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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

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.

Leigh

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.

Jason

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.

Beck

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.

Jason

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.

Pepper

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.

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?

Smallbusinessowner

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.

Kevin

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?

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…

http://www.midtownponce.org/news/index.html

Allen

August 31st, 2009
10:27 pm

Atlanta NEEDS this club . . . more than ever. People (read: conventions and those who plan them) go to cities where there is actually something to do . . . something unique . . . Atlanta once had this distinction with 24 hours clubs (something any city of 5 million people should have — this is not supposed to be Mayberry folks). I have friends from Alabama who used to come to Atlanta for a long weekend of entertainment in the South’s capital city who do not come here anymore because we roll up the sidewalks at 2 am. This is an economic decision. Fewer visitors means fewer hotel rooms, less taxes (gasoline, room, liquor); less business for taxi drivers, etc. It should not take a genius to figure out that more entertainment options means more revenue — for EVERYONE! I have lived in Atlanta for over 35 years and I have never seen the nightlife at such a low ebb.

In addition to conventioneers, there are singles; people who work as bartenders, waitresses, who need a place to go after work hours. WE have a young professional workforce that needs social outlets in the central city. People move into the city for the nightlife . . . not for the peace and quiet . . . for that, you can move to the mountains, or perhaps Dacula. Atlanta needs unique entertainment options. Right now, we really have none. For those who do not want to see these type clubs on Peachtree, move back to the suburbs, please. A city is defined by it’s nightlife. When you drive into Atlanta from Alabama on I-20 from Birmingham, for example, and see those bright lights of Atlanta skyscrapers it suggests a “happening place” and literally brings you to life with expectations. . . as it is now, you arrive and realize you are actually in Mayberry — everything is closed. This is not as it should be.

Perspective: I am a retired, professional, 62 year old white male.

ATLien

August 31st, 2009
10:30 pm

Well said Kevin. Could not agree more.

Reader

August 31st, 2009
10:32 pm

Don’t get mad. You made that choice to live in a major city. So you have to deal with the noise, the crowd, sometimes the crimes of an urban city. Name one major city that does not have those issues. I’m not saying it’s OKAY. `Name one city that doesn’t have clubs or theaters on it’s main thoroughfare or in the heart of the city.

Uncle Tom

August 31st, 2009
10:54 pm

What the “City” of Atlanta doesn’t need are more hulking condo or condo/hotel buildings. Aren’t there enough shadows looming over the streets during the day? To answer the question(s) at hand however, it seems to me there are enough clubs within the perimeter. And besides, why spend money on capital improvements on a building if you don’t own the building anyway?

Uncle Tom

August 31st, 2009
11:03 pm

Well, well, well. Thanks to “Pepper” and the snide remark about NeNe (of RHOA), it appears we have our very first color comment of the evening. Now I could say, “why does Midtown need another club that would be a happy hangout spot for the likes of Paris, Britney, or Lindsay,” but why should I?

Jamie Gumbrecht

August 31st, 2009
11:06 pm

Good discussion so far, folks. Thanks for keeping it respectful and offering up your answers and ideas!

esa

August 31st, 2009
11:10 pm

So if I understand the arguments for the club correctly, Atlanta needs this club because (1) economic growth comes from drunk people who stay out until 4 am and not people who sleep at night and go to work in the morning, (2) people from Alabama will drive to Atlanta attracted by the bright lights and be disappointed with the clubs we have now, and (3) an area dominated by homes and high rise office buildings such as Midtown Atlanta is not a live-work area but an all-night drunken party destination. Now I understand.

Smallbusinessowner

August 31st, 2009
11:37 pm

Dang folks – nobody thinks that there shouldn’t be mega-party, mega-clubs in Atlanta. 12th and Peachtree is just not the appropriate location. The serious taxpayers – homeowners, and small and large businesses have a huge investment in the quality of life in the neighborhood. Most of the patrons of this club (and the owners) won’t give a s**t about Midtown or the people that live and work there. There are a hundred other appropriate locations for this club.

Reality

September 1st, 2009
8:27 am

If this were another gay bar opening in Midtown there would be nothing said. Midtown residents know that gay bars don’t draw people who want to shoot each other, nor do gay bars attract people who want to hang out in parking lots and blast ghetto boom boxes and circle the block wanting to be seen trying to impress others with loud, loud, loud music rattling windows. Gays aren’t people who drive cars that have music arriving two blocks ahead of the car. Gay bars are welcome in Midtown, but hetro bars that attract certain elements are not. It’s just that simple. People, it’s not about how you look. It’s about how you behave. Peace!

Mystory

September 2nd, 2009
9:43 am

The moral of this story is You can’t please everybody. The Gidewons have owned the most popular club in Atlanta in Midtown before and people have complained, the Gidewons will AGAIN own the most popular club in Atlanta, and people will continue to complain. Meanwhile the people who welcomes the new establishment will enjoy it to the fullest so the other people who are unhapppy about it will just have to find a way to deal with the issues as they unfold. Bottom line, end of story. Congrats in advance to the brothers for yet another success, and thanks for all that you do in the community. I’m looking forward to the new venue ;-)

Beentheredonethat

September 2nd, 2009
11:31 am

I do not want this club to be opened in this location. I live on Peachtree in South Buckhead and do not want the cruisers from the burbs (b/c that’s usually who it is) driving up and down Peachtree in the middle of the night with their music blaring (don’t even get me started on the stupid motorcycles with no mufflers!). WE are paying the taxes to live there and deserve to be able to sleep at night.

