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Can neighborhoods and nightclubs coexist in Atlanta?

Vision nightclub in Midtown in 2006, just before it closed. Its owners, Alex and Michael Gidewon, want to open a new club on Peachtree Street. Neighbors oppose it. AJC file photo

What does it mean to have fun in Midtown? What should it mean?

Can neighborhoods and nightclubs coexist?

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A story on the front page of the AJC last weekend described two perspectives so different, it’s hard to believe we’re talking about the same neighborhood.

The first: a $4 million nightclub unlike anything else in the city — “Video screens on the ceiling. Marble-top bar counters. A state-of-the-art fog system.” — a more mature version of a few years ago, when the blocks between 10th and 14th street were filled with high-profile clubs.

The second: a dense residential neighborhood with new condos, offices and restaurants. Families, young professionals, retirees. New, but comfortable. Busy, but quiet.

The first comes with crime and noise, some argue. Other say the second option cuts off the once-popular Midtown club scene, and keeps Atlanta from being anything special.

A plan for a new nightclub along Peachtree Street is turning this disagreement into a fight about what’s best for Atlanta’s most famous street — daily life, or an active nightlife. I wonder, is there anything in between?

From the story published August 29, “Peachtree Street nightclub plan faces fight”:

Opponents say this part of Peachtree is now residential and believe a nightclub will bring fights, shootings and rowdy folk playing loud music from their cars as they cruise along Peachtree Street.

That does not fit with the neighborhood motif, they say, although most condo buildings on Peachtree Street are several blocks south of the proposed site.

“It has no purpose [on Peachtree Street],” area resident and architect Shraddha Sriviastan said during a Midtown Neighbors’ Association license and permit committee meeting Monday. “This is not going to help the development [of Midtown].”

The Gidewons [the club owners] and their supporters counter that Atlanta, particularly this area, needs their brand of refined nightlife. They haven’t figured out what they’re going to call the venues.

“This is going to be a high-end destination,” said Q100 radio personality Jeff Dauler, who’s gotten a peek inside the buildings. “It is a venue appropriate for Peachtree Street … It makes you feel you’ve been somewhere special.”

Here’s an earlier story, too, “Neighbors don’t want a new Vision nightclub.”

Does Atlanta needs more late-night entertainment, and why? Is Midtown the right place for it, or is there a better location? How can neighborhoods and nightlife coexist?

Remember, this is a blog about fun things to do in Atlanta, not a blog about politics or race. Keep your comments focused and respectful. This is obviously a hot topic among some Atlantans, so let’s push the conversation forward.

28 comments Add your comment

Midtown Resident

August 31st, 2009
10:24 pm

As a resident living on Peachtree, I’m in favor of a nightclub(s) in Midtown. Just NOT on Peachtree and NOT by this owner. First, the SPI Club capacity is 1300+. There are only 250 designated parking spots. There will be hundreds of cars simply seeking a place to park. Local residential parking will certainly effected. Second, SPI Club will hire 10 off duty police officers. Only 2 of them will keep traffic on Peachtree moving in front of the club. Imagine if 2 officers tried to move traffic on Peachtree in Buckhead at midnight a few years ago. Thirdly, SPI Club has no clear plan to clean up garbage in the area. Just a few years ago when Vision was running, the NPU-E made frequent requests to Vision to address all of the signage and fliers in area generated by the club. These and many other requests by the NPU-E were simply ignored.

I don’t think that anyone is naive to think that Gidewon won’t get his liquor license. He spent $4M to build out a nightclub without any community input (nor some building permits) before he even received a liquor license. His own website shows pictures of him and his family with Mayor Franklin and Kasim Reed. Clearly he’s not dumb enough to build $4M club and just hoping to get a liquor license. This is the only time to have him agree to some simple neighborhood standards before he resumes his history of ignoring the NPU and the midtown residents.

Find out more and why the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance and hundreds of other residents are concerned…


August 31st, 2009
9:41 pm

Neighborhoods evolve. Midtown has evolved from a party-filled, somewhat gritty area into a higher end, classier area. The entertainment needs to transition with the neighborhood, not the other way around. We’re the ones paying the bills. And don’t come back with the sales tax revenue. Property tax from high density residential blows that number away.

Leigh had it right. We’re not objecting to clubs that cater to patrons that do their thing and leave. Vision’s history has shown us who they’re targeting– people who leave the club, thump-thump their music, urinate in the street, and cruise around. Seriously– if you paid an enormous amount of money for a house, would you want that in your front yard?


