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City of Atlanta takes proactive preservation steps with three properties

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Briarcliff Plaza shopping center, two early 20th Century downtown buildings, to be protected

The neon-lit sign and marquee.
The Plaza Theatre will be protected under the new designation.
Road Arch

Proactive preservation is not something Atlanta is known for, but recent news of historic property saves and other measures to protect the city’s older structures suggest the tide could be turning.

Another positive sign: Three buildings—two in downtown and one in Poncey-Highland—will be designated historic structures and protected from demolition.

According to the Saporta Report, the announcement came last week from the city’s head honcho on all things planning, Commissioner Tim Keane, as he addressed attendees of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s 40th annual Awards of Excellence.

Of the three, the most high-profile property is the Briarcliff Plaza, which includes the locally famous Plaza Theatre.

The iconic Art Deco shopping center made news earlier this year when an out-of-town investor shelled out $18 million for the property. Many feared the price tag indicated that redevelopment and greater density were in the near future, despite the new owners promising that wasn’t their intentions.

Downtown, the two buildings given protection sit on Nassau and Walton streets, among a sea of asphalt parking lots to the southeast of Centennial Olympic Park.

Two of the few surviving relics of what was once a bustling district dominated by the film industry, the buildings had been in the crosshairs due to planned expansions of the SkyView attractions and a proposed Margaritaville restaurant.

Now, 141 Walton St. and 152 Nassau St. will remain fixtures in the Fairlie-Poplar district.

Two-story turn-of-the-century commercial buildings painted beige.
152 Nassau Street and 141 Walton Street.
Google Maps

Keane indicated that the protections for the three buildings are effective immediately. Could this be the first move in a larger push for protection of historic properties?