Integral Group and Alexis Scott make case to demolish Atlanta Daily World building

By Maria Saporta

While the Atlanta preservation community is objecting to plans to demolish the historic home of the Atlanta Daily World, the parties behind the application released a lengthy statement Monday evening to present their point of view.

It is a joint statement from Alexis Scott, publisher of Atlanta Daily World and the building’s owner; and Valerie Edwards, an executive with the Integral Group, which wants to redevelop the property.

Here is their statement in full:

Background:

1. On February 29, 2012, media inquiries were received by Atlanta Daily World and The Integral Group (“Integral”). The issue the media was calling about was the former home of Atlanta Daily World newspaper, 145 Auburn Avenue (“the building”).

2. In 2008, the building, and many other structures in the downtown area, sustained damage caused by a tornado. The building has been uninhabitable and beyond repair since the storm.

3. After more than 50 years in the same location, Atlanta Daily World moved to its current location and continues to operate.

4. Integral submitted a demolition application to the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (“UDC”) on January 31, 2012.

5. Integral is contemplating developing ninety-one (91) apartment homes on this and an adjacent site to serve the growing downtown rental market, including students.

Relevant Facts About The Decision To Sell The Building:

1. The owners – members of the Scott Family – made a decision to sell 145 Auburn Avenue after concluding that they were unable to restore and renovate the building.

2. It is the desire of the owners to allow the building to be renovated while preserving the legacy and historical significance of the building.

3. The owners approached the Integral about purchasing the building.

4. Integral made an offer contingent upon their ability to get approval from UDC to demolish portions of the building while trying to preserve the façade as part of their redevelopment plans as they did with Renaissance Walk.

5. Integral’s plans provide a “win-win” and permit the building will be restored as a vibrant and contributing asset to the Auburn Avenue economy and community and the historical significance of the Atlanta Daily World will be preserved. The owners of the building fully support this transaction with Integral as a way to prevent the building from being condemned or from collapsing, thereby forever losing its significant footprint on Auburn Avenue.

Relevant Facts About A Commitment to Preservation:

1. More than any other for-profit company working in the Martin Luther King Historic District, Integral has restored or saved five (5) historic buildings, including its corporate headquarters. Integral has saved historic buildings that would certainly have gone the way of Jenkins Steak House, the Herndon Building and others on Auburn Avenue and in historic districts across the city.

2. Integral wants to preserve the façade of the building while demolishing portions of the building that are beyond saving.

3. A “partial demolition” is treated by the UDC the same as “full demolition.” The UDC has no provision for a partial demolition in its application process; hence any confusion about the intentions of Integral’s development plans.

4. After 25-30 years of a lack of investment, it is clear that crumbling buildings are severely limiting full recovery of the immediate business district. Letting buildings sit unpreserved and undeveloped, in the name of unattainable or unaffordable preservation, is an undesirable outcome for everyone. Ultimately, Mother Nature plays the role of demolition contractor and the community suffers for decades with an eyesore that prevents the community from benefiting from an area recovery and may jeopardize the health and safety of the community.

5. Without significant public or private grants to finance historic restoration and preservation, building owners must finance restoration from their own resources. Nonetheless, Integral is committed to honoring the legacy of the buildings and maintaining the “historic feel of the community,” as much as feasible.

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