Atlanta’s long, ongoing development cycle has seen the adaptive reuse of buildings very large (Ponce City Market, a former Sears distribution hub), small (an old commercial building turned Reynoldstown modern home), and in-between (Krog Street Market, which used to be Tyler Perry’s studios).
If a local development team realizes its vision, a former eastside Masonic Lodge would be added to the city’s growing list of repurposed, once-ailing structures.
Located at the highly visible corner of Moreland and Glenwood avenues, the eight-parcel project’s working title is “The Lodge.” That’s a nod to the 1940s Masonic building that would become the centerpiece of the mixed-use development at 525 Moreland Avenue, where Ormewood Park meets East Atlanta Village.
It’s not the first time big ideas have hatched for the site, but developers tell Curbed Atlanta the process has been more democratic this time. Several design meetings were held with neighbors, as 600 surveys were gathered with community input, according to Jesse Clark, a principal with developer Clark Property R+D.
That firm is partnering with local developers Porch & Square, King Properties, and Tony Riffel for The Lodge project, which is being designed by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.
“We really want to emphasize how this project has been proactive about seeking genuine community feedback to shape the plan,” Clark wrote to Curbed in December. (We agreed to withhold reporting on the plans until renderings and details were more finalized.)
“Too often developers tell the community what they want instead of just asking them first,” Clark continued. “It’s been exciting and refreshing to see the plan improved through neighborhood feedback and embraced by the community.”
Clark said the eight properties comprising the site—a parking lot, commercial buildings, and five older houses—were once assembled by another developer with the intention of building a large-scale, high-density redevelopment. But a planned pharmacy drive-thru, proposed demolition of the Masonic Lodge, the addition of structured parking, and the overall density sparked community pushback that hobbled those ambitions.
Overriding themes that emerged during the community engagement phase: save the Masonic building and add pedestrian-friendly mixed uses, with mixed-income housing, public spaces, and a buffer for single-family homes nearby, Clark said.
The Masonic Lodge has been neglected for years but remains structurally sound, developers say. It was built in 1947 and used as a Masonic Grand Lodge upstairs with a Kroger at street level.
The redevelopment favored by local majority would spare the Masonic Lodge and an older home on Glenwood Avenue, while creating a central public plaza and adding a “gentle density” mix of office and retail, plus 42 units of workforce housing geared toward residents earning 60 percent of Area Median Income or below, per developers. (Rea Ventures Group would develop the workforce housing component.)
The intent is that the buildings will hide parking and scale down to adjacent homes in the neighborhood.
The next step, Clark said, is to submit a revised rezoning site plan to the city in hopes of breaking ground on the $14 million project by the end of 2019.