With a show of hands, Buckhead’s Neighborhood Planning Unit B on June 26 gave a thumbs down to a condo association’s plan to tear down the historic Randolph-Lucas House.
The NPU recommended denying the association’s appeal of the city of Atlanta’s decision to reject its application for a demolition permit.
The decision now moves to the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment meeting on July 12. But many in the community want to work with the 2500 Peachtree Condominiums Association to find a solution, noting that the original zoning didn’t contain the protections for the house residents thought were in place. In 1997, the developer agreed to maintain the house after he moved it off its original foundation to make way for the condos.
The condo market tanked, the bank foreclosed on the property and the house has been vacant ever since. When the association’s attorney, Hakim Hilliard began preparing his case to appeal the city’s decision to turn down the permit, he discovered the agreement wasn’t in the zoning the Atlanta City Council approved in 1997.
Wright Mitchell, president of the Buckhead Heritage Society, conceded that point during his comments at the meeting.
“We can not force the condo association to preserve and maintain the Randolph-Lucas House,” Mitchell said.
The Randolph-Lucas House, on 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 at 2494 Peachtree Road in 1924.
Hilliard told the NPU the city doesn’t recognize the building as a house. Hilliard said the city recognizes it as a business, one that is on legal footing as shaky as the house’s condition. The building doesn’t have a certificate of occupancy and hasn’t had one for years. The condo association hired an engineer who concluded the structure is structurally unsound.
“We’re going to pursue the demolition,” Hilliard told the packed room at the NPU meeting held at the Cathedral of Christ the King. But he added that the condo owners would be interested in hearing proposals to relocate the building.
NPU-B Chairwoman Sally Silver asked for a show of hands of people in attendance who wanted to see the appeal denied. Virtually the entire room put their hand in the air.
“That speaks volumes,” Silver said, before calling for the NPU board’s show of hands echoing the crowd’s sentiment.
Silver quickly turned the issue around on the people who attended the meeting. If they are truly interested in preserving the house, they need to prove it, she said. She said she wants to see a fundraising drive and letters of support to make historic preservation of the site possible.
“Let’s make the Randolph-Lucas House what it should be,” she said.
Mitchell and Erica Danylchak, executive director of the Buckhead Heritage Society, said they hope the two sides can come to an agreement.
“I am optimistic, particularly with the show of support that we had tonight,” Danylchak said. “There are a number of groups that have come together to rally around this house.”