Atlanta Out Loud

Politics and rantings and just stuff that catches my attention.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

|| 11:16:28 PM
And... We're back...

After a week in New York, followed by some ugly e-mail and DSL problems, we're back! Apologies for the hiatus...

It All Makes Sense Now

The current race for Atlanta's nightlife elite to take over Underground Atlanta seems just a little too convenient. I'm usually opposed to most conspiracy theories, but isn't this all just perfect from the standpoint of the city?

The City owns Underground Atlanta, and thereby loses about $6 million per year servicing the bonds for the failed project. This will be the third, and perhaps final, attempt at a renaissance for what was always supposed to be the hub of the city's nightlife. During the last resucitation attempt, the City convinced the State of Georgia to designate Underground as a "Special Entertainment District," giving it leeway in adopting alcohol laws different from anyplace else in the state. As a result, the bars and restaurants located at Underground can serve alcohol until 4am and there is no open container restrictions. Those measures were intended to give Underground a raucous, "Mardi Gras"-like atmosphere to bolster Atlanta's struggling downtown.

It didn't work.

So, now Underground is all of a sudden the place to be for long-time Buckhead establishments like Mako's, Tongue and Groove, and psuedo-gay bars like the Chamber, Masquerade and Loco Luna. Going to Underground after dark is a life-threatening experience.

I am not convinced that Council Member H. Lamar Willis, who is the biggest backer of these moves, didn't have this all planned from the beginning. And, probably several other Councilmembers realized what could happen when they called and early lights out for the rest of the City. Perhaps we're giving them too much credit for brillance here, but it seems to me to be evidence of a ulterior motive to prop up a failing has-been sore spot of the city.

And in a city like ours, where everything is racially motivated, this seems to fit the bill just fine. Why wouldn't our City Council Members want to move the economic engine of the city out of the elite white neighborhoods of Buckhead and into the afro-centric areas of downtown?

The black members of the Council were very cleaver about this and they deserve kudows for the manuvering. They almost across the board allowed Mary Norwood to take this fight on alone.... how could a white woman from Buckhead be called a racist for wanting to clean up a white neighborhood? Then, once the dust settled, folks like H. Lamar Willis moved in for the kill to make sure that the black folks in this town took full advantage of an onscure loophole giving their neighborhoods an upper hand. Nice job, Mr. Willis.

From the AJC...

"It's a little weird, a little fishy," said Asa Fain, owner of the jazz/neo-soul spot Apache Cafe in Midtown. "The government is punishing those who have earned success and forcing success on those who have not, meaning Underground Atlanta. What does that say to the real competitive business owners?" (But he's not ruling out opening a place at Underground himself.)

More bluntly, Midtown's Halo Lounge co-owner Allen Godfrey says this move is all about Buckhead forces trying to get rid of the party scene there. "It's a matter of using political ties to screw people that have made the city a great place for people to enjoy themselves," he said. "I'm sick to my stomach."

Michael Chueh, a promoter for Buckhead club SPF-15, said this is clearly a way to encourage club owners to abandon Buckhead. "It's a scam," he said. "Who wants to go to Underground? I don't. I think these clubs are going to lose a lot of money."

So now we've chased the partiers out of Buckhead because of the dangerous activity, shootings, and drunk driving. It now apparently makes perfect sense to plop all that down in the middle of one of the most crime-ridden areas or the city. The panhandlers must be loving this!

An AJC reader's comment in Thursday's Vent: "Moving late-night bars to Underground Atlanta is a great idea. Stray bullets won't travel as far."



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