Preservationists urge Atlanta to stop demolition of downtown buildings for Margaritaville project

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Preservationists are still stewing over plans to raze a historic building downtown to make way for a high-rise Margaritaville resort.

Preservationist group Historic Atlanta last week sent a letter to City of Atlanta officials demanding a “stop-work order” be issued to prevent the demolition of 152 Nassau Street, where the first hit country music record was made in the 1920s, and 141 Walton Street, which housed the city’s last remaining film exchange.

In 2017, the development partnership of Wyndham Destinations and Margaritaville Vacation Club made what Historic Atlanta leaders call a “sweetheart deal” with then-Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration that would allow the developers to tear down the buildings “without any review by the public or even city council,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.

Historic Atlanta’s letter to city officials reads as follows:

“I demand that you IMMEDIATELY issue a STOP-WORK ORDER and revoke the recently-issued demolition permits for 152 Nassau Street and 141 Walton Street—vital landmarks of the early days of Atlanta’s music and film heritage. The agreement between the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Partners, LLC is unenforceable because it violates Georgia’s Zoning Procedures Law (ZPL) and should be formally rescinded along with the demolition permits.”

The deal made between Reed’s administration and the developers, which Historic Atlanta says was the “golden ticket” needed to circumvent zoning procedures and public engagement, allowed for the demolition of the two buildings only if “at least a 10-story hotel” costing at least $100 million replaced them, according to Saporta Report.

In May 2017, Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane led efforts to designate both buildings as historic landmarks. But the city’s Zoning Review Board turned down 141 Walton Street’s designation, and the process to recognize 152 Nassau Street as historically significant “abruptly halted,” the publication reported.

The curious stop in the process, Historic Atlanta leaders believe, came at the behest of Reed.

The developers filed requests for demolition permits in December, which have been granted.

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