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ATL Business Chronicle Maria's Metro

Column: Downtown’s historic Olympia building for sale — again

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, August 2, 2013

Maybe the third time will be the charm.

The Georgia State Properties Commission is putting the historic Olympia building at Five Points up for bid — again.

The bids for the triangular two-story building in the heart of downtown must be submitted by 2 p.m. on Aug. 20, and the process is a request for qualifications — giving the state some leeway in deciding who might end up being the new owner of the building.

This is the third time that the state has put the building up for bid.

The first time, in early 2012, no bidders submitted offers to buy the building so the state went back to the drawing board.

Then in October of last year, just before the bids were scheduled to open, the state halted the process because it had not completed negotiations with The Coca-Cola Co. about extending its lease for the large neon Coca-Cola sign that sits on the building’s roof.

At the time, Paul Melvin, a spokesman for the State Property Office, said it was important for prospective owners to have complete information on what would be included in the bid package and that the information on the Coca-Cola lease would be important to include in bid documents.

According to the bid documents, Coca-Cola’s original 10-year lease to place the sign on the roof expired on July 31, 2012. The lease has since been extended until July 31, 2017, with options to extend the lease for two five-year periods. The base rent is $8,641 a month.

The building also has a second lease with the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District for $1,961 per month.

The Olympia building was constructed between 1935 and 1936 at 23 Peachtree St. at Five Points. In 1995, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation donated the building to the state just before the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, a gift that then was valued at $3.6 million.

Previously, Melvin has said the building needs a significant amount of renovation, which was one reason the state had decided to sell it.

National Philanthropy Day

The award recipients at the 2013 National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 5 have been contributing to the Atlanta community for decades.

Lou Brown Jewell will receive the Philanthropist of the Year award for her compassion for people in need. She began providing major support to the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Support program at Visiting Nurse.

She then made significant gifts to Emory University’s School of Medicine, supporting investments in clinical research to improve the understanding of Parkinson’s and to create more effective treatment of the disease. In all, she has supported more than 100 nonprofit organizations in Atlanta with her time, energy and financial support. Her two daughters, Betsy and Nancy, have become partners in her philanthropy.

Cecil and Amy Conlee will be recognized as the Volunteer Fundraisers of the Year.

Cecil Conlee is director of two private foundations, past board chairman of Year Up Atlanta, and a past director of the George West Mental Health Foundation, the Atlanta Boy Scouts, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Central Atlanta Progress, the Corporation for Olympic Development Atlanta, the Southern Center for International Studies and Trinity School. He also served as president of the Community Foundation of Atlanta.

Amy Jorgensen Conlee is a volunteer teacher of non-academic courses at Atlanta Girls’ School, teaching in a program entitled Education for the Development of Leadership and Service.

Nearly 1,000 Atlantans are expected to attend the Philanthropy Day luncheon at the Georgia Aquarium.

Marcus Foundation

Thanks to a $75,000 gift from the Marcus Foundation, the GivingPoint Institute is being launched in August.

GivingPoint is an Atlanta-based youth development organization focused on motivating students to create positive change in their community. The Marcus grant will fully fund the GivingPoint Institute in its inaugural year with a goal of supporting 15 students implement their own individual community projects.

“The GivingPoint Institute is going to provide powerful resources to some of Atlanta’s brightest young social entrepreneurs, and having the Marcus Foundation’s support will make all the difference,” said Derek Smith, chairman and founder of GivingPoint, in a statement.

The 15 Atlanta-based students, ages 14 to 22, were selected from GivingPoint’s database of nearly 7,000 participants. Students accepted to the GivingPoint Institute have all volunteered at least 100 hours and created their own social projects.

“We are excited to support the launch of the GivingPoint Institute because this is a program that equips and supports young people in their entrepreneurial efforts,” said Bernie Marcus, founder of the Marcus Foundation. “They represent the future of our great city, and we are eager to see what they will accomplish through the GivingPoint Institute.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. Benjamin Friedman August 14, 2013 4:59 pm

    I’d be willing to bet almost anything that GSU ultimately winds up with possession of the Olympia building as part of their continuing plan to take over downtown. Maybe they could place part of their art and design school there or convert it into an additional art gallery.Report


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