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City council opposes demolition of historic recording studio, but destruction continues

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The Atlanta City Council passed a resolution protesting the downtown building’s razing for a Margaritaville

A picture of 152 Nassau Street, an aging grey brick building with a black awning, looking small in the shadow of a downtown skyscraper.
Interior gutting commenced here last week.
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Although the entire Atlanta City Council opposes the destruction of a former downtown recording studio, demolition crews are still actively tearing apart the historic building.

During Monday’s council meeting, officials voted 14-0 in favor of a resolution that protests the demolition of 152 Nassau Street to make way for a towering Margaritaville resort.

The passage of that legislation, however, was little more than a symbolic gesture, and the recording studio seems no closer to being saved from the wrecking ball.

Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who introduced the resolution, said Atlanta is “just dripping with musical heritage” that needs to be preserved.

“How bad would it be if the city that holds itself up as the Motown of the South or the hip-hop capital of the world turns around and demolishes the home of music history?” Bond asked, adding: “We’ll continue to scramble behind the scenes” to see if the demolition can be stopped.

Councilman Amir Farokhi said “most, if not all of us, want to see these two buildings protected,” but he had concerns the city’s legal team might believe the damage had already been done.

A representative from the city’s legal department suggested the developer had properly and lawfully acquired demolition permits, and that there didn’t seem to be any emergency to warrant a stop-work order, which historic preservationists have called for.

Preservationist group Historic Atlanta sent a letter to city officials a couple weeks ago that called 152 Nassau Street and 141 Walton Street “vital landmarks of the early days of Atlanta’s music and film heritage.”

But interior demolition of the old recording studio has commenced, and getting city officials to issue a stop-work order at this stage, observers say, seems more and more like a pipe dream.

As Rolling Stone relayed in a report on the demolition proceedings last week, in 1923 Fiddlin’ John Carson recorded in the Nassau Street building “what’s widely considered to be the first country-music hit,” a song called The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane for “the legendary record scout Ralph Peer.”

And as the AJC has pointed out, the approximate location of the current buildings would house the Margaritaville restaurant’s grease traps and Dumpsters.