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With demo stalled, preservationists weigh future of Maynard Jackson’s Vine City home

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Some say the former residence of Atlanta’s first black mayor should be restored

a picture of 220 sunset avenue
Groundbreaker Maynard Jackson used to live in this dilapidated apartment building in Vine City, a few blocks from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta Preservation Center, via Instagram

Some Vine City residents have been up in arms about the prospect of demolishing the former home of Atlanta’s first black mayor.

But for now, the four-unit apartment building at 220 Sunset Avenue that Maynard Jackson once lived in is safe from the wrecking ball.

After hearing the outcry, Bernice King, CEO of the King Center, which owns the property, told concerned neighbors the demolition would be put on hold while the state of the dilapidated building—and whether restoration is possible—could be studied.

The King Center set out to raze the property after discovering it was filled with asbestos and had a caved-in roof, failing structures, unstable floors, and decaying bricks, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Now, preservationist groups are weighing in on the fate of the building, which was used as the first offices of the King Center before the Auburn Avenue facility was built in the early 1980s, according to Saporta Report.

“As mayor, Maynard Jackson gave Atlanta the Minority Business Enterprise program and the Neighborhood Planning Unit system that provided political and economic access to many that had not occurred previously,” said David Mitchell, Atlanta Preservation Center director of operations, in a recent writing on the matter. “We hope we’ll see the same vision serve to promote the longevity of an Atlanta landmark and neighborhood that has given hope to many.”

The U.S. National Park Service and its charity arm the National Park Foundation are helping with the effort to assess the viability of repairing and preserving 220 Sunset, which also sits next to the home Martin Luther King, Jr. lived in until his death in 1968.

A block away, sections of the 16-acre Rodney Cook Sr. Park are expected to open this summer. Even small lots in the area have been spotted asking in the ballpark of $200,000.

Some might have expected the 220 Sunset building would have been better protected as part of the Sunset Avenue Historic District, which was established in 2010.

But the address doesn’t show up on a map of the district, despite it being noted multiple times in the designation application, according to Saporta Report.

“Either way, it is important that we don’t demolish buildings just because they weren’t properly maintained by the owners,” wrote Maria Saporta, the publication’s founder and editor and a longtime friend of the King family.

The property is currently under a conditional sale to the National Park Foundation, which could ultimately determine the fate of Jackson’s former home.