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New music venue backed by Imagine Festival duo, partner to open

The husband-and-wife team behind one of Georgia’s top music festivals joined forces with a veteran Buckhead nightclub owner to open a new music venue and restaurant. The facility is in a historic building that once was a church that hosted the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.

Glenn and Madeleine Goodhand partnered with Mahesh Harjani to open Believe Music Hall in May. The facility is located at the northwest corner of Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard and Central Avenue, just across I-75/I-85 from the new Georgia State Stadium and planned $300 million mixed-use development by Atlanta developer Carter & Associates.

The nearly 15,000-square-foot, three-story, Romanesque Revival and Renaissance Revival-style building, which most recently housed Museum Bar, is undergoing an approximately $2 million renovation to feature three event spaces including a mezzanine overlooking the main room stage, a basement-level “underground” stage highlighted by the building’s original rough-faced stone wall and two private VIP rooms, two outdoor terraces and a superfood restaurant.

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The venue currently has an almost 800-person capacity, but the Goodhands said the renovation will expand the occupancy.

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“The decor will create an inviting space that can transform from day to night,” Madeleine Goodhand said. “The open floor plan will allow for an abundance of plants and greenery that will breathe life into the space to create a modern and organic feel in a unique indoor/outdoor environment by combining rustic and natural design elements with modern furnishings and clean sightlines to the stages.”

Carter Director Jack Murphy, Iris Presents President and Imagine Festival co-founder Madeleine Goodhand, Iris Presents CEO and Imagine Festival co-founder Glenn Goodhand, Carter President and CEO Scott Taylor gather at 181 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., the home of Believe Music Hall. The venue will assist in the growth of a planned $300 million mixed-use development by Atlanta developer Carter & Associates. CONTRIBUTED BY PHIL W. HUDSON (For the AJC)

The Goodhands and Harjani are no strangers to Atlanta’s music and club scenes. In addition to founding and growing Imagine Festival into the region’s largest EDM camping festival, the Goodhands own and operate Iris Presents, which has hosted the weekly Saturday night event ESP 101 [Learn to Believe] at Rush Lounge in Buckhead since 2011 and other events around the city since 1995. Harjani also has plenty of experience in hospitality as a mainstay in the openings of Atlanta nightclubs Havana Club, Paradox and Frequency Nightclub, as well as House in Miami.

The building at 181 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. that some Mechanicsville residents still refer to as “The Corner” has a strong historical tie to the city. It was designed by Atlanta’s first member of the American Institute of Architects, Alexander Campbell Bruce, whose architectural firm Bruce and Everett also designed First Congregational Church on Courtland Street, according to the Urban Design Commission. It historically served as a church since St. John’s Methodist Church began construction in 1907. St. Stephens Missionary Baptist Church moved into the building in 1958 with the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. delivering the first evening service, according to the nonprofit Atlanta Preservation Center.

The St. Stephens congregation moved to East Point in 1989 and ultimately sold the building in 2008, but it had other uses along the way before the sale and the renovations that followed for later businesses at the site, including Museum Bar.

The location has a historical connection to the Goodhands. In 1995, the same year Glenn Goodhand launched Iris Presents, the building that was once known as “the mighty fortress of Mechanicsville” served as one of the first venues where he gave birth to his Iris events.

“It’s incredible how it all came full circle from when we first started some of our ESP 101 [Learn to Believe] events here more than 20 years ago,” Glenn Goodhand said. “First, we had to learn to believe, then we imagined, now we believe.”

Believe will host a soft opening on April 14 with headliner Crizzly and plans to host a grand opening in late May.

CONCERT PREVIEW

Soft opening of Believe Music Hall

Crizzly, Eddie Gold, Ployd, Teriyaki Noize and more to be announced. Doors at 10 p.m. April 14. General admission, $20/$25; VIP, $40. 181 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. IrisPresents.com.

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