August 9, 2012
The Atlanta Preservation Center is pleased to report that on August 8, 2012, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission voted unanimously to deny the Georgia Tech Foundation’s application to demolish two-thirds of the Landmark Crum & Forster Building at 771 Spring Street.
This is the second time that the Georgia Tech Foundation has requested permission to demolish all or part of the site since its purchase in 2007. In this period of time, not only have they been denied their requests but the Building was deemed significant enough to be made a Landmark.
The Urban Design Commission heard more than an hour of testimony from both the applicant and the opposition at the August 8 hearing. The opposition’s testimony was spearheaded by APC counsel, Robert Zoeckler. Additional pointed comments were provided by: Josh Rogers, Executive Director of Historic Macon; Betty Dowling, Professor Emeritus of Georgia Tech and former AUDC Chair; Tony Rizzuto, Land Use Committee Chair of the Midtown Neighbor’s Association; Mtamanika Youngblood of Historic District Development Corporation; Regina Brewer, Preservation Planner for the City of Decatur and former AUDC Chair; Robert Craig, Professor Emeritus of Georgia Tech. There were more than 70 citizens in attendance to support the denial of the application.
After the testimony, the Commissioners posed questions to the representatives of the Georgia Tech Foundation including their counsel, Carl Westmoreland; John E. Majeroni, Executive Director of the Georgia Tech Office of Real Estate Development; and Tom Ventulett of Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Inc., architects for the proposed project. The Commissioners questioned the members of the Economic Review Panel: Tom Aderhold, President of Aderhold Properties; Scott R. Taylor, President of Carter & Associates and John D. Shlesinger, Vice Chairman, CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc.
Subsequent questions and comments by the Commissioners indicated that it was apparent that other options for the site had not been sufficiently explored and that the other parcels on the block owned by the Foundation were not taken into account during the Panel’s review. These findings led to the passing of a motion not to accept the Economic Review Panel’s findings. This was followed by a denial of the application siting that the applicant did not satisfy the required standard for the application and that the Panel’s report was arbitrary and based on erroneous finding of material facts.
This decision by the Commission is a well-fought victory, not just for this specific site but also for the integrity of the City of Atlanta’s legislation that protects its historic assets.