A development proposal that would have remade a block of Little Five Points and infused the quirky, colorful district with denser housing—at the expense of a landmark dive bar and live music venue’s current location—is no more.
Third & Urban, an Atlanta commercial real estate firm known for creatively using old spaces around the city, has nixed plans to transform a 2.5-acre site where Moreland and Euclid avenues meet in Little Five Points, as Saporta Report first relayed last month. The development concept called for bulldozing the building that’s housed Star Bar for decades, to the chagrin of many patrons and fans.
Third & Urban leadership has now shed light on why the firm decided to back out in an interview with Atlanta Business Chronicle—but they aren’t ruling out being part of a potential redevelopment of the L5P area in question in the future. The developer put the properties under contract in June but pulled the plug last month, during a due diligence period, when a “myriad of factors” were found to be working against it, Third & Urban cofounder Hank Farmer told the newspaper.
Backlash against Third & Urban’s plans for wiping the slate clean where Star Bar operates—even though the bar would have been invited back to take a basement space in a new building—was an impediment, said Farmer. The outcry against the proposal ran contrary to the firm’s goal of creating interesting urban places supported by communities.
Other issues included rising interest rates that had changed the outlook on the project’s financial viability, as U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes continue, the ABC reported.
A Change.org petition—“Save the Star Bar Atlanta”—tallied just shy of 8,000 signatures.
Not everyone involved considers the axed development a victory. Little 5 Points Community Improvement District executive director Lauren Welsh told the ABC the decision will cost the district a significant investment that could have brought more weekday activity that L5P currently lacks.
As revealed in September, Third & Urban had partnered with a company of six local families operating under the name Point Center Partners to own and remake the site.
The property’s centerpiece is the circa-1925 Point Center building—the largest in the neighborhood—where businesses such as Abbadabba's, Bear and Honey Candle, and Native American Handcrafts Art Jewelry operate today, with offices above.
Specific plans were never released. But the redevelopment generally called for preserving the Point Center building and replacing parking lots and smaller, underused spaces around it with a mix of greenspace and housing, to include “attainably priced micro units and walk-up apartments that engage the street.” Shared parking for current and future tenants would have been mostly hidden underground, and the cost of parking would be “unbundled from apartment rents so that residents have the option to live without the costs associated with car ownership,” according to an announcement provided to Urbanize Atlanta.
Star Bar’s current confines would have been demolished for a new three-story building with a basement space for the bar, two ground-floor restaurants, and community-oriented office space overhead.
Third & Urban’s recent projects include Common Ground, home to New Realm Brewing Co. on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, and the forthcoming Westside Paper.
Founded in 1991, Star Bar is synonymous with loud, live music, cheap drinks, and comedy showcases, with personality to match its L5P setting. It last closed in 2019, but reopened under new ownership in May last year, and has now signed a lease with landlords to remain open for at least another year.
The bar’s ownership told the ABC an alcohol license is in the works for 2023, and that bands, comedians, and a couple of basement artist markets are on the calendar. According to one co-owner, Star Bar’s rents will be higher next year but will remain affordable. Point Center Partners has taken the property off the market and plans to soon begin discussions about what to do with it long-term.
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