The Atlanta Beltline is working with a developer who hopes to build a mixed-use complex that would drastically change a key piece of real estate bordering Historic Fourth Ward Park. While no one connected to the project would confirm it, plans indicate the development could spell the end for The Masquerade's 25-year run as an indoor/outdoor music venue, though historic elements of the former mill would be retained. In a letter circulated by Kimball D. Robinson of developer Southeast Capital Companies, the project is described as a five-story, multifamily building with a maximum of 238 units and a 6,148-square-foot commercial space, which would front Historic Fourth Ward Park. The existing Masquerade complex, which has been designated a historic landmark, would be "retained and rehabilitated as the centerpiece of the new development," Robinson writes, adding: "The new (residential) development will occur at the rear of the existing Masquerade building." Whether the plans call for retaining a music venue of any sort is unclear. But a site plan indicates that The Masquerade's current lawn would be repurposed for parking and loading, among other changes.
Robinson's letter gives no timeline for when the project might move forward. Like Masquerade officials, Robinson did not respond to inquiries this week. A zoning application filed by Atlanta Beltline Inc. estimates the project will be completed in February 2017.
As is, the property in question is three separate parcels totaling 3.3 acres, with Southeast Capital Companies controlling the largest piece. The Beltline still owns about ½ acre, and Invest Atlanta controls the rest. Last month, Beltline officials submitted an application for rezoning to the city, which is necessary to incorporate all land into the project and provide a commercial piece to the residential units. So why is the Beltline assisting developers to help pull this deal off? "The simple answer is that we own the land and have an interest in seeing that the development that occurs on it is in line with our master plan and vision," Beltline spokeswoman Ericka Davis tells Curbed Atlanta.
Officials were careful to point out that the Beltline's rezoning application would not impact the landmark status of the Dupre Excelsior Mill building, which dates to around 1900. In the late 1970s, the building was converted into a pizzeria. The Masquerade, a four-stage music venue, has operated in the compound since 1989, hosting eclectic musical acts and festivals. During recent Music Midtown shows, members of bands such as Jane's Addiction and Foo Fighters have tipped their hats to The Masquerade. Online, the venue touts a full slate of upcoming shows and enthuses on Facebook, "We've hit 70,000 Likes!"
In an interview with Curbed Atlanta last year, Masquerade officials were adamant that the venue would not be closing or relocating, despite encroachment from nearby residential development that had consumed parking spaces for concert-goers. Rumors of an impending move to venues such as Atlantic Station have been frequent since the building changed ownership several years ago.
Robinson's letter sheds some light on what the property's transformation could look like. "The concept incorporates urban design features found throughout the district and responds aesthetically to the context of the surrounding area," Robinson writes. "The local, award-winning firm of Smith Dalia Architects, who have worked extensively in and around the Old (Fourth) Ward and Beltline areas, will be producing the new design. We believe this adds assurance that the best interest of the neighborhood is being served by such an experienced and recognized firm." In neighboring Inman Park, Smith Dalia designed the Inman Quarter mixed-use project, which is nearing completion.
The rezoning application provides a few more specifics and hints that the project could bring more rentals — as opposed to for-sale condos — to the area. The complex would offer 139 one-bedroom units, 72 two-bedrooms and 10 live-work units for 221 total. Average monthly rents would be about $1,870, the application states. The development would have direct access to both the Beltline and Historic Fourth Ward Park.
Editor's note: Earlier reports that the Masquerade complex could be demolished and replaced by a building that reached as high as 22 stories were incorrect.