By Shirley H. Coleman
Atlanta – There’s a new look to an iconic building on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in northwest Atlanta. The 6-story, 2001 MLK Building is undergoing a renaissance — thanks to its new owner and some dedicated tenants. Located across the street from the historic Westview Cemetery, a short walk from the West Side Beltline, and clearly visible from I-20 West, the building is notable for being the largest office building in the area and for its unique, architectural design. The architecture features distinctive circular windows, diagonal and triangular lines, and now boasts a trendy, new paint job of gray, white and a splash of lime green.
Built by the Bolton brother’s architectural firm in 1972, the 83,000 square foot, building was hailed as a superb example of post-modern/contemporary architecture. Eventually, the building fell on hard times and had difficulty retaining good tenants. The current owner, 2001 MLK Holdings, LLC, owned by Steve Firestone, purchased the property from Wells Fargo in 2016. Firestone said, “Our main reason for turning around failing properties is to increase the value, while making sure that we add value to the local communities we work in.” He continued, “We want to bring our projects back to being a useful part of the local community.”
The goal of the new owner is to preserve the legacy of the building while enhancing its aesthetic appeal and upgrading the building to modern standards. Firestone believes that the building is now poised to take its place as a nucleus for economic activity and social energy for the city’s MLK corridor–a major thoroughfare which is used by an estimated 109,000 cars each day. The eventual hope is that the building will house an array of private, public and non-profit organizations that will increase the economic vitality of the area. Firestone wants to honor Dr. Martin Luther King — the namesake of the street — by helping to promote successful businesses in a revitalized urban community. To that end, he is working closely with one of the building’s tenants, the M.L. King Jr. Drive Merchants Association under the leadership of its president, Terry Collier, to make it happen. “We believe that this idea dovetails perfectly with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ vision of One Atlanta,” said Collier. Established in the first-ever, Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, One Atlanta includes as one of its main tenets, “Thriving neighborhoods, communities and businesses.”
Following a recent refinance and funding from Invest Atlanta, the owner is restoring 2001 MLK into a civic and commercial hub that builds on the current momentum of revitalization in Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods. The fact that the building is only a short walk from the terminus of the West End Trail of the Atlanta Beltline is also a huge plus. The opportunity to link this large, modern and safe office building to a vital pedestrian and bicycle corridor adds to the appeal of the property. “Additionally,” said Rewa Berry, the property manager, “You get the city view, but not the city prices!’
The 2001 MLK building also features signature artwork throughout. “We love art and want stand-out art in the building to complement the businesses that are here,” said the property manager, Rewa Berry. She went on to explain that Mr. Firestone wanted the building to represent the new urban aesthetic, so the idea of a mural was born. “Let’s honor people who were the first of Atlanta to make it what it is — so it won’t be lost” she said. Firestone loved the idea. They chose a native Atlanta artist, Henry Blackmon, III, to bring their idea to life.
There will be an official dedication of the mural, entitled “First of Atlanta,” announced soon. Please visit www.2001mlk.com or call (404) 564-4600, for information about leasing office space.