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Architect Shares Ideas For Repurposed Atlanta City Detention Center

Atlanta hopes to turn the under-used Atlanta City Detention Center into a place that focuses on training, health and crime prevention. 
Atlanta hopes to turn the under-used Atlanta City Detention Center into a place that focuses on training, health and crime prevention. 
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

The brick and concrete that make up the Atlanta City Detention Center’s facade spans 17-stories and contains 471,000 sq. ft. of space — twice as much as the nearby state capitol.

Its architect in 1993 described the building‘s four-and-a-half inch slits of windows as being “pleasing as seen from the adjacent highway system, surface roads, as well as from the pedestrian street level and not readily recognizable as used.”

The City of Atlanta sent its last mortgage payment for the detention center in 2017. Principle and interest combine, it totaled nearly $125-million.

A year later, conversation turned to closing the facility. And, just a few months ago, the city did just that.

Now, the question of what to do with the facility is bring out a smorgasbord of voices.

“When I got out and I heard about them trying to close down ACDC, I said, ‘No. I want to be a part of that. I want to tell my story,'” Yussif Abubakar said recently at a meeting on the building’s future.  Abubakar, a former detainee, was just one of many voices echoing the call for the city to do something good with the former detention center.

So where do things stand now, and what does an architect say the building could be used for?  Recently, WABE’s Jim Burress spoke with reporter Emil Moffatt about it.