All those fools crowded into that noisy expensive Krog Street Market don’t know what they are missing at Serpas right around the corner. This perfectly cooked porkchop, on a bed a grits with braised greens hit the mark. Yum.
Back in the day, when Duane and I got married, I had no idea what to get him for Christmas. Guys can be really hard to buy for. I decided he might like a robot collection so each year I buy a vintage style robot. This year, I loved this one. I am partial to the girls.
Very excited to get our new Flor Carpeting at the Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast. Soothing blues.
My new Eames Shell Chairs are now assembled! They look just like the photoshopped pic I did. I love it when what is in my mind is manifested so precisely. With this much color in my place, I have to be careful adding to it.
I found a turtle in my garden this morning. I think that must be a sign of good luck. It really is an Urban Oasis.
Most bed and breakfasts are not in lofts. And most lofts don’t have gardens. At the Urban Oasis we do things a little different. Here are a few shots of the loft gardens on a morning in early June.
Wyatt Williams wrote a really nice article chronicling the evolution of the the Historic Old Fourth Wards neighborhood from deserted drug land to becoming revitalized as one of the best neighborhoods in Atlanta and certainly the coolest night spot in town. It is all about the role my friends, City Councilman, Kwanza Hall, Grant Henry, owner of Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living room and Ping Pong Emporium and early on Joe Stewardson, neighborhood pioneer had a vision of what could be and stuck with it.
The corner of Edgewood Avenue and Boulevard in Old Fourth Ward might be one of Atlanta’s most striking neighborhood changes in recent years. Today, residents from Sweet Auburn, Old Fourth Ward, and beyond convene on this corner for nighttime drinking, dancing, and a growing number of restaurants aside the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District. The New York Times has published glowing portraits of the neighborhood. Home prices are booming and a streetcar connecting the area to Downtown attractions and hotels will start operating this summer. Read more.
I was also part of the revitalization with my effort to save the Historic Wigwam Apartments. I received an Atlanta Urban Design Award as well as the Ga. Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2004 for keeping the Deco forties look and feel while converting this boarded up, crackhouse into condominiums.
Wigwam Apartments before restoration by Judi Knight.
Wigwam after restoration along with two other buildings built by Judi Knight.
Indian on the Wigwam Building, which is how the building got its name.
I also purchased the property next to the wigwam and restored a burned out duplex in the same footprint and style of the previous building. Later, on the empty lot between the Wigwam and the duplex, I designed and built the Wigwam Annex in the same style as the Wigwam, but with a more modern look. I created the three buildings as a condominium with 12 units. They share a parking lot behind the buildings and a courtyard area with a pond and a built in barbecue grill.
While I was doing those projects, a little boarded up neighborhood grocery located right across the street came on the market. I ended up buying it and making it into a sandwich shop with an apartment above. For the past seven or eight years it has been a neighborhood favorite called, Lotta Frutta.
Lotta Frutta before renovation.
Lotta Frutta after renovation.
For a while, that corner was a hub of building activity and since I owned property on both sides of the street, I felt like I was playing Monopoly and people needed to pass go and pay me $200. I was glad to do my part in helping with the revitalization of the Old Fourth Ward. There are plenty of people who buy properties and hold them waiting for the neighborhood to turn and property values to rise. But, if everyone does that then the neighborhood does not improve and no one wins. It takes people like Joe and like me who see a vision of what a place could be and start doing their part. Build it and they will come. And then people like Grant come in and make the place move and shake. Yay us. Yay Old Fourth Ward.
Back in the day, Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward was well, rather edgy. Now it is the place to go out.
My friend, Grant Henry’s bar, Sister Loiusa’s “Church” of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium is the Soul of the street. Grant has his irreverent religious art everywhere. You could stay three weeks and still see something new. The Spiritual Sangria is divine unless you are in the mood for a PBR and some goldfish. It is a great place to go early and hang out with neighborhood friends and then the suburb hipsters and movie stars some on in later in the evening but the thing is you can’t move.
When you get a little hungry and goldfish won’t take the edge off, you can go next door to the Corner Tavern for your regular bar food, or you can go down the street to have some napolotana wood fired pizza at Ammazza.Past Amazza at the end of Edgewood that is blocked off for the bridge repair, there is a create Japanese restaurant, Miso Izakaya
The Game Room can be a lot of fun but if you want to listen to music and do some dancing, you could try the Sound Table, located catercorner to “Church”.
One of my favorite places on Edgewood is Noni’s an Italian Bar and Deli. It has a great vibe and good eats. After ten they have great DJs spinning tunes and some dancing going on.
