City Hires Outside Lawyers to Handle Midtown Building Fight

Oct 31, 2012

The legal battle over the future of Midtown’s historic “Crum & Forster” Building continues Thursday, and it will go on without representation from the City of Atlanta Law Dept.    

[For a primer on how the case got to this point, the Atlanta Preservation Center has a 1,250-word synopsis here.]

The Georgia Tech Foundation owns the building and wants to demolish most of the structure for parking.

Credit Midtown Patch

But historic preservationists argue tearing down the Spring Street building violates city ordinance.

The latest twist pits the City against its own Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).  Since the law dept. is charged with representing both entities, Deputy City Attorney Eric Richardson says the City hired outside council.   

“We want to make sure both the City, and the BZA as an entity, were fully represented," Richardson says. 

WABE has confirmed Simon Bloom of  Atlanta law firm Bloom Sugarman Evertt will represent the City. 

R. Kyle Williams of Williams Teusink will represent the BZA. 

As far as how much all that will cost, City Attorney Cathy Hampton tells WABE she doesn’t know because it's anyone's guess how long the case will continue.

(In the botched 2008 raid on the Atlanta Eagle,  a Midtown gay bar, outside attorneys charged the city upwards of $400 an hour.  That amounted to more than $1.2-million.)

So what's so exciting about Thursday's meeting?

Just before the case was to go before Fulton Superior Court in September, the City and the Ga Tech Foundation settled a lawsuit.  Part of the deal involved a Consent Order where the City essentially commanded the BZA to  grant a permit that could allow the building's demolition.

The question is whether the five-member BZA will follow the City's directive, or stand firm with city code (and its own earlier decisions.). 

Either way, the meeting promises to be anything but a standard zoning hearing.  

Location of Crum & Forster building (771 Spring St.)
Credit Google Maps