City remains quiet about plans for the Scottish Rite space

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 14, 2015
The Solarium at the historic Scottish Rite building in Oakhurst. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

The Solarium at the historic Scottish Rite building in Oakhurst. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

This March will mark two years since McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub closed, leaving a restaurant space at the Scottish Rite property vacant.

There’s a deal in the works that would put another restaurant in its place, but the building’s new owner – the city of Decatur’s Downtown Development Authority – won’t say who it is, citing a confidentiality agreement.

The closure of McGowan’s brought to light a lawsuit between the building’s former owners, Progressive Decatur, and the nonprofit that fought to save the historic property, the Community Center of South Decatur. The lawsuit was resolved when the city of Decatur, via its Development Authority, stepped in to buy the property. The city intends to use rental income from the property to pay of the money borrowed to purchase it. A new restaurant tenant would provide additional income, in addition to bringing new life into one of Oakhurst’s most visible vacant spaces.

Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne asked DDA attorney Kyle Williams to see if the tenant would release the city from its confidentiality agreement. So far, the tenant has declined.

“I forwarded your inquiries to counsel for the tenant,” Williams said. “We remain under a confidentiality agreement at this time, but will make public the matter when in a position to do so.”

The city began considering two restaurant proposals back in February. At the time, Menne said, “One would be more ‘chef’ driven and the other offers a small restaurant concept with a retail component in part of the space.” In July, Menne reported that the DDA had reached a final lease agreement with the unidentified tenant. She said the city was required to sign a nondisclosure agreement because the tenant was employed at another business when the deal was finalized.

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