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Gene Kansas has an affinity for adaptive-reuse projects, especially those on imperiled Auburn Avenue, the heart of a district famously dubbed Sweet Auburn when it was thriving during the first half of the 20th century. Kansas knows how fragile community and history can be, having seen his hometown literally underwater.
Black in Blue: Atlanta’s first African American police officers were vanguards of the civil rights movement
Mayor William Hartsfield and Police Chief Herbert Jenkins, both white, stood before Atlanta’s first eight African American police officers as they prepared for active duty. Hartsfield gave a rallying speech, warning that though 95 percent of the white cops didn’t want them, they were here to do what Jackie Robinson had done for baseball the year before.
Our fair city’s romance with the wrecking ball and bulldozer is well documented. So it seemed like cause for huzzahs when the Atlanta Urban Design Commission denied a request to demolish the Auburn Avenue building that once was home to the Atlanta Daily World, the country’s first black-owned daily paper. The Integral Group — a developer with a track record of working on urban projects, including the redevelopment of Grady Homes — planned to preserve the World’s facade and replace its guts with new apartments, affordably priced and presumably appealing to Georgia State University students. Critics said saving the façade wasn’t enough, and more than 1,100 people signed a petition protesting Integral and GSU (never mind that the school wasn’t formally associated with the project).