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Star Bar says it’s safe for now as developer pulls out of demolition plan

The Star Community Bar on the day of a Sept. 18 meeting about its possible demolition for a redevelopment. (Photo by John Ruch.)

By John Ruch

The Star Community Bar appears to be safe from demolition at least through 2023 after a developer pulled out of a controversial plan, according to the bar owners.

Owners of the iconic Little Five Points bar and music venue say landlord Point Center Partners told them this week that developer Third & Urban has withdrawn. The landlord and the developer did not immediately respond to comment requests.

A rabble-rousing sign taped to the Star Bar building before a Sept. 18 community meeting about organizing against the redevelopment plan. (Photo by John Ruch.)

According to Star Bar owners, the withdrawal ends a plan that would have demolished the bar for a new commercial building and turned an adjacent school property into multifamily housing. The developers offered the bar space in the new building, but the owners were dubious of surviving such a project.

“Third & Urban did indeed pull out of the proposed development,” said bar co-owner Luke Lewis. “Point Center Partners did not divulge the details.”

The bar had been negotiating with the development team on a lease extension through at least September 2023. “Now that the developer is out, Point Center has come back to us to negotiate a lease for the full year of 2023, with a possibility for more,” said Lewis, adding he hopes to have that agreement signed by the end of next week. The bar is also starting the work of renewing its liquor license, he said.

The long-term future of the bar remains a question. “The landlord has not said either way on that, but I would assume they plan to shop the property around to other developers,” said Lewis. Another co-owner says Third & Urban’s withdrawal “doesn’t change anything for the bar” in the long term due to the likelihood of other developers coming in.

Lewis said that, in a Nov. 22 meeting about the developer’s withdrawal, he asked the landlord to name a price for the owners to buy the bar themselves. “I have not been given that price, but this conversation was at [4 p.m.] yesterday,” he said. “I would believe that if we have a price, that would be the time to look at a GoFundMe or other means of raising the funds needed,” he said.

The Candler Park Neighborhood Organization (CPNO), which vetted a preliminary version of the redevelopment plan, has not heard from the developers about the withdrawal, according to president Emily Taff.

Revelation of the redevelopment plan in September drew outrage over the potential loss of the bar at 437 Moreland Ave. and the impact on L5P, a countercultural capital of the Southeast, as well as broader issues of gentrification and cultural displacement in Atlanta. An online petition to save the bar drew thousands of signers and the Little 5 Points Business Association voiced opposition. CPNO also had concerns about local impacts from the housing proposal and its effect on the school building, which is a historic former church.

Word of the developers’ withdrawal was posted on social media on Nov. 22 by Rotknee Presents, a weekly standup comedy showcase at the bar. Many patrons went to the bar that night to celebrate. Several expressed relief that the withdrawal meant not just saving the bar, but also its subcultural community and network of friends, the potential loss of which even had some considering moving out of state.


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