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Coming Along

19 Mar

Imperial Hotel renovation

The extensive renovation of the 103-year-old Imperial Hotel at Peachtree Street and Ivan Allen Boulevard is scheduled to be completed later this year. The building was converted to low-income housing in the mid-90s after sitting vacant for about decade and was purchased by Columbia Residential and National Church Residences in early 2011 when it was in danger of foreclosure.


It was here somewhere…

7 Jan

Faded crosswalk at Ralph McGill and Courtland

Believe it or not, those blotches of white paint in the foreground used to be a crosswalk. Over the last three years it’s slowly disappeared, reducing the chances that cars will stop for pedestrians here from “not that great” to “yeah, right.”

It’s in a “channelized” or separated right turn lane at the intersection of Ralph McGill Boulevard and Courtland Street, where cars making the right turn from Courtland are often speeding. If the light is red drivers generally slow down just enough to check for cars approaching from the east on Ralph McGill. If the light is green they’ll sometimes even speed up as they make the turn so they can beat pedestrians to the crosswalk rather than yield.

Faded crosswalks, missing curb ramps, broken or blocked sidewalks and other dangerous conditions can be reported to the City of Atlanta’s Department of Public Works with the pedestrian hazard reporting tool at PEDS.

You should receive an email with a confirmation number within a day and the requested repairs are generally supposed to be completed within 30 days.  This M.I.A. crosswalk was reported on January 3, so we’ll see how long it takes for it to reappear.

Did you know…

15 Nov
Southbound traffic on I75/85 passes under Civic Center Station

A window at Civic Center Station looks out onto the traffic passing underneath the station platform. The reflection in the center of the photo is one of the station's white-tiled columns.

that Civic Center Station is the only subway station in the world suspended over a highway?

Never a dull moment

1 Oct

The day started out normally enough. But within a couple of hours, streets were blocked, police were everywhere, helicopters were circling and at least 30 people were screaming on the sidewalk.

There’s nothing like an awards show to liven up the neighborhood.

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The BET Hip Hop Awards were filmed at the Atlanta Civic Center today, to be broadcast on Oct. 11. Good news for hotel and restaurant owners, limousine rental companies and ticket scalpers. Not so good for people who ride the route 16 bus or who needed to drive – or even walk – through the intersection of Ralph McGill and Piedmont, Piedmont and Harris, or Courtland and Ralph McGill.

The street closings were originally scheduled to be from noon to 11 p.m., but as of right now, the limos have mostly disappeared, the screaming fans have dispersed and regular traffic flow has been re-established.

Peachtree-Pine Shelter: The Big Picture

6 Jun

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To catch up on the protracted legal tussle over the Peachtree and Pine Street shelter run by Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, read this piece published in last month’s ABA Journal.

It’s long, but it’s light on legal jargon and free of the axe-grinding that tends to creep into anything written about the facility and its management.

Green means “Go”

28 Mar

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The paper is off the windows, the art is up, the furniture is in and the lights are on at Scene Cafe.

These photos were taken Friday night, just after 11:00.  It looks vastly different from just a couple of weekends ago, when I stopped in and talked to the owner, Samuel, while he was working inside. He said that the work stoppage during the summer was because of a death in the family and that the place was just a few weeks from being ready to open.

When I remarked that the building’s yards of glass had stayed improbably intact during his absence he said that people in the neighborhood knew his father – who owned the store that once occupied the building that is now Scene Cafe – and  “looked out for the place.”

Maybe ruin and wreckage aren’t the rule on Pine Street after all.

Unexpected Company

25 Mar


Before “Jack and Diane” and “Runnin’ on Empty” came thundering from across the street well before sunrise last Sunday, I’d mostly forgotten about the Georgia Marathon.

The music was soon accompanied by a voice with that simultaneously enthusiastic and professional quality cultivated by announcers at big athletic events.

Turns out that the first water station for the race was in front of the Civic Center, which placed it just across from my building.

