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Decision on Crum & Forster's fate looms Wednesday

There is a scheduled Wednesday Atlanta Urban Design Commission hearing about the Midtown Landmark building

The August Neighborhood Planning Unit-E meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 7 at in Midtown. NPU-E serves Midtown, Ansley Park, Atlantic Station, Home Park, Georgia Tech and West Midtown.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. The volunteer board of elected community leaders make recommendations to the city on voting issues including zoning and permit applications. The agenda, which is at the bottom of this article, will include discussions on new restaurants and upcoming festivals, such as September’s Music Midtown and October’s Atlanta Pride Festival.

There’s also likely to be some banter about Wednesday’s Atlanta Urban Design Commission (UDC) meeting in which there is again a hearing set concerning the fate of Midtown’s Landmark Crum & Forster building.

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

Six weeks ago, it was reported that the Georgia Tech Foundation appeared to have scored a significant victory in the battle over the historic structure located at 771 Spring Street. Wednesday, the UDC will 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 UDC 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 in late June.

According to a 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 on Wednesday 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.

It can be rest assured that a large, vocal and passionate group who side with building preservation will turn out in support of the Crum & Forster at the 4 p.m. Wednesday meeting at City Hall. The Atlanta Preservation Center is encouraging all those who oppose the demolition to attend the meeting in a show of support. For more info on the APC’s strategy, contact info@PreserveAtlanta.com and see this page for the APC’s synopsis and further background information on this issue.

If the High Performance Computing Center for Modeling and Simulation is to become a reality, the 24-story, 680,000 square-foot private and public development would begin construction in 2013 and would be anchored by Georgia Tech and built and programmed around high performance computer modeling and simulation:

  • Institutional academic research needs
  • Financial modeling by banking and investment companies
  • High performance data and network applications by computing and communication services firms
  • Genetic modeling by biotech and medical firms
  • Computational and actuarial modeling by insurance firms

According to Georgia Tech, it will facilitate development of the project by entering into a long-term lease for not more than 50 percent of the space with a private developer who will construct and finance the project, subject to Tech’s approval, and lease the remaining space to commercial companies whose uses are supportive of the project's objectives. The project will be located in Technology Square in Midtown.

Some project objectives according to Georgia Tech:

  • Support the economic development of Atlanta and the State of Georgia through creating jobs, new tax revenues and a technology cluster.
  • Further the promotion of Technology Square as Atlanta's most desirable neighborhood for technology- and scientific-based companies.
  • Enhance Georgia Tech's position as a thought leader in development and use of technologies to solve the grandest scientific and engineering challenges of the 21st Century.
  • Drive anticipatory innovations in High Performance Computing to best serve a diverse research community by converging industry, research and educational leadership in a dynamic, world-class environment.
  • Enhance scientific modeling and simulation at Georgia Tech by providing a cost effective, sustainable and long-term home to high-performance computing.
  • Provide effective (access, layout), attractive (space, stacking, views) and flexible academic and educational support space to Georgia Tech at an efficient cost of occupancy.
  • Strengthen Georgia Tech's competitiveness in recruiting students, faculty and staff, Tech's development efforts with alumni and the general reputation of the University by keeping campus and its adjoining neighborhoods a great place to learn, live, work and visit.
  • Strengthen the urban environment of Technology Square by increasing the work-day or 24-hour population and providing appropriate street level retail.
  • Exemplify high standards of planning, design and sustainability.
  • Employ innovative high-performance computing design, engineering and technology.
  • Provide an exciting and unique HPC showcase element that makes the project an Atlanta destination.
  • Provide high-performance computing and data center space to commercial companies and become the de facto center for excellence for high performance computing in Atlanta.
  • Highly leverage existing telecommunications network infrastructure with a signature expansion in one of the most desirable areas in the City of Atlanta.
  • Redevelop an unsightly neighborhood adjoining the Tech campus.
  • Give preference to the identified site, but consider other sites that can access the W. Peachtree St. fiber network.
  • Create a development that is financially sound (concept, marketability, fiscal strength of developer, proposed financing, rates, reasonable assumptions, will compete in marketplace) and provides an appropriate risk/reward to the projects owners.
  • Create a new ecosystem based around a unique facility modeling high-end computational/network/data-intensive hosting defining the future in trans-disciplinary research, eco-friendly practices, and public/private partnerships.

