City panel pauses Pullman Yard landmark designation process

By Maggie Lee

Amid general support for landmarking Kirkwood’s Pullman Yard, a city panel hearing the idea delayed the vote while some historic research is ongoing.

Atlanta Urban Design Commission Chairman Garfield Peart said at the end of a Wednesday afternoon hearing that he wanted to go on the record showing general support of the proposed landmark designation for Pullman Yard.

“I’m excited about this ultimately going forward,” he said.

Pullman Yard, buildings

Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission has delayed a vote to protect old buildings at Pullman Yard. There’s support for the designation but they took a pause while awaiting details on at least one building. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

And so is the property owner and so is the city, which officially pitched the roughly 26-acre Pratt-Pullman Landmark District.

But the executive director of the Urban Design Commission, Doug Young, told the panel he wanted to acknowledge there is additional research on the site coming forward and the number of buildings eligible for protection could be reduced from the city staff’s current recommendation.

The city has proposed  what’s called “contributing” status for all brick and masonry buildings on the site plus a structure in the yard called the “lateral transfer table” which was built to more quickly, efficiently move rail cars.

Only “contributing” structures — those that contribute to the visual integrity or historical interpretation of a site — are eligible for protection.

But Jessica Hill, an attorney representing property owners Atomic Entertainment told the commission that her client thinks there is at least one building flagged by the city as “contributing” that may not have historical significance. She said Atomic is working with a historian on documentation.

But both she and the site’s new owner himself emphasized that Atomic favors the designation.

“We do plan on leveraging the existing buildings,” said Adam Rosenfelt, whose Atomic Entertainment  bought the site for $8 million this year. “Most of the reason we were so excited … was the integrity and character of the buildings,” he told the commission.

Atomic is planning to use the old buildings as part of a mixed-use development with some kind of entertainment or arts component.

The committee delayed a vote, which gives more time for research. The next UDC meeting is scheduled for July 26.

The buildings on the site go back as far as the 1904 construction of two large buildings by the Pratt Engineering Company, according to the city’s research.

Kirkwood resident Susanne Blam spoke in support of the designation too.

“The community has waited a long time for this group of buildings, this site to receive the designation that it deserves,” she said.

“We look forward to working with the developers moving forward to address our concerns about the buildings, the site, the neighborhood, its historic character,” said Blam.

Indeed, a vote by the UDC to nominate the site is only the first step in making Pullman Yard a landmark district. Among other steps, the proposal would also go through the Zoning Review Board and be sent to the Neighborhood Planning Unit for comment and recommendation.  It would eventually require approval by the full Atlanta City Council.

Council has already voiced its intent that green space on the site be preserved, by voting protections for about eight acres of the site.

The city started the process to landmark Pullman Yard last year. But at the time, the site was owned by the state, which wanted to sell.  Georgia sent Atlanta a letter telling it to back off the preservation effort or face a legal challenge.

 

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