The Blair Building in Decatur being refreshed, modernized with some upgrades – Decaturish

Decatur, Georgia — The Blair Building in downtown Decatur steps into modernity with a few upgrades that honor the building’s original design through colorful, layered patterns, stacked tiles, lush fabrics, and soft textures.

The Blair Building was built in 1939 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building spans 12,500 square feet and two stories. It has been an office building for over 80 years and all offices are currently leased to various businesses. Many tenants focus on health and wellness.

“It’s just fun to work on a building with so much history and so many people and companies that have come before us, and trying to do our part and do our best to continue to have space for that,” said Gene Kansas, cultural developer and founder of Gene Kansas, Commercial Real Estate. “We’re a company that focuses on adaptive reuse and historic preservation, so taking a building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and letting it be what it is is something we care about.”

Kansas has lived in the Atlanta metro area for 26 years and loved his time in Decatur walking, playing and enjoying the architecture.

“I’ve always noticed this quirky, fun, unique building, the Blair Building,” Kansas said. “Our company does cultural development and historical preservation. Over the years, I have always asked myself the question.

GKCRE purchased the building in July 2021. The previous owners, architectural firm Martin Riley, will remain tenants.

“In the meantime, we’re just providing a little TLC and bringing this architectural gem to our time,” Kansas said.

He reached out to Smith Hanes Studio to help make the building a “really special and welcoming place, a place where anyone who walks in can feel comfortable whether they’re wearing a suit or a tracksuit,” Kansas said.

He added that the building is part of the fabric of the city of Decatur.

“We are keeping this program and helping to make it the best version of itself, so fresh paint, new modern energy efficiency systems, improved landscaping and reducing some of the parking lot to accommodate more green spaces,” he said.

Inside, GKCRE, in collaboration with Smith Hanes, is working to create a library bar, a multifunctional space that looks like a library but can be used for smaller events and building tenants. The space will not be a bar offering drinks, but will function as a breakout room for the building.

“We redo the bathrooms, and then we look at this outdoor courtyard,” said Janine MacKenzie of Smith Hanes. “You watch it from the library bar, but you access it from the back of the building. There will be great landscaping and patio seating.

Music will play a role in the library bar with a recording setup and a selection of recordings that people can choose from and listen to.

“We have a few little Easter eggs that we’ve designed in space that are related to music and also books and reading. I feel like it wants to be a holistic environment for the comfort of the people using the space,” said Alanna Frierson of Smith Hanes Studio.

The Smith Hanes Studio team can’t wait to see the library bar come to life at the end of a long hallway that leads people to the back of the building on the first floor.

“I’m most excited when it’s done, when you walk in, when it feels good, the lighting is good, the finishes around you are good, there’s a great song, a great record,” said MacKenzie. “That’s the most exciting part for me of what we do and what we’re doing on this project is how to create spaces that you really feel good in. That’s always the most exciting thing and the more rewarding when it really works.”

Kansas is thrilled with the sense of hopeful wonder the Blair Building brings with the feel of Alice in Wonderland from the outside but transported to 1939 on the inside.

“When you walk in and you open that door that was put on the building in 1939, it’s the same weight, the same feel, and you walk in, and the materials are of that vintage just new and fresh, and be invited in through programming, I think and hope people are happy and have that sense of wonder.

Kansas hopes to complete the project in early August.

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