How the “Clermont Hotel Design Competition”
catalyzed its preservation.


PROJECT NAME: The Clermont Hotel Campaign
Our Plan: Save the Clermont

Just as the city of Atlanta did long ago, the phoenix has once again risen from the ashes. The Clermont Hotel (and its better-known downstairs Lounge, featuring Blondie and a coterie of nearly-as-famous strippers) reopened to the public in the summer of 2018 as an urban escape for tourists and Atlantans.


But it wasn’t long ago that the Clermont Hotel was in such a state of disrepair that it was shut down by the city. Many thought the bulldozer was next.


That’s when Gene Kansas | Commercial Real Estate stepped in with a colorfully innovative plan to spark a grassroots effort to save the building, creating the Clermont Hotel Design Competition in 2009. The marketing and community-building strategy worked. Over 600 applications were downloaded in what became a national news story. In a beer-soaked reveal at The Clermont Lounge, Gamble + Gamble Architects came out victorious with their entry celebrating a “Heaven and Hell” dichotomy, with a wedding chapel on the roof and the lounge in the basement.


Saving the Clermont would help cultivate a heightened focus on preservation, and help spark a redevelopment revolution on Ponce de Leon. The Clermont Hotel Design Competition also resulted in Gamble + Gamble becoming the architect in the hotel’s eventual redesign, a testament to the firm’s abilities, a pretty cool idea, and the will of a community. We’re also happy and proud to say, “Sometimes contests work!”