By John Schaffner

The Mansion on Peachtree, a Rosewood Hotel & Residences at 3376 Peachtree Road in Buckhead, opened its doors for business on May 1, but the ceremonial opening took place with a toasting ceremony in the English Garden at 11:30 a.m. on May 7, followed by a social party May 9.

The slender 42-story building designed by noted architect Robert A.M. Stern, has 127 hotel rooms and 45 residences, which start at $2.5 million. The project cost $185 million and was developed by City Centre Properties LLC, which is principally owned by longtime Atlanta real estate developer John Williams.

At the May 7 ceremony, Williams was asked where he would rank this among his many developments over the years.

“It is by far the toughest deal that I have ever been involved in because it is a very complex building and extraordinary building, using one of if not the leading nation’s architects,” Williams said. “But it is very satisfying to get to this point, because I think we have done what we wanted to do, which is build a wonderful building.”

The founder of Post Properties, who says he has now moved on to other types of ventures, added, “It is like your children, you can hardly say this is the one that I like better than the other. But it certainly is one of the developments that I have enjoyed more than anything else.”

He said his present company will likely develop more properties like The Mansion on Peachtree, as well as some apartments, but he said of Post Properties, “That part of my life is over and I am headed to something else.”

During the ceremony, Williams explained to those attending that he didn’t originally plan to have a hotel on the site. However, he said he continued to receive phone calls from people all of which told him it was the perfect site in Atlanta for a hotel.

Having been persuaded to include a hotel in the plans, Williams said he was “determined to make it a Rosewood Hotel, the number one hotel in the nation” and sister to the Carlyle in New York and the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.

Of the selection of Robert Stern as the architect, Williams said, “I wanted architecture that would look as good 50 years from now as it does today.

In addition to Williams, speakers at the opening ceremony hosted by Luigi Romaniello, managing director of The Mansion on Peachtree, were Peggy McCormick, president of the Atlanta Development Authority; Sam Massell, former Atlanta mayor and president of the Buckhead Coalition, and John Scott, CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

Recalling the many opening ceremonies he has participated in as mayor of Atlanta and president of the Buckhead Coalition, Massell said, “Not a single one was more meaningful than this one.” He added that The Mansion on Peachtree “has raised the bar for five-star, five-diamond hotels.”

Massell quipped that the next time he sees Gov. Sonny Perdue he will have to ask him “which Mansion in Buckhead he prefers.”

Neo, an Italian restaurant in the main building, opened with the ceremony May 7. Another restaurant, Craft, will open in early fall in a stand-alone building in front of The Mansion on Peachtree Road. Also included in the property is the 29 Spa, operated by founder Lydia Mondavi, a state-of-the-art Technogym fitness suite and six event spaces.