Historic Sweet Auburn YMCA to become live music venue

 Mural of Congressman John Lewis on Auburn Avenue. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM.

Mural of Congressman John Lewis on Auburn Avenue. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM.

A former YMCA in a historic downtown neighborhood could be transformed into a live music venue.

The exterior of the Butler Street YMCA. AJC Staff photo by W.A. BRIDGES JR.

The exterior of the Butler Street YMCA. AJC Staff photo by W.A. BRIDGES JR.

The former 1920s Butler Street YMCA could become the Sweet Auburn Ballroom through a partnership between Live Nation, the national music company that owns The Tabernacle and organizes Music Midtown, and the Butler Street Community Development Corporation.

Sweet Auburn Ballroom is scheduled to open in January 2018, according to WABE. The 1,200-person live music venue will be located at 17 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive. If everything goes according to plan, renovations on the now vacant property will begin in March or April.

The project is the first to benefit from the million-dollar Resurgens Fund Grant, which provides gap funding for real estate projects. Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, announced that it was seeking applications for projects seeking tax increment financing in the Eastside Tax Allocation District earlier this year.

The Eastside TAD was established in 2003, “allowing the city to rebuild its Downtown by attracting new private investment and improving local streetscapes and making Atlanta a more enjoyable place to live, work and play,” according to Invest Atlanta.

Eastside TAD includes Sweet Auburn, Old Fourth Ward and parts of Grant Park and Cabbagetown.

Plans for Sweet Auburn Ballroom is one of several recent attempts to revitalize the neighborhood. According to AJC’s Gracie Bonds Staples, Fortune magazine named Sweet Auburn “the richest Negro street in the world” in 1956.


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