Since the 1890s, the Old Fourth Ward complex once known as DuPre Excelsior Mill has endured gritty industrial uses and three decades as iconic music venue The Masquerade, where lewd activities and raucous, wall-rattling, floor-trembling concerts were cherished pastimes.  

But a new level of structural challenges for the Atlanta landmark came just after Christmas in 2019, when a century-old wall that had been part of the Purgatory music room suddenly crumbled during the building’s conversion into offices.

Now, that disconcerting event—thought to have been caused by excavations near exterior walls, much to the chagrin of local historic preservationists—is but another chapter in the former excelsior mill’s colorful history.

The extent of damages during construction in 2019. Courtesy of Sean Keenan

Officials with developer Coro Realty Advisors say repair work has made significant progress recently, and the Masquerade’s conversion to the Mill, a hub of loft offices, is nearly tenant-ready.

“Interestingly, they left a distinct seam so you can see where the original wall was and where the repairs are, just for that historic context,” a Coro Realty rep wrote in an email to Urbanize Atlanta. “We were able to use a lot of the existing materials in the repairs. If you’ve driven past it recently, you know they’re still working on it."

Whenever “you have a historic renovation on a building like the Mill, there’s always more work to do than meets the eye,” the rep continued. “It’s getting there, but they have a ways to go.” 

The music venue's former North Avenue entrance. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Between its opening in 1988 and swansong blowout in the summer of 2016, the Masquerade became famous as a lovably scabby launchpad for future music-industry legends. Nirvana, OutKast, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Green Day, Bjork, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Ice Cube, Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails—they all graced stages here.  

Coro Realty’s plans call for about 30,000 square feet of office space, spread across two levels in two buildings, plus a lobby.

Next door, the North & Line apartment building’s deck will provide 108 spaces for office workers—when working from offices en masse resumes.

How stone and wood are meant to echo the industrial past. The Mill

The project, a partnership between Coro Realty and Southeastern Capital Companies, isn't the only intown office venture materializing in the era of COVID-19.   

Atlanta developers with property fronting the BeltLine—including Ackerman and Company in West End and New City Properties in Old Fourth Ward—are aggressively moving forward with investments in new office projects, despite the pandemic and a national workforce that’s largely been homebound for almost a year.

Have a look at the gallery above for recent exterior photos. And this short video shared last week by Robert Paul Fransen, Coro Realty’s president and managing partner, provides an interior glimpse of where things stand now. 

Maybe you’ll spot a place inside where you did something you’ll never tell the grandkids about.

• Fresh renderings: Where the biggest BeltLine development to date stands now (Urbanize Atlanta) 

Old Fourth Ward (Urbanize Atlanta)