A century-old downtown building that formerly housed the Atlanta Daily World newspaper will be transformed into apartments and street-level retail, marking a chute of positivity in one of Atlanta's most imperiled historic districts — and confidence that the area could be poised for a comeback. Gene Kansas Commercial Real Estate plans to rehabilitate the two-story 145 Auburn Ave. building and open modernized apartments and 2,500 square feet of retail space by September. As a nod to the building's history — it housed the nation's oldest, continuously operated African American newspaper for decades — the units will be called "Daily World Apartments." In a press release, officials cited the nearby Atlanta Streetcar as a factor in their decision and a selling point for future tenants. (The building's front door is a mere ¼ block from something called "The Piedmont Stop" on that habitually delayed streetcar line). In the grand scheme of things, the project is further proof that Atlanta developers are embracing the city's history more than their bulldozing predecessors. See also: Krog Street Market, the Olympia Building downtown and Ponce City Market.
In January, Kansas bought the property, which had suffered tornado damage in 2008, and is moving forward with the renovation now. All apartments will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, top-end appliances, subway tile showers, hardwood floors, off-street parking and "phenomenal floor plans encompassing 1250 square feet of character, history and charm," the release states. There's no word on rental rates, but it's a safe bet these will be markedly cheaper than The Residence at Buckhead Atlanta.
As for the retail component, Arden's Garden Fresh Juices and Smoothies has signed a five-year lease with plans to open in September. "This project is not just about the revitalization of a single building," Kansas said in a statement, "but also as a shining example of vitality, economic development and preservation for an entire community."
Just two years ago, the neighborhood earned a spot on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of 11 Most Endangered Places. It was the second time in 20 years Sweet Auburn had been given that dubious distinction.
The release offers this quick rundown of the building's rich history:
"Originally constructed in 1912, the intricate brick patterned building at 145 Auburn Ave. stands as steadfast witness and valuable contributor to the city of Atlanta's cultural and physical development. Its namesake comes from the oldest African American newspaper in continuous operation in the United States, the Atlanta Daily World, which occupied the building from 1946 through March 2008. Beloved for its architecture and cultural legacy, a groundswell of community support prevented its demolition in March 2012, with over 1100 individuals signing a petition for its preservation."
· Despite Delays, ATL Streetcar Anticipation Gets Palpable [Curbed]
· Recent Auburn Avenue coverage, discussion [Curbed Atlanta]