Historic Sophie Mae Peanut Brittle Plant to Face the Wrecking Ball
For most Americans, peanut brittle is a holiday staple. And for a long time, a little plant in Midtown Atlanta fed America's craze for the crunchy treat. Now that piece of history is as brittle as the candy as the City of Atlanta poises itself to raze the skeleton of a historic Atlanta candy factory.
The Sophie Mae Peanut Brittle plant has been shuttered since the parent company, Texas-based Atkinson's Candy Co, pulled the plug on its operations in 2008. The squat, single-story factory building now sits derelict and empty, surrounded by a massive amount of redevelopment in the area of downtown Atlanta known as the Old Fourth Ward.
The City of Atlanta is looking to use HUD funds "[to] rid the neighborhood of a vacant structure, which presently contributes to deterioration of the area.” The owner, Westside Revitalization Acquisitions—an affiliate of the Atlanta Housing Authority, does not indicate what it plans to do with the cleared 1.5-acre parcel beyond this demolition.
Our own national editor-in-chief Sibley Fleming drove by the vacant facility this morning to grab these pics. According to marketing materials, the site, now zoned for light industrial, could be rezoned for a mixed-use project. And given that it sits in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward and has scenic views of the Atlanta skyline, there's a good chance there will be demand for the site. City of Atlanta's Jewanna Gaither tells us the city has no plans for the parcel at this moment, and has simply applied to raze the structure there.
The City purchased the old factory from Center Corp for $2.7M last April, according to real estate transaction tracking firm Databank. The site, near the $2B Beltline (the massive redevelopment of the city's old industrial ring), is flanked by apartments and other commercial buildings, including the senior housing complex Cosby Spear Highrise (here), owned by AHA, that abutts the facility's property.
Beauchamp Carr, the retired Woodruff Arts Center VP whose grandfather actually founded the original Sophie Mae peanut brittle company (named after his wife), was a principal in the ownership of the former plant. Beauchamp also was once credited with saving the Fox Theatre from the wrecking ball back in the 1970s. Family members sold the business to outside interests in 1969, but the plant remained in operation through all of the changes until 2008.
Some of the higher-profile developments around it include 251 North Apartment Homes, Camden Midtown Atlanta (here), the Grady Memorial Hospital satellite off North Avenue, Greystar's 131 Ponce apartments, and the project that started the Old Fourth Ward redevelopment boom—Ponce City Market.
While it's unclear if and when the city either intends to develop or sell the parcel, the site has some incredible skyline views that could be a catch for developers, including of Midtown's skyline with Bank of America tower in prominence.