Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

There’s a bunch of new signs popping up around town. Or maybe not new, but new to me and to DM. And that counts. Here are some notables.

Retail Conversion?
When One Decatur Town Center was built in 1984, replacing the former Candler Hotel, downtown was pretty darn dead. Unless you count the hookers, that is. Or so I’ve been told. Either way, while the city’s vision called for development that would contribute to a new “Main Street” lined with shops and restaurants, the market economics of the day said, “no.” So, the building was built in such a way that the ground floor could be leased for office space until such time that the retail market improved, upon which the space could be retrofitted to assume its intended use. 25+ years later, we might finally be there.

At least that’s what’s suggested by this first picture. Any of our regular insiders know more? My personal assessment is that such a conversion would add even more interest to this stretch of Ponce, which has already assumed the role of one of our most charming downtown blocks. And there’s certainly historic precedent, such as the retail space that originally occupied the ground floor of the Pythagoras Mason Temple Building.

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Forecourt. By Marriott.

Be forewarned: This may get wonky.

I figure that’s okay. With DM working the daily, well-reasoned news and perspective angle, Daren staking out the purview of “hare-brained schemes,” and Andisheh reminding us that, boosterism aside, we’ve still got problems to solve, wonky is pretty much what’s left. Which is fine. It suits me.

Recent talk about the Holiday Inn to Courtyard conversion got me thinking. Most, if not all, of the comments so far have focused on, at the micro-level, the quality of the accommodations or, at the macro-level, the hipness factor and overall economic benefit to Decatur. But what about the space in between those two extremes — the day to day quality of life for the people who live here?

The Holiday Inn was considered a coup when it was built because it fulfilled a key goal of 1982’s Town Center plan and, I think overall, it has been a successful addition to downtown. Nonetheless, from a design perspective, it’s really worked in spite of its design rather than because of it.

It’s as though, when it was built, someone said, “Shame about the location” and simply shoehorned their standard, just off the interstate, hotel template into the site rather than embracing the street and Decatur’s vision for downtown. But perhaps the Courtyard conversion presents an opportunity to correct that.

That’s right. I’m talkin’ ‘bout terraces.

Continue reading “Forecourt. By Marriott.”