[Above photo contributed; historic photo (building in question at center) via GSU Special Collections.]
The pending demolition of a century-old building near Edgewood Avenue has alarmed preservationists and the community alike. Kyle Kessler of Atlanta Preservation Professionals tells the Saporta Report the City of Atlanta issued a demolition permit for a historic building — a two-story structure at 20 Hilliard St., between Edgewood and Tanner Street and behind Noni's Bar & Deli — without going through proper channels. Located in the Martin Luther King Landmark District, the building is owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority, and plans for its demo were reportedly never brought before the Atlanta Urban Design Commission. Kessler is fighting for the city to issue a stop-work order. "So far they've only removed a portion of the roof and some of the interior," he wrote, "so it's not too late to salvage this building." Sinan Sinharoy, a local planner and engineer, emailed Curbed Atlanta to confirm the building's planned fate. "I talked to one of the workers today and asked if they were renovating it, but he said that it was getting demoed. I have heard that the roof collapsed a few years ago, so it is not in the best condition for rehabilitation."
According to Fulton County Tax Assessor records, the building dates to at least 1915 and was last sold in 2009 for $750,000. A Google Street View Timeline indicates it's been vacant since at least 2007.
Various online sources suggest the building was called Trio Laundry and later Tanner Laundry and survived the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917. Atlantahistory.com says the building has been unoccupied since the 1930s.
"Hopefully this land will at least go to good use and be redeveloped as residential or mixed use, since it's basically on top of a streetcar station (Edgewood at Hilliard), and about a five-minute walk to the King Memorial MARTA station," Sinharoy writes. "Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't turn into yet another surface parking lot."
In the blog post, veteran Atlanta journalist Maria Saporta rails against the decision to bring down a piece of local history. "It is ironic that as the city is about to launch the Atlanta Streetcar to help revitalize the historic King district — to highlight the corridor's significance in the history of Atlanta and the South — that the very same government would allow further deterioration and erosion of that historic district by issuing a demolition permit for one of the contributing buildings," Saporta writes. "It's even sadder that another public entity — the Atlanta Housing Authority — would not see the value in preserving the city's history."
Kessler sends this historical information (below). And he clarifies "Atlanta Preservation Professionals" is simply a Facebook group:
"The building was constructed in 1910 (newspaper article from 1910 and Sanborn map from 1911) and it did survive the 1917 fire (newspaper ad from 1917). The City inspected the property in November 2013 (who requested it?) and determined that there were "immediate hazardous conditions" yet AHA didn't apply for a demolition permit until June and the building's still standing here in August. Until Monday customers at Noni's could park next to the building and even today you can walk right up to it on Hilliard Street. I'm not sure when the laundry vacated the property, but it was occupied in the 1990s as the William Holmes Borders, Sr. Comprehensive After Care Treatment Center. The sign is still visible on the north side of the building in the 2007 Google street view image."
· Preservationists say Atlanta City Hall issued demolition permit by mistake [Saporta Report]