Tell Integral & GSU: Don't Demolish the Atlanta Daily World Building
OUTCOME: On March 28th, 2012, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission voted unanimously (9-0) to deny the application for demolition of the Atlanta Daily World building. Thank you for your resounding support to preserve Atlanta's history! News coverage of the AUDC decision is below:
UPDATE #1: We will be presenting this petition to the Atlanta Urban Design Commission - the entity that will approve or deny the demolition application - on MARCH 28th. Please sign the petition and distribute to your networks. Thank you for your support!
UPDATE #2: Integral and the publisher of the Atlanta Daily World recently released a statement claiming they intend to save the building facade. However, the site plan in Integral's demolition application shows only 5 feet of the original building would remain in most places. This amounts to a token gesture toward preserving this important structure and we are steadfast in our opposition to this demolition application.
An application has been filed by the Integral Group to demolish the historic Atlanta Daily World building on Auburn Avenue to make way for new Georgia State University student housing. Built in 1930, this building was the long-term headquarters of the first successful African-American daily newspaper in the United States.
GSU is expanding into the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District and the Integral Group is developing this project to meet their increased demand for housing. This project will set the tone for how private development for GSU students treats the irreplaceable historic resources in our community.
If the Atlanta Daily World and other historic buildings are demolished on Auburn Avenue, what will be left of its cultural significance?
There are plenty of models for how private developers and universities can expand while respecting the community's urban fabric (SCAD, NYU). Please join us in telling Integral Group to do the right thing and become a part of our neighborhood, not to replace it with GSU's campus.
PRESS & SUPPORT
- President and CEO, Egbert Perry
I just signed the following petition addressed to the Integral Group and Georgia State University.
Dear Mr. Perry,
This letter is in response to an application filed by the Integral Group to demolish the Atlanta Daily World building located at 145 Auburn Avenue to make way for Georgia State University student housing. Built in 1930, the building was the long-term headquarters of the first successful African-American daily newspaper in the United States and is a contributing structure to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District.
According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, the Atlanta Daily World was named a "historic site in journalism" by the Society of Professional Journalists, and that same year its founder, W. A. Scott II, was inducted into the Black Press Archives' Gallery of Distinguished Newspaper Publishers at Howard University. In 1996, he was inducted into the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia.
Other community awards include the Media of the Year Award from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, the Media Award from the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, the President's Award from the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and induction into the Atlanta Business League's Business Hall of Fame.
Redevelopment, At What Cost?
The historic Auburn Avenue commercial district, often referred to as “Sweet Auburn,” is the birthplace of African-American economic, cultural and civic life within the city. While the street is perhaps best known as the birth place, church and final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it was also a pivotal launch pad for the Civil Rights Movement and a focal point of fostering African-American economic opportunity in Atlanta. However, in a story familiar across the country, disinvestment, urban renewal and the loss of industry worked together to depress the vitality of the area.
The urban sprawl of Georgia State University and impending redevelopment from the Atlanta Streetcar creates both an opportunity for economic development within the area and a threat to the urban fabric that makes this Historic District significant. For this reason, the Atlanta Preservation Center placed the Auburn & Edgewood Avenue Commercial District on its 2011 list of Most Endangered Historic Places. If redevelopment occurs on Auburn Avenue at the expense of its irreplaceable historic resources, what will be the significance of what is left in its place?
In 2005, a public workshop for the Butler/Auburn Redevelopment Plan Update was held in the community that asked, “What does Sweet Auburn mean to you?” Among the many answers were the following comments:
- “Atlanta’s most important street, with a cultural, spiritual and historic legacy
- The cultural and emotional center of Atlanta, the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, and rich in African-American history
- It is the epicenter of world peace, and civil rights, and impacts the nation and the world”
The Redevelopment Plan recommended the preservation of the Atlanta Daily World building and listed the site’s future land use as its current low-density commercial. The plan went on to explain the need to preserve the historic character of Auburn Avenue that the community so emphatically cherished:
“Authenticity is critical in keeping Sweet Auburn alive and connected to its past. Every effort must be made by the future redevelopment entity to discern the authentic in Sweet Auburn, and take steps to preserve and enhance it.”
Over $47 million in public investment is going toward the construction of the Atlanta Streetcar on Auburn Avenue in order to connect it as a cultural tourism counterpoint to the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke. Furthermore, over 600,000 tourists from across the world visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District every year. If the history of the Atlanta Daily World building is erased with new student housing in its place, how would that affect the appeal of Auburn Avenue as a cultural tourist destination? The preservation of the cultural character of Auburn Avenue will ensure that this area remains a truly unique destination that continues to attract visitors into perpetuity.
GSU, A Part of the Community, Not Apart from it
There is a model for how universities can expand into an existing urban fabric while preserving the historic resources of the community. SCAD has shown this through their restoration of Ivy Hall on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta as well as their culturally sensitive campus expansion in Savannah. NYU has demonstrated how to integrate the existing urban buildings into their campus expansion as well. This comes down to a choice by the Integral Group and GSU of whether they will respect this historic character or attempt to erase its national history and rebrand the community as its college campus. We welcome the presence of GSU as a neighbor in our community, but not as a replacement to our community.
In GSU’s Main Street Master Plan Update 2005-2015, the Campus Planning Committee established several principles to guide the framework of GSU’s expansion. Of particular relevance to this project were #1, “Integrate the university into the City of Atlanta. (A part of the City, not apart from the City.)” and #5, “Create a sense of place and identity.” Furthermore, in January 2011, the university presented their five to ten year strategic plan. The plan outlined five primary goals along with initiatives to guide the school’s growth and direction. Goal #4 especially relates the opportunity that GSU has with the Atlanta Daily World building, which states “Be a leader in understanding the complex challenges of cities and developing effective solutions.” GSU's stated principles and goals compel the university to take an alternate approach and preserve the Atlanta Daily World building, maintain the community's sense of identity, and become an example of how to develop an effective solution to the complex challenge of historic preservation amid campus expansion.
This Application will set the tone for how revitalization on Auburn and Edgewood Avenues will occur with the Atlanta Streetcar and the expansion of GSU’s campus. If this demolition is approved and the Integral Group neglects the demands of the community to respect our historic resources, this will add to the steady deletion of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District and its significance to the city, state, country and world. We are demanding that the Integral Group and GSU prevent the demolition of the Atlanta Daily World building and work with the community to incorporate the renovation of the structure in their development plans.
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