.  Our kids are in very good hands. “

Dr. Howard believes in creating a sense of community within his office that extends beyond his Smyrna doors, living his office’s motto, “Excellence and Compassion” everyday.

Dr. Howard is married to his chic, formidable wife, Vanessa, and they have three children ages 5 to 1. The Howard family plans to take advantage of all the opportunities in Vinings for decades to come.

Gillian Greer, Executive Director of Vinings Historical Preservation Society/Unofficial Mayor

If you need to know anything about the history or people of Vinings, it’s a good bet Gillian Greer will have your answer. Gillian has lived in Vinings for 10 years but spent countless hours here since she was a child helping her mother sell antiques in the Old Pavilion.

After an exciting career as a flight attendant for Delta, Gillian launched her second act in Vinings and fell in love with the Mayberry-like quality of Vinings Village. She enjoys having a small-town life in the middle of the big city. As part of both the “old” and “new” Vinings, Gillian is excited about the growing energy and the permeating sense of community.

“We are a community full of volunteers who work together to make our village great…We are loyal to the businesses, shops and restaurants in the area.  It’s a very unique community with a lot of community comradery.  It’s just a great place to live!” -Gillian Greer

Euan McGlesshan Partner, Valor Hospitality Group/Hotel Whisperer

If you can draw yourself away from his dreamy George Clooney-esque eyes or his subtle Scottish lilt, you’d see Euan McGlesshan as the hotelier who’s bringing sex appeal to Vinings. Known for his amazing turnaround of the once-troubled Barnsley Gardens Resort, the 48-year-old Euan has set his sights on Vinings.

“I dearly love Vinings given its village feel and history. It has such great energy. We tried to capture that in our Hotel Indigo project.” -Euan McGlesshan

As the co-founder and managing partner of Valor Hospitality Partners, a hotel management, acquisition and development company, Euan has an enviable listing of 28 hotels around the world, including seven in the US. This global empire, which Euan began in 2012, is run out of offices in the heart of Vinings.

Euan’s pet project, the completely renovated Hotel Indigo, opened recently off of Paces Ferry. He was very hands-on for this renovation, hoping to create a chic social space for guests and locals alike. His goal is a sophisticated, sexy vibe. My guess? He’ll be spot on.