Similarly, when the Atlanta Lyric Theater severed its ties with the Earl Smith Strand, the city fathers went berserk at the thought of the revenue lost to the downtown businesses. They even went so far as to experiment (with our money) with shuttling patrons by bus from downtown to the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, then back to the Square. It went over like a screen door on a submarine.
At present, the building known as Theatre in the Square is housing two theater groups that are producing eight to 10 shows per year and drawing about 200 people a week into downtown Marietta to shop at the stores and eat at the restaurants there.
But it seems the city fathers are determined to disrupt this facility because of a perceived problem with the structure, which is said to extend 18 inches onto city property in two places due to an addition to the building.
The city is demanding owner Philip Goldstein sign an agreement stating that, in the event of injury due to the structure, the city will not be liable. I don’t think a structural engineer designs a structure that is likely to cause injury. I can appreciate the desire to protect the city, but this issue should have been resolved, permanently, before the construction. Theatre in the Square has been closed for over two years. Why is this problem just now a “hot button” issue?
I spent most of my life in construction, so I know that (1) said addition to the building was not built without a building permit. (2) A building permit for alterations to a commercial building requires the submission of a complete set of building documents, which include architectural drawings, structural drawings (sealed by a registered structural engineer) and complete specifications. (3) These documents are supposed to go through a comprehensive and complete review by the building department before the permit is issued. (4) During construction, the project is subject to numerous inspections by the building department.
Evidently the building department did not do its due diligence before issuing the permit or it issued it knowing about the encroachment. If it was issued contingent upon an agreement of liability, then it should never have been issued. Commercial properties change hands frequently and it would be a given that at some point a new owner would balk at signing it.
Such is the case now, when demands are being made on Goldstein, long after the fact. To my mind, the city is the owner of this fiasco.
Mayor Steve Tumlin says he wants to work it out amicably, but he is, simultaneously, brandishing a big stick, stating the city can demolish the addition, by a court order. Given the apparent lack of diligence by the city originally, that might be easier said than done.
Members of the city council, namely Grif Chalfant, are using this issue to bring into play their personal gripes about the theater. Based on what I can ascertain from Chalfant’s published comments he is voicing an opinion which has no basis in fact, as probably are the rest of the gripes. Mayor Tumlin should tell them to shut up.
Earlier, a blogger brought up the issue of liability for injury caused by the tables and chairs belonging to the Marietta Pizza Company, which sit on city sidewalks, 24/7. They pose a greater risk of injuring someone than a structure. Does the city have such an agreement with the Marietta Pizza Company?
If anyone is looking for a simple permanent solution to this issue, then cede or sell the two 18-inch “tracts” to Goldstein. The city is forever freed of liability, Goldstein’s building can remain intact and the two theater companies can continue to perform and attract visitors to the Square.
On the other hand, if this is what it appears to be, an excuse to punish Goldstein for past “sins,” then Tumlin and the council are not interested in simple solutions.
Time will tell.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.