Gay landmark to fall for condos (2005)

Backstreet, a disco that hosted the likes of Cher and Farrah Fawcett-Majors and was a landmark in metro Atlanta’s gay history, will fall under the wrecking ball and be replaced by at least one, and maybe two, 40-story condo towers.

Developer Jim Borders, who is building condo high-rises from Buckhead to downtown Atlanta, plans to build the two condo skyscrapers in phases along Peachtree Street between Sixth and Seventh streets.

The first tower would open in 2007 and a second tower, if demand holds, would follow later, said Robin Loudermilk, president of furniture rental company Aaron Rents and a partner in the project.

"We have been developing residential communities in south Midtown since 1995, and this is simply the continuation of that activity," Borders said in a statement Thursday. "The development of this block is a key next step in this neighborhood’s transformation into one of the premier urban environments in the Southeast."

Backstreet, a nightclub famous for its 24-hour cocktails and R- rated drag show, was a center of gay life in Atlanta for 30 years. It closed last summer after a dispute with the city over its business license.

Even when Backstreet was open, developers coveted the site for its Peachtree address and its prime location in the heart of a resurgent Midtown.

In recent years developers have surrounded the club with new projects. Borders’ company, Novare Group, with Loudermilk and other partners, built a 29-story tower with 388 condos just across the street. That building, calledSpire, will open later this year.

Borders’ first high-rise project, the 500-unit Metropolis, opened a few blocks down Peachtree in 2002.

Metro Atlanta is enjoying its hottest condo market since Backstreet’s 1970s heyday. More than 16,000 units sold here last year, up 30 percent over two years ago.

A number of those units have been in Midtown, the once-shabby district around Piedmont Park.

Developers like Novare, Trammell Crow ResidentialCousins Properties and Daniel Corp. (a partner with Magic Johnson) are building large residential projects at key sites around the neighborhood.

Spire sold out in three to four months,” Loudermilk said. “There’s a lot of demand out there.”

Credit: Woods, WalterThe Atlanta Journal - Constitution [Atlanta, Ga] 24 June 2005: F.1.