In the summer of 2008, the Sophie Mae Peanut Brittle plant — a 60-year-old manufacturing facility on North Avenue that had filled the western flank of Old Fourth Ward with sweet fumes — was shuttering forever. At the time, the AJC made this poignant observation about the candy company, a "faded Southern belle" that had invented peanut brittle but fell victim to America's waning taste for the crunchy stuff: "Sophie Mae's story is Atlanta's story on many levels: a once prosperous hometown industry disappears, a neighborhood that attracted Georgia's rural poor gives way to yuppies and condos, and Atlanta's manic reinvention rolls on." Well, a historic recession got in the way, but now it appears that a reinvention of the candy factory's 1.5-acre property — with its savory location and skyline views — could indeed happen. Once the slate is wiped clean, that is.
The graffiti-scarred, one-story former factory is at the epicenter of a (re)development explosion that includes Ponce City Market down the street and Midtown's crane-filled skies on the flipside. Bisnow reports the City of Atlanta bought the property for $2.7 million last year and now plans to raze it, as part of an ongoing effort backed by HUD funds to rid the O4W of any vacant structure that "presently contributes to deterioration of the area." A city rep tells the website that permitting wheels are in motion to demolish the Sophie Mae structure, but the city has no plans for the land beyond its clearing.
Property records show the parcel is surrounded on three sides by cleared land owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority. Beyond that stands a senior housing tower, multiple midrise apartment complexes and, to the south, Central Park. Barring another economic collapse — and given the city's recent penchant for offloading dead weight like Underground Atlanta and the nearby Civic Center — you wouldn't think this site would stay fallow for long.