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Neighbor decries plans to bulldoze 1913 Poncey-Highland relic for bank branch

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Chase Bank has filed plans for a walk-up branch at a high-profile Ponce de Leon Avenue corner

The century-old Barnett Building in 2012, facing Ponce de Leon Avenue with Moe’s Southwest Grill to the right.
The century-old Barnett Building in 2012, facing Ponce de Leon Avenue with Moe’s Southwest Grill to the right.
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Plans to demolish an early 20th century commercial building on a high-profile Ponce de Leon Avenue corner have some Poncey-Highland neighbors grumbling.

The old structure from behind.
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JPMorgan Chase Bank is in the process of buying the circa-1913 Barnett Building, which stands between a Rite Aid and Moe’s Southwest Grill, with intentions of demolishing the structure for a walk-up bank branch, according to a tipster associated with Poncey-Highland who asked to remain anonymous.

The Craftsman-style structure stands at the corner of Ponce and Barnett Street.

Because the building is located within a Beltline overlay district, developers were required to submit two variation requests to city planning offices; one would shrink the Barnett Street sidewalk by four feet, and the other would waive a requirement for primary entrances at sidewalk level.

“It would be so refreshing to see someone consider the idea of renovating the 105-year-old building instead of demolishing it for a stucco-n-brick bank branch,” wrote the tipster via email.

“While owners would be well within their rights to demolish the existing building,” the emailer continued, “the project appears to both neglect the history of the neighborhood while also ignoring its potential future as a walkable way-point in the heart of modern Atlanta.”

A vestige of an era when Ponce was lined with grand homes, the Barnett Building dates to 1913 and includes nearly 7,400 square feet, per property records.

The property’s relation to Ponce de Leon Avenue, as seen five years ago.
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Law firms, therapists, insurance companies, and others have maintained offices at The Barnett Building.

According to permitting paperwork, the existing home structure, retaining walls, and a portion of the parking lot would be removed for a 3,450-square-foot Chase Bank branch with an enlarged parking lot of 17 freshly striped spaces.

We’ve reached out to Chase Bank officials for comment and project timelines and will post any information provided.

UPDATE: A Chase Bank representative sends the following: “We plan to start construction in November this year and open in the summer of 2019. We are working with city officials to ensure that our design elements meet those of the neighborhood.”

Below are renderings and a site plan submitted this month to Atlanta’s planning department:

How the project would meet Barnett Street, with a fire escape, exit-only door at right.

The Barnett Building isn’t the only old Ponce structure recently threatened with development.

A few blocks west, next door to the Yaarab Shriners Temple, a circa-1919 mansion that functioned as part of the Shady Rest Inn hotel business in the 1920s—but is more commonly referred to as The Big House on Ponce, or 368 Ponce—is on the market for $4.6 million. It functions as an Airbnb and eclectic arts center.

Sellers insist that the Midtown site would make a prime spot for high-rise condos with skyline views.