MHA officials hoping Lyman Homes’ successor is ‘A Real Knockout’
by Bill Kinney and Joe Kirby - Around Town Columnists
December 04, 2012 12:41 AM | 3910 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE OLD LYMAN HOMES public housing site just northeast of downtown Marietta is about to be a big step closer to its next incarnation as “Montgomery Park.”

The Marietta Public Housing Authority issued a Request For Proposals last month. Friday is the deadline for responses. The goal? Convert the now vacant and cleared 10.25-acre site with 44 single-family detached homes, according to MPHA executive director Ray Buday.

“We want something special, something that will be ‘a real knockout,’” he said.

“What we’d like to come up with is like what was originally proposed for the Meeting Park development, but less complicated,” said Buday. Meeting Park was proposed by Winter Homes for the old Clay Homes site just east of downtown. But Winter and the project went belly-up during the recent recession after just 15 townhomes were built. It since has been purchased by Walton Communities, he said.

THE AUTHORITY — sadder but wiser, you might say — isn’t using a sealed-bid process on the Lyman site.

“If we get somebody that we’re not familiar and they highball the price, but we don’t have the confidence they’ll give us a really, really nice development, we might take someone we have lot more confidence in, and maybe make not as much money, just to be sure we get the outcome we want,” he said.

The city has already approved the site plan for the Montgomery Street development, but the council will still have to approve the elevations, that is, the “3-D appearance” of what’s proposed, as Buday puts it. But the Authority has placed no restriction on the price of the houses it hopes are proposed.

“If they want to build million-dollar houses, that’s fine,” Buday said.

THE 125-UNIT LYMAN HOMES project was built in 1951 for residents of “Baptist Town,” which was one of the city’s historic black neighborhoods and one of its most run down. Lyman was demolished in June 2007 after its residents were gradually moved into Section 8 housing.

The Lyman/Montgomery site straddles Cole and Hunt streets just south of the North Marietta Parkway.

The Authority has been gradually demolishing most of its public housing neighborhoods, then selling the acreage for redevelopment. The money from those sales is then used by the Authority to construct or upgrade its housing for senior citizens.

“We’re really excited about it,” Buday said about the Montgomery site. “We waited a long time because of market. But then we started getting expressions of interest. Then we got another and another. We want to get some money out of it so we can take it and use somewhere else, so we’re optimistic. And Lord knows the community needs some nice single-family detached houses.”

MARIETTA-BORN actor Shuler Hensley’s star turn in the hit play “The Whale” at the Playwrights Horizons theater on 42nd Street in NYC was named “Stage Performance of the Year” by New York Magazine in its “The Year in Culture 2012” year-end wrap-up.

Writes the magazine: “So many of 2012’s finest acting turns were wired into ensembles (the squabbling families of and Tribes, the combatant couples of Virginia Woolf), but Shuler Hensley — literal centerpiece of Samuel D. Hunter’s stealthily surreal heart-burster The Whale — really is an island: a 600-pound isle of flesh. Inside a suffocating fat suit like his, an actor’s every movement counts; it’s like giving birth. Making this guy more than a stunt, and moving him beyond the merely literal, takes something approaching genius. Hensley’s Charlie — an online English-composition tutor steadily eating himself to death in an Idaho edge city — is both a compendium of insatiable American emptiness and an utterly honest, entirely non-bathetic hero. That’s no small thing.”

Hensley, son of Sam and late Iris Hensley of Marietta (who was founder of what is now The Georgia Ballet), earlier won a Tony Award for his performance in the revival of the musical “Oklahoma!” and has appeared in numerous plays and movies, including an appearance as Frankenstein’s Monster in the Broadway production of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.”

KISS AND MAKE UP? Well, not exactly. But members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will perform with the Walton and Lassiter High Schools’ choruses early next year at Lassiter’s new auditorium. You’ll recall that Symphony officials — apparently more interested in performers’ skin tones than the quality of their voices — notified the two schools in August that even though they’d been performing jointly with the Symphony for four years, their choruses were “not diverse enough.”

As a result, a third group from an Atlanta high school would be invited to take part in the Symphony’s high-profile holiday concerts next month, they said. There would not be room enough on stage for all three groups, and thus only a few singers from the two Cobb schools could come, they added.

Walton and Lassiter officials, to their credit, told the Symphony to to jump in a lake — or something like that.

But individual members of the 93-person Orchestra were quick to express sympathy with the disenfranchised students from Cobb, and as a result will be performing with the two choruses at Lassiter on Feb. 19.

“As of now it is set at the new auditorium being built at Lassiter High,” said Joel Dallow, who plays cello with the Orchestra in an email to the MDJ. “The exact time and the repertoire to be performed have yet to be determined. I expect it will start between 7:30 and 8 p.m., though.”

AND YOU THOUGHT the presidential election was over? Not! Georgia Presidential Electors – i.e., Electoral College members — will gather at noon Dec. 17 at the state Capitol to officially cast their ballots for president and vice president.

Among the 16 Republican Electors are Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart of east Cobb and Toria Morgan of west Cobb, as well as former Gov. Sonny Perdue. The 16 Democrat Electors include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, but no one from Cobb. The 16 Libertarian Electors include Marietta School Board member Brett Bittner, Crystal Gross of Marietta and educator David Shock of Kennesaw.

THE COBB GOP will hold its Christmas holiday reception from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at its headquarters, 799 Roswell St., Marietta, across from Roswell Street Baptist Church. Cost is $20 per person.

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