Tag Archives: midtown

Midtown Boom

Curbed’s visual of current development statuses in Midtown Atlanta Forty Projects Leave Few Block Untouched in Midtown

Not at all surprisingly, Curbed beat me to it. I wanted to write a post after I’d had a chance to compile a complete catalog of Midtown Atlanta’s low-rise 20th century commercial structures. I should know I do not have time for that. However, I can at least keep up a casual documentation of midtown’s historic and mid-century buildings via flickr tagging.

Midtown Atlanta is changing fast. While there is plenty of development to be happy for—infill construction where surface parking has snaggled-toothed blocks for ages—the loss of ever more of Midtown’s few historic resources are saddening.

The former low-rise corner of 14th St. and West Peachtree is slated to become 1163 West Peachtree

The former low-rise corner of 14th St. and West Peachtree is slated to become 1163 West Peachtree

The rate of destruction became truly alarming to me after the disappearance of the cute little commercial block (formerly home to an Einstein’s, a Zip Car office and Carolyn’s Gourmet) on the SE corner of 14th and West Peachtree the Checkers at 10th and Spring.

Midtown has always shown an array of eras, grand houses on Peachtree, slightly less grand on the flanking streets, followed by early 20th century commercial cropping up at crossroads such as 10th. In the mid-20th century midtown shifted away from residential and tear-downs gave way to single story mid-century office and retail buildings, in the 60s and 70s we get a few larger, often 2-story commercial structures and later came the towers, and more towers. I love seeing a house among the office towers, remnants of past eras strewn here and there in the heart of a bustling office district. But with all this new development, while a few Landmarked buildings will remains (Rhodes Hall, the Wimbish House…) we are in danger of loosing almost every one of those [more ordinary] links to each of Midtown’s pasts.

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resuscitating the Rhodes Theatre for the weekend

Normally I write about somewhere I’ve been to recently maybe for some event but this post is about an event upcoming and about a place that features in daily life here at Rhodes Hall.

goATL and Living Walls at the Rhodes Theatre

RhodesCenter1

Preservationists may be unaware of the cool inter-city urban performance art hijinks that are taking place next door to us this weekend at the Old Rhodes Theatre on the south side of Rhodes Hall, in the only remaining building of the Rhodes Center. We don’t often associate ourselves with the happening art scene (or they with us, hello) even though both the arts and us historic preservationists (and bikers, alt transit proponents, urban explorers, planners, foodies and farmers, etc) share a common goal of revitalizing our streets, our neighborhoods, and buildings. Preservationists support the Beltline yes, and Ponce City Market (good job guys) but when it comes to festivals like Streets Alive or art events like Living Walls, communication fails to connect these 2 entities. There may even be strife between them if, for instance, a historic building is painted by a revered graffiti artist. Peachtree’s Streets Alive this summer stopped just short of Rhodes Hall, and this weekend a Living Walls event is happening RIGHT NEXT DOOR with the expressed purpose (according to this CL article) of not just having public performance art but of “resuscitating a beloved Atlanta landmark” the Rhodes Theatre, a remnant of the 1930s shopping center that once surrounded Rhodes Hall.

“Perhaps most intriguing of all, gloATL and Living Wills will finish their fall Traveling Show right on Atlanta’s doorstep. When they’re not on the road, the busy groups are in the process of resuscitating a beloved Atlanta landmark, the Rhodes Theatre just off Peachtree Street near Rhodes Hall. The historic theatre, closed and empty since 1985, will be reopened for a weekend of performances, November 8-10.”

Many questions arise namely, huh? no one said anything to us about “resuscitating” our neighbor, is this for real or just a flippant use of language for an article, hopeful? has anyone actually made steps? talked to the owner? My assumption is that there are no true plans for revitalization of this building but it is exciting that the owner is letting it be used for community events like this in the interim.

Honestly, last we heard there was going to be a giant tower to forever overshadow us and block our incredible view of midtown. Just waiting on the economy.

photo-31The Rhodes Center was sold in 1985 to developer Scott Hudgins, the Theatre closed in December of 1985. The matching Rhodes Center building on the north side of Rhodes Hall was later developed for office space (Equifax building) and while the south side building with the theatre was gutted, it has not been demolished, yet. Anyway, I just went across the street to take a few pictures and the theatre was open! With images of 1980s mod carpet and panelling on the lobby walls, I peered into the darkness, of course it was empty. The gutted building has a dirt floor surrounded by a concrete pad. J and J were sweeping and painting what floor remains, the plan they say is to install grass in the center for a sort of indoor outdoor stage for gloATL performers.

The above image from the GSU archives looks down the street between Rhodes Hall and the Theatre when it was still operating (and Rhodes Hall served as home of the State Archives). The best history of the Rhodes Theatre (and mental image of Atlanta in the 1940s) I’ve ever seen was written by Tommy Jones here.

Lastly, word is there are NO plans for Living Walls to paint anything (except for the floor). So ardent preservationists can be relieved.

photo-33


demolition time again

Times they are a’changin’. Well, really nothing about TIME is a’changin’, Atlanta’s doing what she’s always done, we’ve had a bit of reprieve thanks to the down economy and perhaps that’s why the swath of demolitions is suddenly so noticeable, but the streetscapes in midtown are certainly changing, again. A few months ago I took a nice stroll around midtown Atlanta, from Rhodes Hall down Spring, and down the ‘teenth streets all the way to Crescent. I discovered a couple historic residences i didn’t know exited, including the Castle on 15th, and I later learned it’s renown in annals of Atlanta preservation. I found Front Page News midtown houses in a chopped up old house and neighboring restaurants the same, a half intact residential block nestled among skyscrapers—rockin! I found a creepy old residence, converted to restaurant, hair salon, and a jumble of other possible retail activity before being abandoned behind it’s old magnolia and encroaching tropical plants. This house is coming down today. They’ve already torn out the mid-section and I imagine i can hear the beeping of bulldozers in reverse even from here at Rhodes Hall. Sad, but who was going to fight for this mangled old midtown building, once home to Atlanta lives long-forgotten? And that magnolia, it would’ve had to go, although I think there is some Southern biblical thing about not cutting down the magnolia grandiflora.

demo

Sadder maybe is what demolition means for the evolution of an area. Lunch the other day found us on Crescent Ave NE, which used to look like the screenshot below. Front Page News is still holding it’s own but that adorable green house was already half gone, making room for something new that will maximize land-use profitability on the corner. However, with land being cleared for another new construction one block back, you have to wonder what this spells out for the rest of that enclave of low-story and mostly residential structures tucked so poetically among the highrises. Diversity is disappearing, you can bet whatever goes up next will not be bright green and cloaked come spring in purple wisteria. Diversity is beautiful.