A group of Atlanta architects is speaking out against the proposed Buckhead City.
More than 25 architects, many of whom are fellows with the American Institute of Architects (its highest membership honor), signed a statement, saying that “Atlanta should remain undivided.” The letter says that Buckhead City would be a major setback for Atlanta and Georgia, citing impacts to its public school system, tax base and future development.
“I think it’s an issue that directly speaks to the design community, because we are the people who do the buildings and create the city,” said Stanley Daniels, principal of the former architectural firm Jova/Daniels/Busby Inc., known for projects including the original Colony Square in Midtown. “The move for secession would be damaging to the city and ultimately the region.”
The list of architects also includes Thomas Ventulett, one of the founders of Tvsdesign; Niles Bolton, chairman and CEO of Niles Bolton & Associates; and Preston Stevens, chairman emeritus of Stevens & Wilkinson.
The signatures represent architects who have worked on landmark Atlanta projects including the Woodruff Arts Center, CNN Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Ebenezer Baptist Church and Underground Atlanta, according to Daniels. They’ve also contributed to the built environment in Buckhead, working on Pace Academy, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church and Lenox Towers.
The letter delves into potential impacts of secession, including the “loss of the highly favorable bond interest ratings that undergird the city and the state’s ability to expand and develop.” It also says the “community stability that is a major factor in the choice of corporations and individuals to move to Atlanta will be badly damaged.”
Read the full letter below.
In response, cityhood leader Bill White, CEO and chairman of the Buckhead City Committee, said that “for every architect that might be against it, I would imagine there are 10 for it.”
The architects’ letter follows a similar letter from some of Atlanta’s biggest real estate companies last week. In that letter, 32 businesses asked state legislators to table the Buckhead City proposal, or otherwise, exclude the commercial district of Buckhead from the borders of the potential new city. The companies said collectively they represent $4.7 billion worth of real estate in Buckhead and roughly $57 million in annual property taxes.
White said his group was busy crafting its own letters to the Georgia General Assembly.
“We have hundreds of Buckhead voters, people who actually live and vote in Buckhead, writing letters to all of our legislators,” he said. “So next week, we are delivering over 2,500 letters.”
Buckhead City proponents are hoping to get legislation passed at the Georgia General Assembly that would place a referendum on the November 2022 ballot, which would allow Buckhead residents to vote on whether to form a new city. So far, two bills, one in the Senate and another in the House, are still sitting in committee.