The city of Atlanta is rethinking its historic preservation system for possible improvements and will seek public input through a round of meetings, including one in Buckhead on Oct. 24.

The “Future Places Project” is looking the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance, which is getting fairly historic itself at roughly three decades old.

Historic preservation has been a hot topic of debate in Buckhead in recent years, including the demolition of a mansion by a prominent designer and the former home of a legendary bookstore making the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Places in Peril” list.

Currently, the city’s Urban Design Commission reviews zoning-related protections for 23 historic districts and 63 structures or other landmarks. “The question is, is that enough of a tool?” says Doug Young, the city’s assistant director of Historic Preservation and executive director of the commission.

Young said the meeting presentation will include several aspects for rethinking and reviewing historic protections. One is the results of an analysis of city parks and historic resources within them. Another element is a review of historic preservation programs in 10 to 12 other U.S. cities, as well as “innovative programs” in various other cities.

And, Young said, an important aspect of the process is an attempt to put together “the story of Atlanta” – not a literal history, but rather a group of themes about the city’s identity that can shape policies for what to preserve and how to do it.

The overall idea, Young said, is to figure out the best “recognition or protection or tool that will help keep those things around.”

A survey will be available at the meeting as well as online, though it is not ready yet. The city is also conducting a randomized survey of residents via a marketing contractor, Young said.

An initial series of input meetings kicked off Oct. 3. The Buckhead meeting for the city’s northwest quadrant will be held Oct. 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree St.

The city plans to hold another round of meetings early next year and wrap up the process in May 2020.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.