A sad tale of urban “blight.” The landmark Atlantic Theater was left in disrepair for many years. Eventually co-opted by the New Direction Church, many historic details were damaged beyond repair. For years activists fought to restore this landmark but with the more affluent areas receiving the lion’s share of city finances the building’s restoration fell by the wayside. With many false promises of hope, followed by long periods of silence or denial as to the forthcoming demolition of the site, I received a flier “celebrating” tearing down this once historical landmark. The sad truth is, it didn’t have to end like this…the RDA was giving away money for revival but this project was scrapped in favor of the “new” library that had been promised for over 20 years by previous mayors and city council meetings. One that moved its location several times I might add. So we’re being assured that several elements of the previous building will be incorporated into the new design, mainly the tower…But if you see the photo I shot from below you’d see the significant damages there are to the building, the rust, termites and more. I predict it will be damaged beyond repair and not make it into the final new building much like the solar panel roof that did not make it onto the newly updated police substation in the next district over. Sad.
They tout the revival of “Northtown” but we’ll have to see if this is true. Often in our part of town ideas seem to be celebrated and repeated before they are nailed down with logical and practical plans. This lead to the mass purchasing/eminent domain of several properties along the corridors of the town and now as a result sit empty, as lots with white plastic fences. And yet the other parts of town that were also purchased have already seen new condos and other businesses. But here we are eight years later and still there sit empty lots where people’s homes and businesses used to be. Did we generate the same amount of tax revenue as the rest of the districts? No, but is it fair that this area is always referred to as blighted when the city refused to spend the money to end it?
I am skeptical, as always when it comes to what will or will not be done with our part of town. A woman at the event told me, “It just takes time for things to be done.” Interesting. When an idea is presented downtown it’s started and done within two years, but for this part of town 20-30 years. Our roads haven’t been paved since 1989, save for Atlantic Blvd, an obvious and noticeable street, and only just this past year were redone but as per usual are already marked up again as if they’re going to do construction and ruin them again. The fire station only just now has been finished and it started over 5 years ago. How is that fair?
In summary, I shake my head for the needless destruction of a building that could have been saved before it became a run down dive. It didn’t have to end up this way but then…neither did most of this area.