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Downtown Building, Now 89, Still Vacant Despite Location

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The Atlanta of 1927 was a very different place than today. But then, as now, Peachtree Street in the heart of the city was the preeminent address. And on this day 89 years ago, the Beaux-Arts styled Medical Arts Building opened its doors on a bustling stretch of the street in the heart of downtown. While the building still stands, it may be hard to imagine that this partially burned-out, decaying high-rise that looms over the interstate was once a grand edifice featuring state-of-the-art medical offices, according to History Atlanta. But, it was.

Designed by G. Lloyd Preacher — who also designed City Hall — the 12-story building dripped with classic details and exuded the highest fashioned opulence of the period. Encompassing around 89,000 square feet, the building house not only cutting-edge medical offices but featured one of Atlanta's first covered parking garages, a cafeteria, telegraph office, drugstore, post office and the Junior League Tearoom.

During urban flight, the popularity of the area began to decline and medical offices relocated to newer hospital facilities around the city. While the construction of The Connector in the 1950s decimated the surrounding neighborhood, the building soldiered on into the 1980s. The nail in its coffin, however, was the widening of the adjacent interstate, resulting in closed roads which made it difficult to access the building for years, driving out remaining tenants.

The Medical Arts Building has stood vacant for decades and fell victim to a massive fire in 2005. A proposal was floated for a hotel transformation in the mid-2000s, but nothing ever came of the idea. The building's neglect even landed it on the Atlanta Preservation Center's List of Endangered Buildings. But, fortunes are changing for downtown, and it could soon be time for the Medical Arts Building to once again shine, provided it's structurally capable of doing so.

With the wave of development news in the neighborhood — just down the street a new hotel is planned — the building is basically begging to be repurposed, a la its neighbor the Imperial Hotel.

· The Medical Arts Building [History Atlanta]