August 31st, 2009
9:35 pm

I was in Midtown long before Velvet, Cotton, Vision, the clubs on Crescent, or the yuppies. Trust me – the yuppies are far better. The only people in Midtown that this is good for are the Gidewons and landlord John Dewberry. Take the party, noise, traffic, beatings and shootings somewhere else … please.

jerry gardner

August 31st, 2009
9:33 pm

A “high end destination” is only as high-end as its patrons, and a drunk is a drunk. And none of them care about marble counters.
Am I the only one here who remembers the Buckhead bar scene of 10 years ago when residents could not even leave their houses because of the traffic and the noise? A murder every Sunday morning at 2am? Why won’t this happen again in Midtown?


August 31st, 2009
9:28 pm

How classy can this joint be if the clientele will have to be frisked at the doorway for weapons? I’m sure NeNe and her gal pals from the real housewives of the ATL will feel right at home here.


August 31st, 2009
9:23 pm

Long before any of the guys who want to operate this megaclub were born, Peachtree Street had horse stables. Horses are frightened by loud music. If someone wants to bring back horse stables to Peachtree, can they demand all the clubs shutdown because stables were there first? Vision closed and went away and condos moved in. Now they want to move back in and dictate the character of the neighborhood.

Most cities put megaclubs like these in light industrial areas so they don’t bother anyone. Cities evolve over time. Only boring old people whose best days have passed them by pull out the “it was so much more fun when I was younger” card. Backstreet is gone. Kaya is gone. Vision is gone. If they want to reopen, there area hundreds of places they can do so where they won’t bother anyone. You’ll get use to the new locations… or perhaps not since they’ll now be populated with young whipper snappers who are flexible enough to adjust when things change rather than insist everything remain just like it use to be.

Do note that no one is opposing smaller bars and lounges. The opposition is to the hyped up megaclubs that pull in people from all over the metro who don’t want to have their own neighborhoods treated this way. If the Gidewon brothers just must have a location in Midtown, they need to make it appropriately scaled to the area. Mixed residential and commercial is not the place for huge megaclubs. Industrial areas and abandoned shopping centers in strictly commercial areas are.


August 31st, 2009
9:10 pm

The clubs were here before the yuppies moved “intown.” I would much rather go back to the days of Backstreet and Kaya than have most of these new residents of Atlanta here.

If they didn’t like the nightclubs, they shouldn’t have moved into the neighborhoods with nightclubs. It’s just another form of gentrification.


August 31st, 2009
8:36 pm

Rick Day, wouldn’t full disclosure be you telling everyone that you ***OPERATE*** a Midtown club (activity center, goth bar, alternative liftstyle venue or whatever you want to call it)? Your views can hardly be consider objective since you chose to open a business in the area in question.


August 31st, 2009
7:57 pm

I lived across from the last vision. I’m ok with clubs. I used to live on Crescent with all the clubs. The difference between the clubs on Crescent (with the exception being Opera as they had a shooting there) and Vision is the shootings that happened associated with vision patrons- and the boom boom cars oh and the public urination, trash, screeching harpies hanging out in the parking lot after the club closed. I can see the clubs close down on Crescent from my balcony. They close down clubs clear out and people go home. With Vision the clubs closed down people went and lolly gagged in the parking lot and turned on their bass – then they cruised around the block a few times to impress the “ladies” with said bass.

Midtown is not the place for this club as they’ve already shown they cannot control their patrons. Put this club in Underground where it belongs. Maybe a 4 million dollar club would entice people to actually go to Underground.

Rick Day

August 31st, 2009
4:15 pm

Conventions book fun places. International draws do not roll up the sidewalks at 3AM. Without more night life, Atlanta is as exciting a draw as Dallas, or St Louis or Topeka. Everything was fine with the 4AM closing, until a few bad apples spoiled it, compounded by the fumbled attempted monopoly of night life that was created with the disaster known as Underground.

Midtown is the PERFECT place, IF an entertainment district is firmly established in the commercial area. Residents: You should be remained that YOU are the intruders into the commercial zone. If you want peace and quiet move to the suburbs, where the zoning forbids night clubs. Do not move next to the airport, and expect everyone to keep YOUR interpretation of ‘peace and quiet’. That complaining residents live in a box with 1000 other people suggests you don’t REALLY care about ‘noise’.

DISCLOSURE: I reside within the SPI-16 commercial zone, 150 feet from an all-night “club”, on one of the busiest streets in Midtown Atlanta, and have just learned to DEAL with the noise.