In early October, the building's new owners, Broward Development, brokered a deal with the Atlanta Urban Design Commission to have the nomination for landmark designation withdrawn. In return, Broward has withdrawn their SAP which included a request for a permit to demolish the building and build a self-storage facility in its place. Both parties have until April 2017 to determine an agreeable path forward.
Docomomo US/Georgia met with Broward and their legal team to discuss options for the building's preservation. We are encouraged by their willingness to consider options for the continued use of this iconic building and commend them for recognizing the building's importance to the City of Atlanta once they had become aware of its significance.
The challenge moving forward will be for the owners to find an option that both preserves the building and offers a satisfactory return on their investment. All too often, historic buildings are pitted against the "highest and best use" of the land upon which they sit, and very rarely is that a fair match up. The Georgia chapter is working with the owners to advise them on preservation-based economic incentives that may help to even out the playing field, but at the end of the day, it will require a significant amount of good will to see this building preserved for all to enjoy.
The circumstances surrounding this most recent advocacy effort highlight two issues that plague preservation efforts in Atlanta: the City's historic property survey and designation lists are critically outdated and the tools available to make historic properties economically competitive are ad hoc and without proper guidelines. Please join Docomomo US/Georgia in the months ahead as we advocate for an update to the city's historic property survey, for proactive designations, and for clear guidance and protocols for the transfer of development rights.