One of the oldest neighborhoods in Atlanta, former enslaved people made Summerhill their home in the late 1800s. This community thrived with retail activity and diversity from early 1900s to the 1950s. Numerous grocery stores, general merchandise establishments, and dry-cleaning stores, served Black and Jewish residents. In subsequent years, construction of the Interstate 20 interchange, public housing, and the Atlanta Braves stadium spurred displacement of thousands of Black residents, exodus of white residents, and neighborhood decline.
Real estate developer Carter is supporting longtime community efforts for the revitalization of Summerhill through their new multi-use development. The project includes that renovation of existing storefront buildings along Georgia Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Summerhill. Carter Executive Vice President David Nelson notes, “As a longtime developer in Atlanta, we work to build trust in the communities for our developments. We are invested in contributing projects that are meaningful and beneficial to neighborhoods.”
One of the most successful rehabilitation projects with the Carter development can be found at Halfway Crooks Beer. Design firm Square Feet Studio has activated an abandoned two-story, red brick building with an astute design for the Belgium-inspired brewery.
Project Architect and Designer Holden Spaht recalls his initial tour inside the building: humbled by the vibrant colors, rich wall textures, and impression of the people, who once lavished the spaces with attention and love. “I immediately wanted to integrate the intimacy of these rooms into our design.”
Interior spaces at Halfway Crooks Beer reflect distant, yet deeply personal experiences of brewery owners, Joran Van Ginderachter and Shawn Bainbridge. Vintage wall coverings from the 1970s and quirky furniture seen in Belgian cafes by Van Ginderachter inspired finely tailored rooms with exposed brick and plaster wall surfaces. Colors found in the original interior walls are integrated into botanical tile motifs. Hi-tech equipment and lighting convey Banbridge’s computer engineering background.
Square Feet Studio converted the second-story of the building into a rooftop deck. This well-ventilated space ideally suits customers with affinity for outdoor dining and a palate for well-crafted beers and food. Replacement of second floor windows with guardrails adds visual depth along the street elevation of the building.
Bainbridge says, “Atlanta has really great little buildings, special places with history that have been lived in. In Summerhill, we found a perfect place for our Belgian-inspired brewery.” Thoughtful rehabilitation of these modest structures is significant in evoking connections to history and community pride.
Melody L. Harclerode, FAIA enjoys connecting the public to wondrous places as an award-winning architect, author, and Executive Director of Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta.