Civic Center sale to AHA places Southface campus on endangered list

For 40 years, Southface has been leading the way in making Atlanta a more sustainable city.

The environmentally-focused nonprofit has been a pioneer in green building practices – and it deserves much of the credit for Atlanta’s national reputation as a city committed to energy and water conservation.

But now Southface is facing its own challenges – likely having to move from its headquarters, now on a .74-acre site along Pine Street near Piedmont, where it has been since 1995.

Egbert Perry

Integral’s Egbert Perry finds stance of AHA and Mayor Reed ‘baffling’

Affordable housing developer Egbert Perry, and his Atlanta-based company  – Integral, are fighting back against claims by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) that he had received a sweetheart deal to buy land next to his company’s existing developments.

In an effort to set the record straight, Integral and its development partners filed a legal response late Saturday to an AHA lawsuit. The response seeks to correct several statements AHA and Reed have made, which Perry said are  misrepresentations of his company’s actions and history.

AHA and Egbert Perry – Know the history before attacking Integral’s options on land

By Guest Columnist HATTIE DORSEY, civic volunteer, founder and retired president of the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership

After reading recent news articles about Egbert Perry and the Integral Co., I find I just cannot sit idly by and not respond in some fashion. I reluctantly take issue with many of my housing advocate friends who express concern based on media reports that do not dive into the history of what public housing use to be like in Atlanta. Because I happen to know what Integral’s vision was – Redevelop the terrible public housing projects into new and mixed income communities – I want to add my voice because I was involved.

Gaines Hall Fountain Hall

Atlantans fight to restore Gaines Hall after fire

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Gaines Hall, built in 1869 as a dorm for Atlanta University, caught fire on Aug. 20. The next day, the Atlanta Fire Department said the historic building should be torn down for safety reasons. But local preservationists immediately objected, saying Gaines Hall can and should be saved.

Atlanta has a pretty dismal record when it comes to preservation.

Gaines Hall 2013

A boarded up Gaines Hall awaits its fate in 2013 (Photos by Maria Saporta)

All too often, vacant older buildings suffer from a condition known as demolition by neglect ─ they fall victim to the elements or catch on fire ─ giving property owners an excuse to tear them down.

And it’s rare for local governments in metro Atlanta to stand in the way of demolition.  It’s even rarer for them to find a permanent solution to preserve historic buildings.

So it appeared as though Gaines Hall was doomed.

The dorm had been owned by the struggling Morris Brown College, until earlier this year, when it was acquired by the city of Atlanta.

Would the fire seal its fate?

That’s when Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed came to the rescue.

When I asked the mayor about Gaines Hall Monday, he told me emphatically, “We are going to find a way to preserve it.”


After all, Gaines Hall had been the stomping ground for leading African-American scholars like W.E.B. DuBois, among others.

The next day, the city sent engineers as well as the head of planning, the head of Invest Atlanta and the head of real estate to examine the building.

The official line is that they’re trying to assess the damage to see if it can be saved.

But Mayor Reed, someone who rules with an iron fist, has let his feelings be known. And city officials will be more motivated to preserve Gaines Hall rather than demolish it.

While I’m not always a fan of the mayor’s heavy-handed style, I have seen it work once before in saving a building.

The city had given Atlanta Housing Authority permission to demolish the Trio building in the King historic district.

Preservationists cried foul.

Mayor Reed agreed. And he controls most of AHA’s board members, so the historic building is being saved.

It’s time to do it again!

Just like the Trio building, preservationists are standing by, ready to help.

Mark McDonald, CEO of the Georgia Trust, said the Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta, designed by the same architect, had even worse fire damage than Gaines Hall. But Hancock County officials are preserving it.

If Sparta can do it, so can Atlanta.

For Gaines Hall to be a real success, we need to not only save the building. We need to give it new life so that it won’t fall victim again.

Mayor Reed, you can be an even greater hero if you come up with a permanent solution for Gaines Hall, one that will keep it standing for generations to come.

MLK Historic District to be bolstered as AHA plans tear-down of building

The proposal to demolish a building owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority in the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District is advancing even as the city expects to enact in May a set of new zoning regulations to create an entire landmark district in the area.

The AHA-owned building is located along Auburn Avenue in the heart of the proposed commercial and institutional section of the landmark district. Fulton County property tax records list the owner as Westside Revitalization Acquisitions, LLC. AHA’s report to HUD lists the building as one of its potential tear-downs.

This particular structure, built in 1981, may not be worth saving – an economic review panel will help determine the building’s fate. But the proposed demolition does raise the question of protecting and promoting the King historic district as it is poised for revitalization spurred by the Atlanta Streetcar.

AHA after Renee Glover: No new initiatives for residents; but provide land for Falcons parking lot

The Atlanta Housing Authority proposes no new initiatives in the first forward-looking report it has prepared for HUD since former CEO Renee Glover left last year following a public two-year dispute with Mayor Kasim Reed.

The report does say AHA intends to provide the Falcons with land near the new stadium for a surface parking lot. This site is part of the now-demolished housing project, Herndon Homes.

HUD secretary says taxes from rising property values caused by urban renewal can fund affordable housing

Twenty years ago, the media gathered in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood likely would have there to report a homicide.

On Tuesday, the media was there to cover Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan proclaiming the renewal of the once-blighted community as a national success story about public private partnerships.

The transformation of the old East Lake Meadows housing project is so profound that nearby homes are now priced at up to $775,000. Donovan said rising property values are a good thing in a city, and that the increased property taxes enable local governments – such as Atlanta’s – to provide programs that keep such neighborhoods affordable to households with a mix of incomes:

Atlanta Housing Authority meeting canceled; Renee Glover to stay on

By Maria Saporta

Never mind.

The board of the Atlanta Housing Authority, which was to have met Wednesday to vote on a separation agreement with CEO Renee Glover, has cancelled that meeting due to the lack of a quorum.

An earlier story on SaportaReport said that the board was going to be acting on that separation agreement at the meeting.