ATLANTA — The fate of 152 Nassau Street remains cloudy after a court hearing last Thursday was delayed. But one development from last week is giving a preservationist a glimmer of hope the downtown Atlanta property might be saved.
In the middle of this is the quaint, century-old building that sits in the shadow of Centennial Olympic Park and the big SkyView ferris wheel.
It's in the hands of a Fulton County Superior Court judge to determine the building's future. Until that happens, a demolition company's equipment will remain idle, as it has since early August when work was first halted by a court order.
It was inside the Nassau St. address in 1923, Atlanta-area resident Fiddlin' John Carson recorded what are believed to be the first hits in the music genre today known as country music. Okeh Records used the building as a temporary recording space. There were other local musicians who also put their music down on wax.
Fast forward to this summer, when a developer out of Myrtle Beach got a permit to demolish the building. It has plans for a 21-story, “Margaritaville”-themed hotel. There would also be rentals and a restaurant.
As the AJC has reported, preservationists including the group Historic Atlanta have been fighting to save the property from the wrecking ball. A lawsuit filed against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and City Planning Commissioner Tim Keane says the city didn't allow for due process when deciding to demolish the building.
Kyle Kessler is an Atlanta architect and preservationist. He tells WSB Radio his letter to the Georgia Historic Preservation Division about the building just got a response. "That in spite of that partial demolition that the building is still 'exceptionally significant,' and is eligible for listing on the National Register," says Kessler. Officially, the state says the building meets a criteria for nomination (to the National Register of Historic Places) which if "completed and submitted...would qualify for listing (in the Register)."
If that were to happen, Kessler sees hope in what the developer could potentially benefit from. "If they so choose to pursue preservation or rehabilitation restoration of the building, that they be eligible for state and federal tax credits," opening Kessler says, "different financial avenues for them that would not be available on just a random old building but are available since this building is being determined to be of national significance."
The state says specifics about potential tax credits are determined at the point of application.
Kessler says he's never been against the developer and its plans per se, but he and other preservationists have "just been asking for them to find some way to be creative and to incorporate as much of the building and as much of its history into their proposed project as possible."
The demolition of the building thus far has taken-out a portion of the back wall. To that, Kessler says it's not yet an irreversible negative. "The partial demolition so far has actually somewhat increased the historic nature by re-exposing some of those original materials that has been covered-over over the years." In fact, Kessler says 80 percent of the original building "there at the time of the 1923 recording session is still intact."
He says there's a continuing groundswell of support for the property, which he hopes can sway a decision from the judge when she decides the fate of 152 Nassau St.