Old Fourth Ward Our Sister Neighborhood Across the Tracks

Old Fourth WardWyatt 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,

Wigwam Apartments before restoration by Judi Knight.

Wigwam and two other buildings I created.

Wigwam after restoration along with two other buildings built by Judi Knight.

Indian on the Wigwam

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 before renovation.

 

Lotta Frutta after 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.

Party Hardy on Edgewood Avenue

catapault to greatnessBack 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.

mizoWhen 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.

Thumbs Up Edgewood Night SpotsStroll on down the street towards town to Pizza Versuvius great pizza. Stroll towards the bathroom and push the bookshelf to gain entrance to The Speakeasy for a cozy atmosphere and  excellent drinks.

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.

Inman Park Neighborhood Theaters

One of the most fun theaters is just down the street from the Urban Oasis. If you want to laugh, check out Dad’s Garage.

Dad’s Garage is proud to be celebrating its 16th season in Inman Park! Dad’s Garage is committed to elevating awareness of the arts through ensemble driven improvisational comedy and original theatrical works. In addition to producing a full theatrical series and year round award-winning comedy improv, Dad’s Garage also offers classes, children’s programming and a High School Outreach Program. 280 Elizabeth Street, Suite C-101. 404-523-3141. http://dadsgarage.com

 

One of my favorite places to see great live theater is the Horizon. We are lucky to have this theater in the neighborhood consistently putting out a wide range of offerings throughout the year. I try to catch them all.

Horizon is a professional contemporary theatre now in its 28th season of connecting Atlantans with the best and brightest new plays with intelligence, humor, hope and heart. Horizon’s goal is to connect people to each other, their communities and the world through stories that are entertaining, thought provoking, positive and relevant to Atlantans today. Horizon offers education and outreach through our Young Playwrights program and Senior Citizens Ensemble. Euclid & Austin Aves., (404) 584-7450www.horizontheatre.com

If you like theater that is more edgy and provocative then 7 Stages and Synchronicity may be up your alley. These don’t tend to be feel good shows, but will definitely make you think.

7 Stages is one of Atlanta’s oldest and most well known international theaters. Their mission is to engage artists and audiences by producing new plays that respond to the social, political, and spiritual concerns of contemporary culture. Under the guidance of co-founders Del Hamilton and Faye Allen, 7 Stages continues to be a leader in international artistic collaboration, allowing 7 Stages to become an ambassador for Atlanta through recent artistic exchanges with Berlin, France, Germany, Holland and Mexico. 1105 Euclid Avenue. 404-523-7647, www.7stages.org

 

“Unsettles our hearts and opens our minds as only the best theatre can do.” – Atlanta City Council. Now in its 12th season, the company was founded in 1997 and is currently led by co-founder and Producing Artistic Director Rachel May. Synchronicity has been known for producing smart, edgy work by women playwrights, exuberant musicals for kids and families, developing new work and connecting to the community through outreach programs like Playmaking for Girls – with teen girls in the juvenile justice system. With a focus on women and community building, Synchronicity tells stories that connect you to Atlanta’s diverse communities, the world and your own imagination. Synchronicity is in residence at 7 Stages Theatre. Synchronicity Theatre 1105 Euclid Avenue – 404-523-1009 or www.synchrotheatre.com