Heck House, Scottdale arts center, closed due to code noncompliance

DeKalb County shuts down events until center satisfies requirements

The offbeat arts center Heck House has postponed all its July events until it comes into compliance with DeKalb County commercial and residential codes.

According to communications from the county’s code enforcement office, the center lacks a business license, and requires inspections before it can be determined that it is “safe for any type of assembly.”

On June 30 Novelle wrote on the Heck House Facebook page, “Because the attendance at most of our events only average 20-40 people, we attempted to find out if we could have private events as a private residence and be in compliance. Last night (June 29) via emails, the Deputy Director of DeKalb County Code Compliance basically gave us a hard no.”

Credit: Ricky Zero

Credit: Ricky Zero

Heck House is a repurposed residential structure that Novelle and her business partner, Zed Yu, have turned into a performance space/gallery/special event venue. The indoor and outdoor space is decorated with fanciful folk art and repurposed items salvaged from junk yards. (An outdoor dining area includes a table fashioned from a 12-foot piece of a lane from a bowling alley.)

The organization, which has nonprofit status, began holding events there in November 2019, but the tempo picked up during the spring and summer of 2021, when the facility offered multiple events each week.

Heck House has hosted numerous concerts, gallery shows, a wedding, a religious retreat, standup comedy, a puppet show for children and a burlesque revue.

ExploreHeck House has offered heck of a lot of funky music and art

Located in Scottdale, between an auto salvage shop and a tattoo parlor, the facility is on busy Ponce De Leon, at the edge of a residential area and surrounded by commercial development.

An email from Rachel L. Bragg, a zoning administrator with DeKalb County, seemed to indicate that the area was zoned correctly for special events, gallery openings, theater and musical performances, but only after it had met inspections and secured the proper licensing.

Those inspections have yet to take place.

The venue cannot host “any events until the application process is complete and approved by DeKalb County,” wrote Timothy C. Hardy of DeKalb County Code Compliance, according to emails provided by Novelle.

Heck House must also meet off-street parking requirements, which may prove difficult.

The application process will not be quick. “I do think it may take a few months or more,” wrote Novelle “and why I am not rescheduling any events.”

She added, “We have talked to P&S (Planning and Sustainability) services, but they haven’t started processing the application yet. (We emailed yesterday asking for an update and was told there is a backlog.)”

Among the July events that have been postponed are a storytelling open mic, several rock concerts and a “Doodles ‘n Tunes” event that invites guest to make art while musicians perform.