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Atlanta’s most annoyingly vacant places: three years later

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Redevelopment abounds, but abundance of rotting structures leaves much to be desired

In late 2013, we strapped on our collective thinking caps and set out to photograph, for posterity’s sake, some of Atlanta’s “most annoyingly vacant places” as one of the first installments in the Visual Journeys series.

Three years later, with post-recession development booming across Atlanta, it seemed an opportune time to circle back and see how these underutilized, often blighted places are faring.

The news is both good and ... well, not news at all.

Some sites have been unrecognizably transformed, while the spirit-killing annoyance of boarded windows, fenced-off lots, and general inactivity persists elsewhere. In general, downtown has some catching up to do with other core areas, especially Midtown.

The primary images below are from 2013, followed by updates and, when available, more recent images:

Atlanta Life Insurance Co., 142-148 Auburn Ave.

Status: STANDING, STILL ABANDONED

Notes: With Neoclassical facades, these buildings were originally residences but served as offices for Atlanta Life Insurance Co. for six decades. They’ve been vacant since 1980, though the finished Atlanta Streetcar loop in front offers a sign of investment.

...

29-33 North Ave.

Status: STANDING, POSSIBLY OCCUPIED

Notes: A block east of The Varsity, at least one of these properties may have found use since 2013, according to online records and Google Maps imagery. The low-rise building at left still appears vacant.

...

Fourteen 17th St.

Status: STANDING, STILL ABANDONED

Notes: Though land deals and new sky-rises abound in the vicinity, this old Midtown structure remains fallow, as seen below in August:

...

Forsyth-Walton Building, 52 Walton Street - S

Status: STANDING, FUTURE UNCERTAIN

Notes: Following preservationist uproar over demolition plans last year, the century-old Forsyth-Walton Building could possibly be redone to serve as a cooling facility (see below) for the tech tower next door, last we heard.

...

McMahon Shoes, 505 Courtland St.

Status: DEMOLISHED, VACANT LOT

Notes: R.I.P.

...

505 Peachtree St.

Status: STANDING, STILL ABANDONED

Notes: This prominent, bland edifice wedged between a shuttered club and the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse has stood on Atlanta’s main drag since 1920. Records suggest it’s owned by Emory University.

...

Medical Arts Building, 384 Peachtree St.

Status: STANDING, STILL ABANDONED

Notes: One of Atlanta’s most visible, wince-worthy eyesores is still a mess, but hope resides in plans for The Stitch, which would cap The Connector next door and immediately up the value here.

...

Bell Building, 25 Auburn Ave.

Status: STANDING, FUTURE UNCERTAIN

Notes: This early 1900s classical structure became a rallying point for preservationists last year when ever-expanding Georgia State University announced plans to replace it (temporarily) with a parking lot. Those behind the “Save the Bell!” initiative have other ideas:

...

Atlanta Constitution Building, 143 Alabama St.

Status: STANDING, FUTURE BRIGHTENING

Notes: As an adaptive-reuse venture, this one could be special. And the city agrees, having put the long-vacant building up for sale last month. Proposals from developers are due in about two weeks.

...

HL Green Co. Building, Broad Street and MLK Jr. Drive

Status: STANDING, STILL ABANDONED

Notes: Still available for development, just south of Underground Atlanta.

...

Buildings along Broad Street

Status: IT’S COMPLICATED

Notes: A revitalization is slowly happening around here, but the presence of new art galleries and other creatives is threatened by big-money development of Underground Atlanta and its surroundings.

...

160 Trinity St.

Status: STANDING, APPARENTLY STILL VACANT

...

Building at Trinity Street and Pryor Avenue

Status: STANDING, STILL ABANDONED

Notes: A damn shame.

...

Rufus-Rose House, 537 Peachtree St.

Status: STANDING, FUTURE UNCERTAIN

Notes: Preservationists have long been pulling for the revival of this historic Peachtree Street residence. A mixed-use transformation (offices, a restaurant, and performance venue) announced in 2015 hasn’t exactly panned out.

...

Agatha's, 693 Peachtree St.

Status: DEMOLISHED

Notes: The crusty former home of Agatha’s dinner theater became bulldozer bait earlier this year, making way for the lilli Midtown tower, at left:

...

Former JCPenney Building, 715 Peachtree St.

Status: STANDING, REHAB NEARLY COMPLETE

Notes: Built in 1972, the 10-story structure served as offices for JC Penney for four decades. Abandoned since 2012, the old office was purchased by Carter for a reported $50 million, and it could soon welcome new office tenants, street-front shops, and restaurants:

...

Festering Lot 1, 1301 Peachtree St.

Status: LOCATION OF ONE MUSEUM PLACE CONDOS

Notes: Priced from $1 million to $3 million+, some of Atlanta’s swankiest new condo products have claimed the empty lot across the street from the High Museum.

...

Festering Lot 2, 1230 Spring St.

Status: PARTIALLY TO BECOME 15TH STREET EXTENSION

Notes: This:

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Vacant Funeral Parlor, 1270 Spring St.

Status: LOCATION OF 1270 SPRING ST. APARTMENTS

Notes: Mid-rise apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail are being built where a long-dead funeral home stood.

...

Festering Lot 3, Spring and 14th streets

Status: NEIGHBOR OF APOGEE MIDTOWN

Notes: This space maybe be vacant, but the parking lot pictured across the street is swiftly becoming this:

...

Sophie Mae Peanut Brittle Plant, Old Fourth Ward

Status: DEMOLISHED

Notes: This large lot next to Midtown has been cleared, and the rumor mill suggests townhouses are in the offing.

...

Beltline lot, where Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and DeKalb Avenue converge

Status: BEING REDEVELOPED INTO APARTMENTS, AND MORE BELTLINE

Notes: Remember the ratty old Edgewood Avenue bridge?

Emory University

201 Dowman Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30322 404 727 6123 Visit Website

The Varsity

61 North Avenue Northwest, , GA 30308 (404) 881-1706 Visit Website

Georgia State University

33 Gilmer Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 404 413 2000 Visit Website

Underground Atlanta

50 Upper Alabama Street, , GA 30303 (404) 963-5415 Visit Website