If you stay out really late you can catch one of the best breakfasts at Thumbs Up. From Catfish to Waffles, Thumbs Up has what you need. One of my favorites is called the heap. I like it with vegis, fried potatoes and you can get eggs and meat on it to. It is true comfort food.
People are always interested in the history of our warehouse building and how the Urban Oasis came to be. The building originally constructed in 1950 as a cotton sorting warehouse on the railroad line that separated Atlanta’s first suburb, Inman Park from The Old Fourth Ward, Martin Luther King’s boyhood neighborhood located on the other side of the tracks and a bit further West, from Downtown Atlanta, which is actually only a mile away.
The railroad tracks ran behind the building with a spurline coming down off the main tracks, where the trains were able to pull up right to a concrete loading dock to unload cotton to be sorted into different grades and then sent off again to be made into various items from cloth to mops.
In 1998, I had a software company that needed to move to a larger location. I wanted to find a space to create a fun open environment and was looking at areas close in to my home which at the time was in the Druid Hills neighborhood. After looking at many buildings, my realtor called me to tell me that he had found out about a building that was about to be listed. He set up and appointment and told me to come and bring my checkbook since he knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. I took one look around and handed the agent a check for the escrow payment. It didn’t look like much at the time. But I had a vision of what could be done and it was perfect, located in the railroad corridor surrounding Inman Park with its diverse residences from Victorian homes to Shotguns.
By the time we actually made the purchase, my ex-husband and decided in order to renovate the entire building we would need the funds from the sale of our French Country style home on Oakdale Road, a beautiful tree lined street. Our plan included created a loft space for ourselves and our two children ages ten and twelve, to live in, at the rear of the building on Krog Street. This necessitated the rezoning of the building from Heavy Industrial to C-1 which allowed for the possibility of live/work units in the building. I then created a condominium in order to subdivide and sell additional units in the building which we were able to complete by bootstrapping the sales in order to have the funds to complete the entire renovation of the building.
Originally, the front of the building had a dark, completely paneled fifties style office with a separate open space with hardwood floors above that had been used for sorting fine grades of cotton. The rest of this 18,000 sq foot building was an open, clear span warehouse with concrete floors and a beautiful dark wood ceiling that was thirty feet high in the center of the bowed roof. The roof was held up by the beams and girders which eliminated the need for any other vertical supports. The kids used the space for roller blading before we finished the build out.
The first order of business after environmental studies allowed up to complete the sale, was to convert the old office into a 3,000 sq foot office for our software company with a contemporary design that included several rooms for offices, a break room and open work spaces for our team collaboration. And simultaneously, we converted the large unit above the front office into a great loft where we lived for the year I spent designing and building what is now our loft unit at the rear of the building. I had friends who had a growing graphic design company who had agreed to buy the unit that served as our temporary home, when our new space was ready to move into.
In order to renovate the rest of the building to include our space which we concentrated on first, we knocked out the crumbling cement block walls and as we built the units we replaced the old block with new exterior walls with well-insulated, double thermal, commercial windows. We were able to keep the exposed wood ceilings by replacing the existing roof adding a layer of 3″ ISO insulation before re-roofing the entire building. It took a year to design and build our home.
Once we got moved in, and got settled into our loft, I went on to develop the area between our loft and the two units at the front, into four more live/work condos. When my kids grew up and left home, Duane and I decided that our 6,000 sq ft happy space was built with love and needed to be shared to keep the love flowing, so we started a bed and breakfast with our three extra rooms and baths.
Since then development in the Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward has boomed. While, the residential part of Inman Park has been upscale and beautiful for many years, the railroad corridor was still sketchy with its steelyards and abandoned buildings.
I was the first to do an adaptive reuse development of a building on Krog Street. Then Jeannie Wooster converted the Atlanta Stove Works into an office building development anchored by a restaurant. Kevin Rathbun, then built his first restaurant in the Stoveworks and after she developed the 154 Krog building, he put his steakhouse in that one, right next door to us. The popularity of his restaurants put Krog Street on the map.
When bought my building in 1998, I knew that someday there would have to be a rails to trails type of thing on the abandoned railroad tracks behind us. Unbeknownst to me, that same year, an architecture student, Ryan Gravel was doing his Master’s Thesis at Ga Tech with an idea of connecting all of the old railroad lines that circled the city, into one 22 mile system of trails.
Ten years later, the first segment of the Atlanta Beltline was completed starting right behind our building and going to Piedmont Park. The Atlanta Beltline has been wildly popular and has encouraged growth and development in the neighboring hoods.
Here are a few more of the before and after photos.
And here is a PDF from an article from Atlanta Magazine from back in the day around 2001.