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Review Panel Sides With Georgia Tech Foundation Concerning Crum & Forster

Unless preservationists can convince three-fourths of the Atlanta UDC that the panel's findings are wrong, two-thirds of Landmark Midtown building will most likely be demolished.

With a possible hearing concerning the fate of Midtown’s Landmark Crum & Forster building just days away, the Georgia Tech Foundation appears to have scored a significant victory in the battle over the historic structure located at 771 Spring Street.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (UDC) is scheduled to again hear from representatives from both the foundation and preservationists as to why the back two-thirds of the building should or should not be removed in order to make way for a High Performing Computing Center, a potential 24-story, 680,000 square-foot public-private development on the block.

, Georgia Tech representatives explained to the UDC that it was not economically feasible to restore the entire building. Preservationists contended that the case of unreasonable economic return is unsupported and that the partial demolition of a Landmark property undermines the integrity of the City’s Preservation Ordinance.

The three-story structure, designed in 1926 and opened in 1928, was built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. Its most striking architectural feature is a façade with three soaring arches, supported by two columns that accentuate the front entrance. That portion would be saved according to the Georgia Tech Foundation’s plans.

Built for the Crum & Forster Insurance Company, the site is considered significant in establishing Atlanta as a regional center for insurance firms.

At the early May meeting, the UDC established an “Economic Review Panel” that ultimately consisted of three men. Those individuals - Tom Aderhold, president of Aderhold Properties, Scott Taylor, president of Carter & Associates, and John Shlesinger, vice chairman of the commercial real-estate firm, CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc. presented their recommendation to the UDC late last week.

And according to a Sunday story from the SaportaReport, the panel sided significantly with the Georgia Tech Foundation. From the SaportaReport:

“Based on our review, the Economic Review Panel is in unanimous agreement that a reasonable economic return cannot be achieved under any methodology that involves renovating the existing structure and that the applicant’s suggested approach to saving the façade and a small component of the structure as part of a new development is both gracious and fair given the current real estate environment,” wrote Shelsinger.

Unless preservationists can convince at least three-fourths of the commission that the panel was wrong in its determination, the panel’s findings will be accepted. And if they stand, it’s reasonable to assume that the foundation will move forward with its intention to remove the back two-thirds of the building.

A representative with the Atlanta Preservation Center could not be reached by Patch on Monday for comment concerning the panel’s recent findings.

The UDC is set to meet Wednesday afternoon and would then receive the panel’s report. However, according to the SaportaReport, all three panel members will not be able to attend, so a request has been made to defer the application to a future meeting. It is not known if such a date has been set, but Patch will relay such information as it comes.

Still, whenever such a meeting is held, it can be rest assured that a large, vocal and passionate group who side with building preservation will turn out in support. The fight for Crum & Forster wages on…

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Nicholas Wolaver June 26, 2012 at 01:25 PM
It is a shame that Kwanza Hall is working to circumvent laws about historic preservation (as reported in Sunday's AJC). I think this is wrong, and if you agree, send an email to Hall via the contact email address at this link: http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/members/hall/Kwanza%20Hall%20Bio%20Contact%20Page.html
Carolyn McLaughlin June 26, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Hunt, Thank you for writting about this important issue. The Atlanta Preservation Center has many of the primary documents related to this case at www.PreserveAtlanta.com. Carolyn Atlanta Preservation Center
Hunt Archbold (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Just to confirm, the Atlanta Urban Design Committee has deferred Wednesday’s scheduled hearing concerning the Crum & Forster Building so all members of the Economic Review Panel can be present. No rescheduled meeting date has been announced yet.
Henry Batten June 26, 2012 at 10:19 PM
If the Tech Foundation followed the principles taught at the Tech School of Architecture, they could find a way to incorporate all of this historic structure into the new one, and do so economically. However, these guys don't practice what is taught. Just look at Tech's campus. Horrible example of urban planning.
Hunt Archbold (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 10:22 PM
At last week’s Atlanta Urban Design Commission hearing, the application for a Type IV Certificate of Appropriateness for demolition due to unreasonable economic return submitted by the Georgia Tech Foundation for the Crum & Forster Building, was deferred to August 8, 2012.

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