Teen ministry must move to make room for GDOT project

by: Carl Willis Updated:


DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. - A local concert venue and teen ministry must move to make way for a state road project.

The founder of the nonprofit, Tony Hart, said he can't find a new location with what the state is offering.

Hart told Channel 2's Carl Willis his mission is to serve Douglasville's youth, whether it's a hot meal or an inspiring word.

"Our motto is nobody goes home hungry, physically or spiritually," he said.

That is how The 7 Venue, a hole in the wall concert hall tucked into a corner of an aging shopping center, has struck such a powerful chord in this community.

Hart said for eight years, he's accepted everyone and reached lost youth through ministry, as well as Christian and secular rock shows.

He said he doesn't judge those with piercings or tattoos who may have been shunned elsewhere.

"I've lost a lot and basically come to this venue," said Kerry Garner. "This is home. I've gotten back with God. I have a family."

"You feel the peace," said Hart. "So, when you come, this anger that you have leaves, it just washes clean."

Still, the facility, which is located in a revamped movie theater, is scheduled to be demolished.

The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to relocate Highway 92 and The 7 Venue is right in the path.
The state has taken over the shopping center on Fairburn Road that houses the venue.

"We respect how important The 7 Venue is to their patrons and to the community," wrote a GDOT spokesperson. "However, as a state agency we are prohibited from offering more than the appraised value for any property."

Hart said he couldn't give exact numbers, but said GDOT's offer was 70 to 80 percent lower than his estimate, and didn't include what it would cost to renovate a new venue.

"Assist us in re-establishment, not just pay us enough to move out and get out of their way," said Hart.

"It is always the desire of the department to reach amicable settlements," wrote a GDOT spokesperson. "However, in this instance, the department entered into negotiations in October 2012 and continued to attempt a settlement until unsuccessful negotiations concluded in September 2013."

Despite online campaigns and a petition with about 400 signatures, Hart said the kids who were shunned and outcast elsewhere may again have nowhere to go.

"Their home is about to be demolished and all we want to do is just relocate," he said.

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