An Atlanta-based developer's plans for new residential housing in the Sweet Auburn corridor is leaving some in the community with a sour taste over what they see is an erosion of history.
In its place, housing geared toward Georgia State University students.
Integral Group — does not own the property — it still belongs to the Atlanta Daily World newspaper, which now has its headquarters in East Point.
But Integral Group's Valerie Edwards, an executive vice president with the company, made a presentation Feb. 22 before the 11-member Atlanta Urban Design Commission that sought that body's approval to tear down the building, which dates back to 1930.
The Atlanta Urban Design Commission has deferred further discussion until March 28, after a three-member panel studies the impact of the proposal in detail and comes back with recommendations.
Founded in 1928, the Atlanta Daily World is a newspaper focused on issues of importance to black Atlanta.
The media company was headquartered at 145 Auburn until the tornado of March 14, 2008 that ripped through Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
Atlanta Daily World publisher and chief executive M. Alexis Scott, grandniece of the publication's founder, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday.
An Integral Group spokesman said the company does not own the property and referred inquiries to Scott.
GSU officials say it has no involvement in the proposed project.
"We don’t own the property and we haven't had any discussions about it," GSU spokeswoman Andrea Jones told East Atlanta Patch Wednesday. "This was a surprise to us."
Meanwhile, the Historic District Development Corp., a non-profit group that advocates for balanced preservation and revitalization of Sweet Auburn and the greater Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, launched a petition that seeks to impress upon Integral Group officials the building's significance.
HDDC also sent a letter dated Feb. 29 to Georgia State University's president, Mark Becker, to make the case.
The Sweet Auburn corridor long served as the central district for black business and commerce in Atlanta. A key part of that was the Atlanta Daily World, Jesse Clark, HDDC's executive director told East Atlanta Patch.
"It's definitely a contributing structure to the historic district and a part of the story of Auburn Avenue," Clark said. "If the Atlanta Daily World and other historic buildings are demolished on Auburn Avenue, what will be left of its cultural significance?"
Indeed, the Grant Park-based Atlanta Preservation Center last year listed Sweet Auburn as one of 19 most endangered spots in the city.
The APC noted Sweet Aurburn's National Historic Landmark designation in 1976 and its link to the city-designated Martin Luther King, Jr. Landmark District.
"Despite its historic significance, the district has had multiple demolitions in recent years, from redevelopment, neglect, the expansion of Georgia State University and the tornado in 2008," APC wrote in its 2011 report. "The proposed Atlanta Streetcar travels on these streets and could have a tremendous impact on the neighborhood."
HDDC is not opposed to revitalization projects, Clark said. But consideration ought to be given to incorporating existing facades into new construction, similar to efforts undertaken by New York University and the Savannah College of Art and Design.
He added Integral's attempt to distance itself from its initial proposal is nothing short of finger pointing among three parties that all have a stake in what happens.
"Georgia State University is providing the students and the demand for this; it's the catalyst for this," Clark said, noting the university's property acquisitions in recent years. "They do have a role in this even though they want to wash their hands of this.
"Everybody is pointing fingers and that's a convenient way to pass the buck."