New development puts squeeze on Atlanta bathhouse

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Nevermind the development surge sterilizing the quirk off Cheshire Bridge Road and threatening the strip's gay bars and businesses. A new project in Midtown will envelop a popular gay bathhouse.

A proposed 19-story project on a 1.7-acre site is in the planning stages for the corner of Spring and 4th streets. It will sit to the east of Flex, a sprawling facility that fronts 4th Street next to the Downtown Connector. 

Named the Standard (bottom image), the project from Landmark Properties and Selig Enterprises will offer 280 residential units for Georgia Tech students, more than 11,000-square-feet of street-level commercial space and a 10-story parking deck. Project boosters presented plans to the Midtown Development Review Committee on March 8, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The project could break ground this summer, with the first units delivering around summer 2018.

Among its amenities, the tower would feature a fitness center, study rooms, gaming lounge and bike lockers. It would also have outdoor terraces, balconies and a pool.

The Standard would join a host of new development clustered around Tech Square, a project Georgia Tech launched more than a decade ago. The area is quickly emerging as one of the nation’s fastest-growing innovation districts, known for its blend of established companies and startups centered around a university.

The Midtown Alliance offered additional details on the Standard:

The Standard is the proposed mixed-use student housing development by Landmark Properties and Selig Enterprises on the southwest corner of Spring Street and 4th Street. The 19-story project includes 280 furnished residential units for students and 11,200 SF of commercial space at the street-level. Parking is provided in a 10-story precast parking deck that is wrapped with residential units on the street-fronting façades. The Development Review Committee challenged the applicant to rethink the vehicular circulation associated with the Starbucks in order to remove the curb cut on Spring Street. Removing this curb cut achieves multiple objectives that are fundamental to the Blueprint Master Plan: it will maintain the integrity of the pedestrian environment, allow for more retail space and on-street parking, and afford more opportunities to add usable open space at the street level (the current proposal reaches 90% of usable open space required by Midtown’s zoning code).

Additionally, the committee asked for further study of the ground floor façades, with an emphasis on increased transparency around the leasing office on Spring Street and more activity and visual interest within the bike storage area on 4th Street. Bike maintenance facilities are necessary amenities in student housing developments and the committee encouraged the applicant to feature this space more prominently in the design by incorporating wall-mounted bike parking and bike repair equipment. The applicant will make a follow-up presentation at a subsequent DRC meeting to provide this information. 

The parcels assembled for the project don't include Flex, which encompasses two buildings across an alley behind the proposed development. The four parcels that are home to Flex are owned by Fourth Street Properties and CGC General Agency, both businesses based in Cleveland, Ohio, according to property records. Flex is part of a company that bills itself as a gay men's social club with sister locations in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Phoenix. The company is based in Cleveland. 

Chris Fletcher, an associate with Landmark, told Project Q Atlanta that the project will not impact Flex. An official with Flex declined to comment for this story.

The new project crowding Flex is similar to what's playing out on Cheshire Bridge Road, which was the subject of a controversial effort in 2013 to push sex businesses off the strip. Since that fight, new development has put the squeeze on a trio of bars on Cheshire while more projects continue to come. One sexy business catering to LGBT customers has fluffed and buffed itself, while a gay doctor has rehabbed another building as he expands his practice.

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