Save Cheshire Bridge from Alex Wan and the gen­tri­fiers

GA Voice - - Views - By Matthew Car­di­nale

Cheshire Bridge Road: al­lur­ing, risque, di­verse, au­then­tic, vi­brant, alive, and now... en­dan­gered be­cause of peo­ple like At­lanta City Coun­cil­man Alex Wan, the openly gay of­fi­cial whose District 6 in­cludes both Cheshire Bridge Road and Mid­town. Re­cently, we learned of a zon­ing ef­fort to change the char­ac­ter of Cheshire Bridge by get­ting rid of restau­rants, bars, clubs, and stores that were grand­fa­thered in as part of a 2005 re­zon­ing. Now Mr. Wan wants to go back and get rid of grandpa.

The le­gal as­pects of this do not bode well for Wan nor for the neigh­bor­hoods he pur­port­edly rep­re­sents, as they have pro­posed an il­le­gal “tak­ing.”

This “tak­ing” is about the on­go­ing project of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, ho­mog­e­niza­tion, ster­il­iza­tion and cap­i­tal­iza­tion of a his­toric neigh­bor­hood.

I have been for­tu­nate enough to live off of Cheshire Bridge since 2011, in a jewel of a multi-racial com­mu­nity on Wood­land Av­enue, that is one of the last bas­tions of af­ford­able, mul­ti­fam­ily ren­tal hous­ing in all of Buck­head and Mid­town.

This is what Wan and his sec­ond-wave gen­tri­fiers wish to de­stroy the most, so they can make way for more re­pul­sive con­dos and lux­ury apart­ments made of ticky tacky that no work­ing fam­ily can af­ford.

Cheshire Bridge, in my view, be­came the new Mid­town sev­eral years ago af­ter the sec- ond wave of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion in Mid­town en­tered full swing, dis­plac­ing the work­ing class ho­mo­sex­u­als who fixed up the place.

So, do we, the gay com­mu­nity, al­low the Jun­gle and the Heretic to go the same way as Back­street? Do we al­low an­other com­mu­nity to be yup­pi­fied, bup­pi­fied, and ster­il­ized — forc­ing us, the gays who wish to party, to some in­dus­trial area in the out­skirts like Mr. Wan en­vi­sions, per­haps Ful­ton In­dus­trial, where we can dance the night away in one of the worst pol­lu­tion hotspots in all of the metro At­lanta area?

Th­ese neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tions who want so des­per­ately to see porn stores shut­tered, work­ing fam­i­lies ban­ished, and their prop­erty val­ues sky­rocket, should not get their way.

The fact is, they knew ex­actly what neigh­bor­hood they were mov­ing into when they chose to move here. Their com­plaints are not valid now.

In Wan’s vi­sion of At­lanta, peo­ple come home from their cor­po­rate jobs to their 2.5 dogs cheer­ily bark­ing at their white picket fence, then they have din­ner and watch tele­vi­sion.

In the real At­lanta, peo­ple have sex­ual needs and de­sires that they some­times wish to act upon, some­times in­volv­ing bars, strip­pers, and dance clubs. Cheshire Bridge, our red light district, is a nat­u­ral out­growth and ex­pres­sion of our very hu­man­ity, which we should take pride in.

Fi­nally, gay vot­ers need to be more crit­i­cal and in­tro­spec­tive about the politi­cians we sup­port. Gay does not mean pro­gres­sive, and Mr. Wan is Ex­hibit A. Some­times, hav­ing an openly gay elected of­fi­cial can re­sult in the pur­suit of poli­cies that ac­tu­ally harm the gay com­mu­nity.

The Zon­ing Re­view Board will soon con­sider this pro­posal, and we should or­ga­nize to de­fend, pro­tect and pre­serve our his­toric neigh­bor­hood.

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