Atlanta to tackle blighted Constitution building

Invest Atlanta is looking for developers to revive the Art Moderne-style Atlanta Constitution building in downtown Atlanta. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

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Invest Atlanta is looking for developers to revive the Art Moderne-style Atlanta Constitution building in downtown Atlanta. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The city of Atlanta is hoping to breathe new life into a forlorn downtown building that has been labeled one of the area’s biggest eyesores.

Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, is seeking developers interested in turning around the Atlanta Constitution building at 143 Alabama Street. The organization said Wednesday it has issued a "Request for Proposal" or RFP in search of a buyer for the 95,000-square-foot building.

“This is a very strategically located building that could house a signature adaptive reuse project and be a major catalyst for further development in the South Downtown neighborhood,” Eloisa Klementich, Invest Atlanta president and CEO, said in a release. “It’s an ideal opportunity to create a thriving commercial anchor for the community and preserve a unique architectural treasure.”

The building, which the city bought in 1995, was home to the Atlanta Constitution until 1953 when the paper merged with the Atlanta Journal and moved to accommodate its bigger staff. Georgia Power later operated out of the building, but closed its offices in the early 1970s.

Since then the Art Moderne-style building has sat abandoned. Trees have grown on its roof and windows have been boarded up, bricked over or punched out and the homeless have used it as an encampment.

In Septemeber, downtown business development group Central Atlanta Progress named it to its list of Top 10 "development opportunities," blighted buildings and properties in need of help.

Invest Atlanta is looking for developers who will renovate the building and lease about 35,000-square-feet back to the Atlanta Office of Buildings for city use and another 2,000-square-feet at street level for the city’s planning office. But the organization also will take proposals from developers who will renovate it with other uses in mind.

When asked if there have been other attempts to renovate the property, Mayor Kasim Reed’s office said his focus has been on stabilizing the city’s finances and that he could not speak about what may have been done by previous administrations.

“Downtown Atlanta is experiencing a resurgence, and the south downtown neighborhood specifically is experiencing a transformation,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “These conditions make now the right time to move the property at 143 Alabama to market, and the city is excited about the possibilities for best-in-class adaptive reuse projects.”