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Judge orders demolition of historic downtown recording studio to halt—again

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Just when it seemed the Margaritaville resort tower, as planned, was a sure thing

A picture of 152 Nassau Street, an aging grey brick building with a black awning, looking small in the shadow of a downtown skyscraper.
Where grease traps and trash compactors for the Margaritaville restaurant are slated to go.
Google Maps

Yet another stop-work order has been issued by a Fulton County judge, again staying the demolition of a historic former recording studio in downtown Atlanta.

Last week, historic preservationist and architect Kyle Kessler announced that a judge had lifted a previously obtained stop-work order after preservationist group Historic Atlanta settled a court case with the City of Atlanta and developers of a 21-story Margaritaville resort tower that’s planned for the recording studio’s 152 Nassau Street site.

At the time, it seemed the two-year effort to save the century-old building was over, all but guaranteeing crews would finish the demolition they started in August.

But now, Kessler tells Curbed Atlanta: “I personally took legal action against the City of Atlanta to stop the demolition of 152 Nassau Street and 141 Walton Street, two historic buildings I had brought to the city’s attention in May 2017.”

(The latter is a former film exchange that’s also on the Margaritaville development site. It’s been largely overshadowed by talk of the recording studio during the fight to save the structures.)

A picture of 152 Nassau Street with a big chunk ripped out of it by a backhoe.
Crews began tearing 152 Nassau Street down in August.
Historic Atlanta, via Facebook

In June 2017, both buildings earned unanimous support from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission to receive Landmark Building designation, Kessler notes.

If the Atlanta City Council voted to approve the designation, it would have made it more difficult for anyone to potentially alter or destroy the properties.

But the following November, lawyers for the developers and the city signed what Kessler calls “an improper agreement that stopped the publicly accessible historic designation process and thereby silenced the people of Atlanta’s right to [a] hearing and subverted democratic principles that prevent abuse of power.”

A hearing for the case is scheduled Friday in Fulton County Superior Court.

Kessler has also garnered nearly 10,000 signatures in an online petition supporting the preservation of 152 Nassau Street.