GSU: Bell Building can't be classrooms or labs but we're exploring adaptive reuse

A historic Downtown building gets a closer look after threat of demolition

Georgia State University officials say it's too expensive to turn Downtown's Bell Building into labs and classrooms but they're exploring other ways to reuse the building, not demolishing it.

Last August, GSU announced plans to demolish a historic four-story building the school owns on Auburn Avenue. School officials wanted to knock down the Bell Building, the one-time home of the Southern Bell Telephone Exchange, to create a parking lot until another use was found for the donated building.

Preservationists mobilized. They argued that the building was important to Downtown's streetscape, historic, and had potential. It just needed rehabilitation work. In addition, it located next door to a parking lot and the Atlanta Streetcar runs in front of the structure. (I also argued it was worth saving.)

School officials said adaptive reuse was cost prohibitive, saying a study found the the building needed at least $18 million in rehab work, which included cleaning up lots of pigeon feces. 

The city, including Planning Commissioner Tim Keane, stepped in, and all sides started trying to find a resolution.

GSU Spokeswoman Andrea Jones last week told CL that school officials are looking how the existing building can be reused.

"We completed the feasibility study and determined that it is cost prohibitive to use the building for lab or classroom space," she said in a statement. "There are no current plans to take the building down and we are exploring other options for adaptive reuse."

Though plans are still in the works, the push to find another purpose for the building 

"I'll just say that I'm thrilled to learn that GSU's study shows that the building is viable for adaptive reuse of some kind, and that they no longer have current plans for demolition,"