A newly formed organization hopes to gain the city’s approval to transform the clubhouse at the Bobby Jones Golf Course into a recital hall capable of hosting chamber music concerts and personal music lessons.
The group presented early plans that call for demolishing walls and building a stage at an Oct. 16 public meeting held in the clubhouse at 384 Woodward Way. About 50 people attended and reacted positively to the plans, clapping at the end of the presentation and thanking the organizers for proposing the idea.
The group is being formed by Alex Simmons, a nearby resident and attorney, who brought the idea to District 8 Councilmember Yolanda Adrean and the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy.
“There is no space like it in the city. It fits a need for the city, but it also will remain a community space,” Simmons said.
Representatives from both the conservancy and the Peachtree Battle Alliance attended the meeting to voice their support for the proposal.
“The deal isn’t inked, but there is a lot of momentum and we’re thrilled to be a part of this,” Catherine Spillman, the executive director of the Memorial Park Conservancy, said.
Adrean authored an ordinance that passed in September that gave the group permission to raise $1 million to show they are committed to the idea and it has the support of the public. If it raises the money by early 2018, the group can then go into negotiations with the city, Adrean said.
The group is proposing to knock out walls on the main level of the clubhouse to build a stage and expand seating. A patio and bar would also be built behind the seating area. On the lower level, several rooms would be built to host private lessons. A rehearsal studio and lobby would also be created on the lower level.
There are no plans to expand the parking lot and the outside of the building would remain unchanged. The designs also call for improving ADA access.
The designs are being done by Perkins+Will architect Allen Post, who has designed music halls in the past and lives across the street from the clubhouse.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars post that recently moved to the golf course would still be able to use the clubhouse and it would remain open to the public for other community events and meetings, Simmons said.
Jun-Ching Lin, a friend of Simmons who is a violinist at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, said the concave ceiling gives the room excellent acoustics and demonstrated that by playing violin during the meeting.
The orchestra is not involved in an official capacity with the plan, Simmons said.
The golf course was transferred to the state in a 2016 land swap, which Adrean voted against, and is undergoing its own renovation. The clubhouse is separately leased to the city from the state.
The golf operator is moving out of the clubhouse next month, meaning the clubhouse will have no tenant. It is an iconic part of the neighborhood that shouldn’t be neglected, Adrean said.
“I did not want [the clubhouse] to become a casualty of the state takeover,” Adrean said.
The Department of Parks and Recreation currently oversees the clubhouse, but does not have the budget to renovate or maintain it the way a private partner could, Adrean said.
“I really think this will bring a great amenity to the city,” she said.
The group also would be required to create an endowment fund that will be used to maintain the building.
The city has not been approached by any other applicant, but did not put out a request for proposals, Adrean said.
The group is currently submitting paperwork to create the nonprofit, which will be created under a generic name while members determine a name, Simmons said.
The group will not seek donations until the nonprofit is created, he said.
The presentation ended with applause from the audience and neighbors thanked the organizers for proposing the idea during the question and answer segment of the meeting.
“I think everybody in the room was thrilled and excited about the plan,” Bea Garner, a neighbor, said after the meeting.
John Adams, another nearby resident and Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy board member, said the location would work well for a recital hall.
“It sounds wonderful. It’s rather amazing for this venue to be in such a quiet place with no major streets and be historically significant,” Adams said.