Judge Hears Arguments In Case Over Historic Music Studio

Demolition of a historic building is shown on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. The building is the site where the first country hit song is believed to have been recorded.

Ron Harris / Associated Press

A Fulton County judge heard arguments Thursday in a case involving the proposed demolition of a downtown Atlanta building where the first country music hit was recorded in 1923.

The preservation group Historic Atlanta Inc. is suing the city saying it didn’t allow enough public input when it made an agreement with the hotel developer to clear a strip of buildings near Centennial Olympic Park in order to build a Margaritaville-themed hotel.

The city says it followed procedure when it made the settlement agreement.

The South Carolina-based developer argues Historic Atlanta doesn’t own the property, therefore has no standing in the case.

Last month a court issued a stop-work order to halt ongoing demolition of the buildings, including the old studio at 152 Nassau St.

It was revealed in court Thursday that the developer hired an engineering firm to evaluate the demolition that had been done so far. That firm said the buildings were unstable and needed to be razed immediately.

Historic Atlanta has argued the “historic” part of the building remains intact and can still be preserved.

Fulton Superior Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams appeared to agree with preservationists on that point, saying the buildings were not unstable otherwise they “wouldn’t be standing”.

Judge Adams on Thursday allowed the developer to join the city as a defendant but has not ruled yet on whether Historic Atlanta has the right to sue.

The stop work order remains pending the judge’s decision.