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Should the Crum & Forster be saved?

Reports say preservationists to sue the City of Atlanta in order to save the Midtown Landmark building.

The fate of Midtown's Landmark Crum & Forster building continues to twist and turn.

On Monday, WABE reported that preservationists were readying to sue the City of Atlanta in order to save the building. The station indicated that a local attorney was to file notice of ante litem on behalf of a group who believe City officials are ignoring their own preservation regulations.

Preservationists thought they had scored a significant victory in early August when the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (UDC) voted unanimously to reject an Economic Review Panel’s recommendation to side with the Georgia Tech Foundation Real Estate Holding Corporation’s (GTF) application to demolish the rear two-thirds of the building.

But last month, the City and the GTF reached a settlement of a lawsuit previously brought by the GTF against the City and the City’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) that will allow the BZA to rule on the matter on Nov. 1  

The BZA could allow the foundation to demolish the building, which would go against a court order. But in a statement to WABE Monday, a City official indicated, “The City seeks a balanced resolution that would preserve a portion of the Crum and Forster building and support the construction by the Georgia Tech Foundation of a high tech computing center --- a $100 million investment in Midtown.”

The Crum & Forster, located at 771 Spring Street, was built in 1926 and is positioned across the street from the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. The GTF purchased the building in 2007 in an effort to expand nearby Technology Square. The three-story structure is built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and its most striking architectural feature is a façade with three soaring arches, supported by two columns that accentuate the front entrance. Many argue that in a city where so many buildings have been torn down in the name of progress, this one is worth saving.

The GTF has said that it would like to preserve the front third portion of the building, but demolish the back two-thirds in order to make way for a High Performance Computing Center for Modeling and Simulation, a 24-story, 680,000 square-foot private and public development that would support the economic development of area through creating jobs, new tax revenues and a technology cluster. Some argue the under-utilized brick building is standing in the way of progress.

Meanwhile, others contend that the decision by the City to disregard the recommendation of its own UDC “is very troubling” as Midtown Neighbors’ Association Land Use Committee Chair Tony Rizzuto told Patch earlier this month?

So, what do you think? Is the Crum & Forster building worth saving in part or in whole?

How concerned are you that the City’s actions seemingly demonstrate disrespect for its own zoning ordinances?

Let us know in the comment section below.

JM Hurricane October 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I don't know why this is so hard you do what every city in the world does keep the front and nix the back. In any event Georgia Tech is a top 30 U.S. school and the top 25 tech university worldwide, the balance should be in Tech's favor with achievements like this. Move on people. Atlanta's unemployment is one of the worst in the country. Get a grip we need the JOBS. Empty building NO JOBS, huge Tech blowout JOBS. DAH!
Marc Acampora October 23, 2012 at 01:55 PM
JM, I disagree. The context here is important, namely 1) Atlanta has erased so much of its architectural heritage that what little remains should be protected, 2) there is so much vacant land, parking lots, or crap (like Arbys) in the immediate area that those properties should be pursued before demolishing something of significance. Great cities build new next to old. Atlanta keeps wiping the slate clean and starting over. I refer you to the attractive marble deco building that Cousins demolished at the southwest corner of Peachtree at North. They had to have a Peachtree Street address even though the blocks to the west are vacant lots, parking, or crap. Now we have a vacant lot on Peachtree, and the other vacant lots and crap remain, as well.
Chris October 23, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Is there a reason why the empty GA Tech lots on Spring Street are not acceptable for this development?
Carolyn McLaughlin October 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Thank you for continuing to cover the issues around this Landmark building. Since 1987 with it inclusion in the Atlanta Urban Design Commision's "Atlanta's Lastin Landmarks, the Crum & Forster Building has been recognized as an important historic building. Since it 2007 purchase of the building, the Georgia Tech Thank you for continuing to cover the issues effecting this Landmark building. Since 1987 with it inclusion in the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s "Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks,” the Crum & Forster Building has been recognized as an important historic resource. Since it purchased the building in 2007, the Georgia Tech Foundation has been told on multiple occasions that they cannot demolish this building. The first time was prior to it becoming a designated Landmark. The question has now gone beyond whether or not the building is worth saving but now includes the question, has the public and legal process been honored. Detailed information is available on APC’s website: www.PreserveAtlanta.com.
Lisa Bankoff October 23, 2012 at 04:27 PM
This is a bigger issue than the demolition (or partial demolition) of one building. To follow the city's current path is to leave the City Historic Ordnance with no teeth. If we as a city want to preserve our historic buildings we need to stand behind the ordinance. There are used for the C&F building that are in keeping with it architecture and location. Tech can build its computer center in the vacant lots which it owns between Spring, I-75/85, 9th and Tech Sq. Computers don't care what its building looks like or who its neighbors are.
Midtown Resident October 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
The back 2/3 of the building leave very little to be desired or usable. In fact, the *only* reasons to preserve the ENTIRE building are nominal. The only architecturally significant portion of the building is the part Tech plans to save and incorporate into its tower. Its tower's computing portion needs very large floorplates and can't squeeze onto just the old SunTrust site. I think they are providing a very nice compromise that saves architecture and history AND provides jobs and redevelopment opportunities for the area. People need to get off their inflamed and embettered behinds and acknowledge that this is a good deal all around. Other cities allow the incorporation of historical building fabric into new buildings and it usually ends up more interesting.
JM Hurricane October 24, 2012 at 01:20 PM
My first post said the same thing. Get it started already. WE need JOBS!
JM Hurricane October 24, 2012 at 01:37 PM
If you go to Tokyo, Bangkok or Singapore etc. there will be a 1000 year old Pagoda or Buddist Temple on the same plot of land with a tricked out, 80 story glass skyscraper build around the historical structure. Incorporating it. Accentuating it. Old meets New. Welcome to the 21st century Atlanta. Geez!
Skippy Butter October 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM
See: Hearst Tower, NYC http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Hearst_Tower_Base.JPG http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearst_Tower_(New_York_City) No reason something similar can't be done here. Just get a decent architect to come up with a design. I think the compromise offered by the GTF is fair.
Skippy Butter October 30, 2012 at 10:15 PM
And by similar, I don't mean identical. I meant that with a little creative genius, the older Crum & Forster building could be incorporated into the new computing center in some fashion, as happened with the Hearst Building.
Lisa Martin-Hansen November 01, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I had heard that Tech was interested in keeping the front part of the building but renovating it. I am NOT in favor of tearing down what little is left of Atlanta history, but I also do not want to block getting a structure up to code and to make it more usable.
Cynthia December 18, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Maybe it's just me, but I think this building would make a great Apple store. Apple is known for adapting their modern stores to old architecture (see: grand central station or pretty much any store in Europe). The Barnes & Noble next door already has an apple section that could stand to be expanded. It's perfectly located for GA Tech students and Midtown residents. Not to mention, bringing a stand alone Apple store to midtown Atlanta. I cant be the only one sick of driving to lenox or perimeter for anything Apple.

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