Atlanta Housing (AH) will include the iconic Civic Center auditorium in its massive mixed-income housing redevelopment for the 19-acre site in Old Fourth Ward.
When AH’s board executed a master development agreement in July for the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, it tapped the joint venture of Republic Family of Companies, Michaels Development Co., and Sophy Companies to build out the vacant land surrounding the historic building. The board voted Nov. 15 to add the 4.4-acre performing arts center to the plan.
The performing arts center will be “reimagined as a more intimate space” to “attract an array of community-based performers and artists,” the housing authority said in an announcement.
AH added that using “one master developer for the entire property will provide efficiencies and cost savings with shared resources such as infrastructure and parking.” The agency did not respond to Atlanta Civic Circle’s request for more details.
The housing authority’s decision to incorporate the auditorium in the site’s overhaul assuages concerns raised by historic preservationists over the 60-year-old structure’s future. In its heyday, the Civic Center hosted Broadway musicals, operas, concerts, appearances by Georgia governors, senators, and a president—and a Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.
“The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center is a part of Atlanta’s architectural attitude, and this decision demonstrates a thoughtful and willing desire to remember,” said David Mitchell, the executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center.
“The Atlanta Housing board has recognized the significance of the performing arts center by ensuring this historic asset of our community is forever established, due to its role with the arts, culture, and identity of Atlanta,” he added. “In sum, the humanities have been protected by historic preservation.”
The unique brick building at the heart of the property, famous for its 4,600-seat auditorium, has been sitting idle since 2014, overgrown with trees and weeds.
According to the master development agreement inked in July, Atlanta Civic Center Partners—composed of national developers, Republic and Michaels, and a local minority-owned firm, Sophy—will build 1,507 housing units on the site.
Most will charge market-rate rent, but 590 will be priced as affordable for households earning up to 120% of the area median income (about $116,000 for a family of four).
While new housing will dominate the redevelopment, the performing arts center promises to anchor the Civic Center to its celebrated history.
“We have an immense opportunity here to not only preserve a part of Atlanta history but also to empower the community by providing jobs, beautiful community spaces, and access to prime amenities such as a state-of-the art theater,” AH’s CEO, Eugene Jones, said in the announcement.