Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Cursed Plaza

Ok, that's a little strong, but the Plaza Shopping Center at Highland and Ponce here in Atlanta has gone through a dizzying parade of businesses in recent years. It's too bad that it's (largely) so unstable -- the building is really cool (it's an art deco partner to the building housing the Majestic, next door) and has been here a really long time.

But businesses in this building (maybe in the Majestic building too -- I really don't know what's there, other than the 4 a.m. dining haven) don't survive long. I don't know why. High rents? Outside the Virginia-Highland walking area? Haunted?

That there's the west end of the building. The real estate office there has been there for a long time -- "Zac" is something of an Atlanta fixture, though you don't see his ads (with his cheery countenance) around so much as you used to. I really dig those colorful little fluorishes on each end.

The theater is pretty much the anchor to the building these days, though it almost vanished -- it was about to go under or be bought out or something when some local buyers saved it a few years back. That sign is one of the best in Atlanta, especially at night.

To its right (from our perspective), in the corner where it says "opening soon," we used to have the "Mirror of Korea" restaurant. It remains the best Korean food I've ever had -- also the only Korean food I've ever had, so I guess that's not much of an honor. It had held out since the late '70s (it was referenced in the Mitchell Ponce book), but went under a year or two ago. Sigh.

To its left is the Righteous Room, a pretty great bar with a pretty great jukebox and pretty good food. I don't go there as often as I should, partly because I'm getting less smoke-tolerant, partly because despite it being only a block away from me, there's at least six bars that are closer to me. (You may have just learned something about my real estate purchasing decisions.)

And then here, the really troubled corner store. For ages and ages, this was Plaza Drugs, Atlanta's first 24-hour pharmacy. I don't know when that vanished -- again, in the Mitchell book in the early '80s, it was still around -- but by the time I moved here, in 1999, it was gone... another symbol of "old Ponce."

That began the merry-go-round. When I got here, the space was "Harry's in a Hurry," a small local grocery. Then it became "Market One," same idea but a bit more upscale (chain? I know not). Then it became Storehouse Furniture, which upset a lot of people -- Virginia Highland and Poncey-Highland is pretty uncorporate, though I suspect that is really not going to be the case much longer. One drunken night at the Righteous Room I drunkenly told a group of other drunk people that I was going to go throw a chair through the Storehouse window. Dunno why -- I've bought stuff from other Storehouses before, and I'm not really that angry of a person. In any case, I didn't follow through. Storehouse, without my violent assistance, went away within less than a year anyhow.

Now, an Urban Outfitters has opened there. It seems like an odd choice -- though granted, all I know about Urban Outfitters is what I see through the windows. (Dr. Dre pint glasses?) I don't particularly like it there, though it's unobtrusive and it's better than the space sitting empty. I dunno why -- I'm not too anti-corporate, I shop at Target regularly. I just sort of fear it's a beachhead, and the neighborhood I enjoy will start seeing its character change more rapidly.

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