Castleberry Hill Nighlife. Buckhead 2.0?

It’s 8 p.m. on a steamy weekday evening, and Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill neighborhood is already hopping.

Fashionably dressed young people pack 255 Tapas Lounge, a brand-new hot spot on Peters Street, the district’s main drag. A few doors down, hip-hop music thumps inside Slice, a super-chic pizza joint where flat-screen TVs hang on the wall and live DJs spin tunes.

Hill is, in a word, hot.

But down the block, Erica Pines sits in her condo and stews. She frets that her neighborhood, known for its hip lofts and trendy art galleries, is turning into Party Central.

“We’re becoming the new Buckhead,” she said. “It’s awful. It’s just awful.”

Pines, 36, president of the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association, runs through a litany of problems: Noise blares at all hours of the night; cruisers have taken over the streets; crime is up; discarded fliers and other debris litter the sidewalks.

“It’s not part of our master plan to become a bar district,” she said. “We really believe our neighborhood is a jewel, and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Now, Castleberry Hill residents are taking steps to protect their turf.

They’ve worked with local political leaders to craft legislation that would limit the number of new bars and restaurants able to open. They’ve also filed complaints against restaurants accusing them of illegally operating as nightclubs. Two proprietors have court dates in September.

But some business owners say they’re being unfairly targeted.

Sitting at a small table at the front of jam-packed 255 Tapas Lounge, owner Cortland Jackson said the issue boils down to demographics. The mostly white

homeowners in Castleberry Hill aren’t happy that the neighborhood is attracting such a young, African-American crowd, he said.

The conflict has “class and racial overtones,” said Jackson, 36. “At the end of the day, [neighborhood residents] don’t like all the young, black people.”

Steve Messer, a Castleberry Hill pioneer who moved to the neighborhood 15 years ago, said residents didn’t have a problem until the last couple of years. A scene that had mostly attracted black students from the nearby Atlanta University Center changed, drawing a more hardcore party crowd, he said.

“The college kids are really well-behaved,” said Messer, 47. “It’s the other group of people who don’t go to college — either they don’t work or work very little — and all they want to do is party. That’s the element we are dealing with now, and it’s causing a lot of frustration.”

Read Full Article.  By Paul Donsky, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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