Grant Henry and Eric Goldstein saw it coming. Co-owners of a retail and office space at 489 Edgewood Avenue, in Old Fourth Ward, the two men watched on Tuesday as decades-old bricks began to shift at the building’s corner unit, which, until October, had housed the iconic Sound Table music venue. Heavy machinery at construction sites next door, at the intersection of Edgewood Avenue and Boulevard, seemed to be shaking loose the side of the former concert hall. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, the western wall at the circa-1909 building collapsed.
“I would have thought a bus had gone by. That’s what it sounded like,” says Goldstein, who was working in a design studio at their spot when the unit down the block began to crumble. “But we knew because we had been watching the building. We knew how volatile that corner was.”
Now, the fate of the unit best known for Sound Table is uncertain, according to Tim Keane, the City of Atlanta’s planning department chief. A construction crew had just begun site work for a four-story mixed-use complex that promised restaurants, retail, and residences that would replace the former parking where Edgewood meets Boulevard. But as soon as Keane got the call about an aging building that appeared to be on the cusp of cracking open, his office issued a stop-work order for the corner site, as well as the plot to the south where larger mixed-use project Waldo’s Old Fourth Ward is coming together.
It’s not entirely clear who’s at fault for the collapse. The crew working for Charlotte-based developer the Whitaker Group was chewing up the corner parcel with a backhoe, and the team working on Waldo’s, Henry says, was hammering away at their site with some sort of heavy drill. But Keane says the Whitaker Group’s contractor leapt to remedy the issue, and is working on a plan to secure the building that could be ready as soon as Thursday. “We are compelling the contractor to as quickly as humanly possible get us a plan to make this situation safe,” he says.
In fact, Keane adds, the crew working at the corner site was well-underway with a plan to shore up the building soon after the wall began to crack and shift. The collapse forced them to change course. Now, Keane says, it’s “too soon to say” if the old Sound Table building will remain standing or need to be razed, although his department hopes it can be saved. As for who might have to pay for repairs, Keane says, “Who’s on the hook for it is between [the building owner and the contractor].”
Henry, who also owns Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium, catty-corner to the carnage, said much of the Edgewood Avenue bar strip’s success is owed to Sound Table, which opened in 2010, when the nightlife was far from what it is today.
Henry was bartending at the Local, he says, when a friend told him that he should open up a bar near Sound Table. “The kids want to be on Edgewood; they don’t want to be on Ponce [de Leon] anymore,” the friend told him. Now, the street is dotted with nightlife attractions.
The construction mishap isn’t just a blow to the community’s nightlife legacy; it also sets back the plans for the opening of a new bar and restaurant called Edgewood Dynasty, which was slated to debut in the old Sound Table location this week, Eater Atlanta reported.
Some other neighboring businesses, such as Edgewood Pizza and the new Slutty Vegan, have been forced to shutter while crews work to remedy the issue, and city officials expect to have a clearer picture of when Edgewood Avenue could be back to normal later this week.