Letter to Mayor's Agent for Historic Preservation in Support of Kenesaw-Renaissance Residents
January 27, 2022
I am writing in strong support of H.P.A. No. 21-219, and urge the Mayor’s Agent to approve this application without delay. The Renaissance Condo Association and the Kenesaw-Phoenix cooperative have provided clear evidence of unreasonable economic hardship as well as evidence of significant preservation benefits that clearly outweigh any harms. On these grounds, I urge the reversal of the Historic Preservation Review Board’s September, 2021 action.
I worked with Council colleagues to expeditiously pass the Targeted Historic Preservation Assistance Temporary Amendment Act of 2021, legislation largely motivated by the need to support the residents at the Kenesaw-Renaissance building. While this bill corrects an inequity in historic preservation funds typically reserved for single-family homeowners and can assist Kenesaw-Renaissance residents, it alone will not meet the need – costs of balcony remediation need to be reduced.
If residents of the Kenesaw-Renaissance Building – themselves an embodied and living historical record – are placed into financial hardship or fully displaced in the name of historic preservation, then we have entirely lost the thread of preservation and historical memory. We cannot treat historic preservation as an indifferent and objective overseer, all while this community’s actual living history slips through our fingers.
In this same historic district, houses on Park Road and Lamont Street used to be large boarding houses and group homes, many of which have been flipped to single-family residences worth upwards of $2 million. I will not stand by and see the same thing happen to this multifamily property on an even larger scale.
This building is one of the first hard-won TOPA successes and remains a novel mixed-use cooperative and condo building that has stood the test of time. With or without its ornamental balconies it will remain an architectural landmark as well as a social one. HPRB’s determination that the three visually obscured balconies did not need to be restored is to me an even greater insult – it directly implies that the visual enjoyment of passers-by is more important to us than the building’s residents.
Special merit should be given to the preservation of the history imbued in the cooperative and its residents. The history of this building includes a major change in use – from an isolated (and exclusive) luxury apartment building standing alone on a hill to a mixed-use, mixed-income cooperative that acts as a keystone of a dense and diverse community. It stands to reason that such a building should be allowed to reflect the entire arc of its own history, not just the aesthetic preferences of its initial construction.
I urge you to reverse HPRB’s decision and support this application.
Brianne K. Nadeau
Councilmember, Ward 1