Build your club…but build it some where else! We don’t want you in our neighborhood! Kevin was RIGHT ON!

YellowJackette

September 3rd, 2009
9:38 am

1) What does it matter what other cities have and do? Atlanta needs to do what is best for Atlanta and it’s citizens. Do you think those cities became what they are because they followed the same pattern?
2) For all those people who say “don’t move to midtown if you don’t want the noise” or “the clubs where there first”, forget that not all the people living in midtown or the condos that have gone up are as old as they are. I’m sure the residents who spent hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to move into midtown did so during the time when Vision or any other “mega-club” was not in business. As far as they are concerned, the noise, litter, and traffic were not what they paid for nor was it a foreseeable problem on such a scale. I, for one, moved into a condo within the last year a block far where SPI will be located and had no idea such a club was in the works. I moved there expecting the the loud sirens, occasional car honking, and human banter walking down the sidewalk. I expected noise… to a degree. I am not willing to give up the atmosphere I have paid for, learned to appreciate, and expect just because people who don’t pay the same taxes I do and who don’t appreciate the city I live in because they came from the ‘burbs want to come into my city to live a night of lower standards then they would expect in their own neighborhoods.
3) I agree that Atlanta needs a little more nightlife. As a “yuppie” as y’all so fondly refer to us as, I want to be able to go out and have fun with my friends. I just don’t want my “neighbor” to be the one throwing the party every weekend and most week nights. There are much better locations for this club. Why not DOWNTOWN? Nobody from out of town talks about visiting “Midtown Atlanta” anyways.
4) I also think this nightclub would be okay if the patrons actually kept to their standards that they want out of a club. A club cannot be high-end or “grown and sexy” unless the people going inside or waiting in line are. The club must also be concerned if they find a need to have metal-detectors at the doors. Unfortunatly that’s only good for inside the club. What about the people that get turned away? As previously stated, there will be 2 cops to help with traffic outside of the club. Well that’s only going to help the 250 people who are lucky enough to get a parking spot in the club’s lot. What about the guaranteed to be needed overflow lots? After looking over the materials presented to Midtown Neighbors’ Association Board of Directors, I noticed that there are people to help with the overflow street lot planned but no one is set up to help with the overflow parking deck. Not to mention, who is actually going to pay to park in that deck when there are free spots lining Piedmont and Juniper. I am very concerned by this fact and the fact that my window looks out at that overflow deck. Who is even going to be responsible for all those people going back to their cars?
5) I understand you can’t please everyone. Sadly it sounds as if the Gidewons have only worried about pleasing themselves. Maybe if they had been a bit more considerate of their neighbors their first go around, people would be more considerate of their efforts now.

Informed

September 7th, 2009
5:24 pm

It’s funny but that family (the Gidewons) should be sent packing. They jumped out onto the scene out of nowhere. I wonder where they got all the money to start these clubs. These clubs are more than likely a front for someone’s drug money. People need to investigate that family. Something doesn’t seem right I bet there’s a BIGGER STORY waiting to be uncovered.

Jamie Gumbrecht

September 7th, 2009
11:31 pm

Hey folks, just a reminder: please stay on the topic of whether neighborhoods and nightclubs can coexist. Informed: please don’t throw anonymous accusations around in the comments.

Greg Miller

September 9th, 2009
12:04 pm

What happened to “The Midtown Mile” idea – to raise Peachtree Street to world class status like Michigan Avenue in Chicago or Park Avenue in New York?

Does opening Vision Nightclub on Peachtree Street help to raise Peachtree to world class status?

I am from Chicago and Michigan Avenue is the place you go for world class shopping, dining, and lodging… not for nightclubs. You go to Rush Street for that.

[...] talked before about whether neighborhoods and nightclubs can co-exist, but this takes the question to neighborhoods, nightclubs and hours of the night. Let’s just [...]

channce

December 15th, 2009
7:06 pm

I really think you guys should bring vision back! It was one of the best night club in geogria actually. Visions was the hot spot. It didn’t give that getto inpression at all. More mature crowd. Please reopen vision back. Also, I wouldn’t mind being a waitress or manager for the club. I have manger experience as well. Thanks for taking time out to read my concerns.

Melanie

July 9th, 2010
2:57 am

Being a patron of Visions the club did attract a higher end party clientle than nost clubs. Also when the club closed you can feel a shift for Atlanta nightlife for the worse. There are club on Cresent Ave. that bring a lot of traffic. What really gets me is how people are upset about a club being built when you live in a major city on the major street. If the noise concerns you so move to the burbs. There are high rises around that same area that can not open because people are not buying but there is a problem opening a bussiness that generates money for the city. Hum that’s funny to me. Classic case of having the cake and eating it too. I want to live downtown/midtown because its cool and close to everything but if it gets too loud and too many people around I want them to go away. Give me a break and get over yourself