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A permit has been filed with the City of Atlanta to demolish the nearly 100-year-old Highland Inn & Ballroom Lounge building, at 644 North Highland Avenue NE. The firm hired to expedite the demolition filing confirmed its authenticity with What Now Atlanta Friday saying approval has been delayed due to the historic nature of the building.
It’s unclear why property owners are looking to demolish the four-story structure or what might be built it its place. Calls and emails to the Inn Friday went unanswered.
In March 2020, the Poncey-Highland neighborhood where the Highland Inn is located voted to create the Poncey-Highland Historic District. Highland Inn owner Thomas Carmichael, who also owns the North High Ridge Apartments, urged his tenants to vote against the plan, according to Curbed Atlanta. He warned that a historic district would raise rent and complicate building maintenance.
“[Carmichael] has worked very, very hard to keep his rents low and affordable, and that’s obviously a hot-button issue right now,” David Metzger, an attorney for Carmichael, told Curbed. “A historic district would make it more costly to do business.”
The plan proposed by the neighborhood had several changes that differentiate itself with traditional historic districts. For one, it allows upper-story additions to historic commercial and residential properties as long as they keep within the aesthetic of the community. However, modern additions are allowed towards the rear of the building.
These plans have been in talks since 2019 when a group of residents started the historic districting process to push against “uncontrolled development,” as the AJC reported. Back then, Carmichael was still against the plans.
“I want [the zoning] open-ended because we don’t know what the future holds,” Carmichael told the AJC. However, at the time, a resident told the AJC that his concern extends beyond Carmichael, saying “I’m not afraid of Carmichael’s development. I’m afraid of who he might sell to.”
This story is developing.