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Special events and outdoor festivals to be discussed and voted on for approval at Tuesday's NPU-E meeting:

Event Name

Proposed Location

Proposed Event Date

Pure Heat Community Festival

Midtown (Piedmont Park)

September 2, 2012

Susan Komen Atlanta 3-day Festival

Midtown, Ansley Park

October 19 – 21, 2012

Firefly Run Atlanta Festival

Midtown (Piedmont Park)

October 6, 2012

Brave Soldier Challenge Festival

Midtown (Piedmont Park)

August 11, 2012

2012 Walk for Farm Animals Festival

Midtown (Piedmont Park)

October 20,2012

Atlanta World Kite Festival

Midtown (Piedmont Park)

October 6, 2012

Music Midtown Festival

Piedmont Park

September15 - 22, 2012

Be the Match: Be the One Run Festival

Atlantic Station

October 15, 2012

Atlanta Taste of the Trucks Festival

Midtown

September 15, 2012

Walk It Off Community In Motion Fighting Childhood Obesity Festival

Midtown: Piedmont Park

September 14 – 16, 2012

2012 Kids Wheel and Run Festival

Midtown: Piedmont Park

September 29, 2012

The Social Games Greenspace Benefit Festival

Midtown: Piedmont Park

October 6, 2012

Atlanta Pride Festival

Midtown: Piedmont Park

October 13-14, 2012

Kids Ultimate  Fitness Challenge Festival

Midtown: Piedmont Park

October 7, 2012

Taste of Atlanta Festival

Technology Square

October 7 2012

Archival Gotham: NYC on Film Large Gathering

Midtown

August 11, 2012

National Night Out Large Gathering

Atlantic Station

August 7, 2012

 

 License Review Board

Name of Applicant

Type of Business

Name of Business

Property Address

Request

 

Pamela Goldstein

Restaurant

SP5

264 19th Street

(Atlantic Station)

Change of Ownership

Mehwood N. Sohani

Gas Station

Shell Food Mart

486 Ponce De Leon

(Midtown)

Change of Ownership

Justin Caldarella

Restaurant

Eclectic Bistro & Bar

1425-B Piedmont Avenue (Midtown)

Change of Ownership

Brian M. Dralle

Restaurant

BGR The Burger Joint

264 19th Street

(Midtown)

New Business

Patrick Mullett

Restaurant

La Tagliatella

933 Peachtree Street

(Midtown)

Change of Ownership

Carla Edwards

Restaurant

Mint3

132 10th Street

(Midtown)

Change of Ownership

Alan Briggs

Restaurant

Blake’s on the Park

227 10th St

(Midtown)

Change of Agent

Karl Bitter, Jr

Restaurant

Willy’s Mexicana Grill

650 Ponce de Leon

(Midtown)

New Business

 

Zoning Matters

BOARD OF ZONING ADJUSTMENTS

V-12-066 Applicant, William Verhey, seeks a variance from regulations to reduce the east side yard setback from 7 ft. (required) to 3  ft., reduce the rear yard setback from 15ft. (required) to 12ft., and increase the total maximum lot coverage allowed from 50% (required) to 57.7% to allow for a two-story addition to an existing single-family house. Applicant seeks no other variance at this time.

30 Camden Rd

(Brookwood Hills)

N/A

V-12-056 Applicant, John Griffing, seeks a special exception (SEP) from zoning regulations to enclose an existing screen porch for a bathroom to allow for an expansion of an existing non-conforming 4 unit dwelling (apartment 2)/ Applicant seeks no further variances at this time.

1002 State St NW

(Home Park)

N/A

V-12-110 Applicant, George Rohrig, seeks a special exception (SEP) from zoning regulations to reduce the required on-site parking from 33 spaces to 6 on-site parking spaces to allow for a conversion an existing structure to a restaurant (pending lot acknowledgment from the Office of Planning). Applicant seeks no further variances at this time.

969 Marietta St

(Marietta Street Artery & Loring Heights, defering to MSA)

Sept. 6, 2012

BL-12-024 Applicant, Daniel Wintermeyer, seeks a special administrative permit (SAP) to (1) reduce parking space from 41 required to 30 and (2) Reduce loading Area from 1 required to 0.

445 Bishop St

(Loring Heights)

N/A

Boards

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