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Grant Park to potential new owner of Atlanta Stockade: Don't demolish the historic buildings, reuse them

Community makes proactive plea to parties interested in former city jail

Sometime tomorrow, developers are expected to finish submitting their offers to buy the Atlanta Stockade, the historic Grant Park property that includes the former city jail.
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? It’s not clear whether whoever ends up buying the land from FCS Ministries will demolish the three structures on the land along Glenwood Avenue, just a few hundred feet from the Atlanta Beltline’s proposed Southside Trail.
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? But Grant Park residents are making their position to potential developers clear: the community strongly wants to see the Gothic tower and two other buildings to remain.
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? “We are really of one mind that we feel that the site is very historic in nature and that it needs to preserved,” says Rick Hudson, a longtime community activist, adding that residents will “fight vehemently” any attempt to bulldoze the Gothic tower visible from I-20 or other structures.
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???? Developers who might think the community is bluffing should look at the property next door to the Stockade. When developer Jeff Fuqua announced plans to build a big-box retail center at 800 Glenwood Avenue, residents mobilized. Meetings, rallies, and calls to city officials helped the community tweak the development proposal, convincing Fuqua to add residential and commercial space to the mix. It's not perfect, but it's better than what was first proposed.
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? “We’ll get 600-plus seats filled at City Hall if we have to,” says Grant Park Neighborhood Association President Lauren Rocereta.
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? Rocereta, who helped lead the battle against the Fuqua proposal, says every person she’s talked to about the Stockade sale has expressed a desire to see the building reused. “No one wanted to see it torn down.”
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? Hudson, who also serves as GPNA's land use chair, and Paul Zucca, a longtime Grant Park resident, say neighbors are sad to see FCS Ministries leave the building. The group operated affordable housing and other service programs out of the building for a period. As Grant Park improved, FCS shifted its focus to other neighborhoods, including South Atlanta, where the nonprofit recently launched a small grocery store to help food access.
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? “They have always been wonderful neighbors,” Hudson says. “The building has always been a landmark in our neighborhood. Even though they weren’t able to continue their ministry in their neighborhood, our neighborhood prospered early because of their efforts. They developed a lot of Mead Street.”
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? Adds Zucca: “They have a long tradition and history of doing a lot of good work, not just in Grant Park but all around Grant Park. They never had any controversy. They were always collaborative. They were always respectful of black, white, Spanish, straight, gay. There was an overall sense of fairness in any project they did. We’re proud of what they’ve done and sad to see them go, but we understand.”
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? Hudson has been in touch with FCS and its broker and explained the community’s position, he says. A “number of developers” — he declined to give names — have come to neighborhood leaders with ideas on how to reuse the property.
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? “I can tell you that if any of the developers have adaptive reuse proposals win the bid, it will be a phenomenal addition to our neighborhood and to southeast Atlanta,” he says.
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? The Stockade is considered a historic property. But it does not enjoy landmark status (though the neighborhood has considered asking the city to intervene and grant that status). A developer could tear it down to make way for another building. However, Hudson says, before any kind of demolition permit could be issued, the request would have to have come up for review and comment at the neighborhood and at City Hall.
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? “As you’ve seen us before during review and comment, we can be quite vociferous,” he says. 
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?We've been playing phone tag with FCS Ministries President Jim Wehner but will update when we hear back.



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