New apartments put squeeze on gay Atlanta bars

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A developer wants to wedge a five-story apartment complex between a triangle of popular gay bars on Cheshire Bridge Road, another step in the sterilization of the strip known for its gay nightlife and sexy parts.

The owners of a 2.4-acre parcel at the corner of Cheshire Bridge and Faulkner roads – the home of strip club Doll House and a vacant lot – are moving ahead with plans to build 200 apartments on the site. The firm, 2050 Cheshire Bridge Road, filed a rezoning application in June that's likely to get its first hearing before the city's Zoning Review Board in September, according to Curbed.

The application says the strip club isn't the best use of the lots. Via Curbed:

The property owner argues that existing uses “are not contributing in a positive manner to the environment” and that apartments would jibe with a 2004 study geared toward improving the corridor, according to a rezoning application filed by 2050 Cheshire Bridge Road LLC in June. A better use of the property, they contend, would be a multifamily development with about 200 units.

The development would fill the property that sits in the middle of a triangle of gay nightlife staples – Jungle, Heretic and BJ Roosters. Plans call for a parking deck at the rear of the property and directly in front of the dance club, as well as a leasing office along Faulkner where gay party-goers park and apartments to face Cheshire Bridge across from Heretic and BJ Roosters. 

The commercial building that houses Jungle is also home to other LGBT businesses – Manifest 4U and New Covenant Church of Atlanta. Two other gay businesses – Gravity Fitness and Eros – are located in a building next door.

The developers say their proposal will help “revitalize” the area, a controversial topic that fueled an effort in 2013 to push sexually-oriented businesses off the strip. That failed but redevelopment is doing what the city couldn't to the red light district.

A four-acre lot on Cheshire Bridge, closer to its intersection with I-85, is being razed to make way for a $48 million, five-story apartment building. On the top end of the strip, at Cheshire's intersection with Piedmont Avenue, is the remaking of the Rock Springs strip center into upscale shopping with residential units.

And in between, a gay doctor refurbished a long-vacant building, the Cheshire Motor Inn sorta cleaned itself up, and speculation persists about the future of the gay and gray popular Colonnade. Inserection – once the focus of the sterilization efforts – thumbed its nose at critics, renovated and rebranded.

Owners of the parcel in the middle of the gay triangle want to create a 24-hour presence but not the kind that Backstreet offered in the heyday of gay Atlanta nightlife. From the rezoning application, via Curbed:

“The proposal will have a beneficial impact on the neighborhood's character by replacing these uses with a more vibrant use and creating a 24-hourresidential presence on the site. The zoning will encourage redevelopment in the area to fill in the gaps between Buford Highway and Piedmont Road.”

Owners of the gay clubs say they are waiting to see what impact the proposed development may have on the area.

“We haven't had any additional information other than the article on Curbed. For now, we'll have to wait and see what happens,” says Jungle owner Richard Cherskov.

But Cherskov adds that the gay clubs facing redevelopment along the strip isn't new. 

“Do I think redevelopment is going to come to every stretch of Cheshire Bridge road? Absolutely. But will Atlanta nightlife react and respond to those changes? Yes,” he says.

We reached out to the owners of Heretic and BJ Roosters on Wednesday morning and will update the post if they respond.

[top image via Google Maps, second image via Curbed]



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