An Atlanta dive-bar institution that's been ushering musical acts toward bigger and better things since OutKast was in high school and Kurt Cobain was alive could reportedly be forced to shutter. Morningside Strip Center, a 90-year-old Piedmont Avenue retail strip where Smith's Olde Bar has been a key tenant since 1993, is set be auctioned off at the end of August, reports Tomorrow's News Today, citing a package of sales materials. The sale includes Smith's, several other retail slots (all of which have been vacated or are currently hosting liquidation sales) and 25 parking spaces. A key paragraph in the sales information, as cited by the website, states: "Ownership has positioned the tenancy so that the buildings can be repurposed for urban retail and/or entertainment in the near term. The site could be potentially completely redeveloped; however, due to the age and history, this may require extensive negotiation with the neighborhoods and NPU." Elsewhere, the sales package indicates that Smith's management had been issued a 60-day notice to vacate, but they aren't leaving the party peacefully.
TNT reports that Smith's has filed a lawsuit against the property owner challenging the notice to vacate, citing an insider with knowledge of the situation. Across five separate spaces, the venue occupies more than 10,500 square feet of the property's overall 17,767 square feet.
For the uninitiated, Smith's is a multi-stage dive bar, pool hall and barbecue emporium that even CNN has called "one of the city's best-loved music venues." On Smith's website, the venue is touted as "an Atlanta institution, offering some of the best music to be found anywhere in the city." The ragtag stage in the attic is a particularly grand place to swill cheap beer, shout at lead singers and break a sweat. The 300-capacity Music Room has hosted the likes of Widespread Panic, B.o.B., Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket, John Mayer and thousands more over the last two decades, the website states.
The news of Smith's possible ouster continues a year of commercial real estate transactions that's kept fans of some of Atlanta's most iconic musical and social venues on edge.
Developers plan to transform the parking lots around storied watering hole Manuel's Tavern into a mixed-use project — thankfully leaving the bar in place, following renovations. The same can be said for blues hall Northside Tavern on the Westside, which developers plan to preserve within a six-story pocket of upscale apartments. Meanwhile, the Clermont Lounge will remain tucked like a dirty magazine under the bed of a boutique hotel that's (slowly) being built above it. But the same can't be said for the granddaddy of scuzzy Atlanta music venues, The Masquerade. News broke this month that developers have closed on The Masquerade's property and surrounding acreage, leaving the future of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory in limbo.