After about an hour of one-sided banter from the announcer accompanied by more Top 40 hits of the 80s, the first wheelchair racers came flying down the hill along with race volunteers on bikes. Several minutes behind them came the lone leading runner, pursued by several tiny packs of others.

Then the groups of runners got bigger and bigger until they were deep enough and wide enough to fill the block.

Then it was time to go back to sleep.

Signs of life at Scene Cafe

28 Feb
Lights on at Scene Cafe

Work has resumed at Scene Cafe, after abruptly stopping during the summer

The paper covering the windows was back up when I went by tonight, but for the last few weekends, there’s been work going on inside the building that’s eventually to become Scene Cafe (assuming the name hasn’t changed along with the opening date). A November 2010 opening was originally planned for the restaurant/lounge, but the construction workers disappeared mid-summer and the project languished, half-built, until a few weeks ago.

The project appears to have taken a turn into DIY territory, as the only cars to be seen on the lot while work is going on are regular vehicles, no commercial trucks or contractor’s vans. The crescent-shaped window upstairs still doesn’t have glass, but it’s been covered with plywood, and the exterior ground-level area is kept lit at night now. The construction debris container has been taken away, brought back and taken away again.

The brown paper that’s usually over the lower windows was down Saturday night and the downstairs interior was emanating a green glow. It was hard to tell from the outside whether the color was produced by light fixtures or something on the walls. A drink cooler and bakery case could be seen inside about a week ago.

The next time I pass by while people are working inside I’ll get an update on the new projected opening date and find out whether the concept and name will be the same.

Coming in March: Phoenix Flies tours

23 Feb

Cross-posted with Metblogs:

Phoenix Flies logo

Phoenix Flies logo by APC

The Atlanta Preservation Center’s seventh annual Phoenix Flies tours will run March 5 to March 20 this year.

Phoenix Flies, which APC describes as “city-wide celebration of Atlanta’s vibrant living landmarks,” features tours of historic landmark buildings and neighborhoods all over the city.

I’ve been meaning to take the “Unseen Underground” tour for years, and I’ll admit to not being sure where Castleberry Hill even is, so I probably ought to get to that one too.

Most appear to be walking tours, but there’s also an approximately three-hour, 10-mile bicycle tour of downtown historic districts on March 5. All the events are free, but some require reservations.

Have you taken any of the Phoenix Flies tours? What did you think?

Return of the Bread Breaker

18 Feb

Some time last July slices of bread started appearing on the sidewalk at the corner of Courtland and Ralph McGill. Never an entire loaf, but never just one or two slices either. It was usually four to seven slices of bread, usually white, some of it torn into smaller pieces. It appeared some time between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Perhaps whoever was putting the bread there intended to feed the pigeons that sit surveying the neighborhood from the streetlights on the opposite side of the street or flying in a loose formation near the Imperial Hotel. But, for whatever reason, neither the pigeons nor any other birds seem much interested in the bread. Other than the single pigeon I saw take a couple of desultory pecks at one of the sodden, greenish slices that had been lying there for a few days, then shake its head violently and quickly walk away, I’ve never even seen birds on the sidewalk on this side of the intersection.

But again and again the bread would appear, not at any regular intervals. Sometimes twice in 72 hours, sometimes only once a week or less. It would lie there night and day, sun and rain, getting  sniffed and stepped on by dogs. Then, it would disappear, presumably put into the trash. Then, some time in September or October, no more bread.

Until today.

The unseasonably warm weather seems to have ignited a renewal of the Bread Breaker’s inscrutable generosity.

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But, why now? If the person’s intention was to feed the birds, why not do it while it was cold and icy, when they might have a harder time finding food? Also, why are the birds indifferent to food on the ground on this side of the street, while on the other side of Courtland, there’s always a flapping, fluttering scrum at even the suggestion of anything edible?

Is this a one-off, or is the season of handfuls of stale baked goods strewn on the ground upon us again already?

We’ll see.

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