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The rehabilitation of the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Sweet Auburn will be supported by $1.5 million from the Eastside Tax Allocation District Community Empowerment Fund, the Invest Atlanta Board of Directors determined in their meeting on Thursday.
The grant will support a $10.15 million, inside and out redevelopment of the approximately 80-year-old building at 330 Auburn Ave., which in its history has held organization’s like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the WERD Radio Station. Expected to finish in August, the rehabilitation will turn the building into a 16,000-square-foot multi-use space.
Plans are for the basement and first floor to be leased and operated by the National Park Service as an exhibit of the former offices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The first floor had been serving as commercial space for the Madam C.J. Walker Beauty School Museum as well as a barbershop, and plans indicate those two establishments will remain in the building.
The 5,000-square-foot second floor will mostly be occupied as below-market-rate space for small businesses and nonprofits. The masons still owning the building will lease part of the second floor and all of the 5,000-square-foot third floor for organizational activities, plans show.
Along with the TAD grant, other financing sources include a $1 million dollar grant from Bank of America, about $1.1 million in federal Historic Tax Credit Equity, $2.1 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit equity, and $350,000 in philanthropic funds, along with $1.4 million in owner’s equity.
In addition to interior work, the project, which is scheduled to start in April, will also entail rehabbing the building’s storefronts and creating ADA accessibility, among other improvements to the historic structure’s exterior.