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Posted by on September 18, 2012.

Buckhead: Historic house staying put for now

The owners of the Randolph-Lucas House, located at 2494 Peachtree Road, want to tear the historic property down, saying it costs too much to maintain.

Plans to save an historic Buckhead home by moving it are on hold at the moment because of a request for further inspections.

The Randolph-Lucas House, a mansion located at 2494 Peachtree Road, is part of the Peachtree Heights Park District, a nationally recognized historic site. Hollins Nichols Randolph, a prominent Atlanta attorney, built the red brick residence in 1924. The 2500 Peachtree Condominiums Association, the current owner of the house, hired an engineering firm who found the house isn’t structurally sound. The group proposed demolishing the structure.

When the original developer built the condominiums in 1997, one of the stipulations of the permit was moving the house 35 feet forward from its foundation and to renovate it. After the developer finished the project the condo market tanked and the developer only sold 50 percent of the units. The bank foreclosed on the property.

The home has sat virtually untouched since the development of the condos. The association, citing the condition of the structure and cost of repairs, began exploring the demolition permit, prompting a backlash from historians and Neighborhood Planning Unit B members.

After the public outcry, it appeared both sides were making progress. Wright Mitchell, President of Buckhead Heritage, and other advocates pushed a plan that would move the home.

Mitchell said requests for additional inspections remain a sticking point that both sides are unlikely to overcome.

He said people who are interested in becoming the new owner of the house and rehabilitating it want an idea of what the repair costs will be.

So far, the owners haven’t agreed to the terms of the inspections, saying their engineering estimate will suffice and that any further inspections will be an unnecessary liability. Owners want to wait until the city rules on an appeal of an earlier denial of the demolition permit. Mitchell believes the group will get the permit, but he doesn’t want any further delay.

“In my opinion it’s going to waste valuable time when we could be working a productive solution to the problem,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell added that preservationists have promised any independent estimates and analysis of the property won’t be used in any hearings about the permit.

Hakim Hilliard, an attorney who represents the condo association, said the condo association has been willing to work with people who want to save the house and said it offered $100,000 toward the cost of moving it. Mitchell said the cost to move it would be $350,000.

“In the spirit of cooperation, I offered to Mr. Mitchell a list of conditions under which a limited inspection could be conducted and I understand this proposal was deemed too burdensome,” Hilliard said in an email.  “I also reminded Mr. Mitchell that any viable proposals for the relocation of the house will be entertained by the association, even for a reasonable period of time after a demolition permit is issued.”

Mitchell said the house has been vacant for more than two decades and that no interested buyer will consider it without an additional inspection.

“If they are serious about saving the house, then they ought to permit an inspection,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think sitting around and waiting for a demolition permit to be issued is a reasonable approach if the goal is to save the house.”

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