Druid Hills Baptist Church is turning 100 this year. To celebrate, it's hoping to hock a sizable portion of its Poncey-Highland property and see it converted to a mixed-use development. Curbed has learned that plans are afoot for a project that would bring street retail, office space, religious facilities and multi-family residential to the site, which is behind the actual church, an impressive structure at the corner of Ponce de Leon and North Highland avenues. Few specifics have emerged, but the project would rise along North Highland (east of the Urban Outfitters/Plaza Theater center), Blue Ridge and Seminole avenues.
Eric Kronberg of architecture and planning firm Kronberg Wall confirmed that the historic church — which opened in 1914 and is filled inside with classic pinks and turquoises and fairly ornate gold accents — will not be affected by the project. But an adjoining Montessori school, plenty of church office space and whatever else is inside massive brick additions behind the church are likely in peril. It's unclear whether the residences will be condos or apartments, and exactly how much retail could be offered on the site. Kronberg said his team and the church are "still coordinating a lot of the issues with the neighborhood." One document, though, suggested the possibility of 115 "dwelling units" with rents between $1,000 and $1,800 — and a projected construction completion date of January 2016.
DHBC pastor Mimi Walker didn't return inquiries, but planning permits filed last month hinted that the church was in dire financial straits. "(The redevelopment) will provide the much-needed funds to put toward the property's repair and maintenance as a historic landmark to the city and cornerstone to the local neighborhood of Poncey-Highland, thus ensuring the church's ability to stay at this location for the long term." No word on the specifics of any sale in the offing, but tax records list the land value of the church's entire property at more than $4 million.
— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Tyler Estep