In an effort to stop proposed development around an antebellum estate in Roswell, preservationists donned red sweaters and scarves at a meeting of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. Nearly 90 people crammed into a city hall workroom Friday to discuss a plan to build 50 cottage-style homes on three sides of the Mimosa Hall property.
Many of them worried about harming the gardens of the nearly 200-year-old estate. Some expressed concerns over traffic. But most worried about preserving the character of historic Roswell.
The preliminary plan by the developer, Hedgewood Homes, did not meet the city’s building code, which calls for larger single-family lots or townhouses.
The plan is now on hold. Going forward, the developer can ask the mayor and city council to amend the building code to allow for smaller homes, or put forth a plan that fits the existing code.
Pam Sessions, co-owner of Hedgewood Homes, said she welcomed the feedback.
“It was a good conversation,” she said. “I feel like it’s a starting point.”
The 50-home, 9-acre plan would allow the developer to gift the historic home to the city, Sessions said. The estate’s downtown Roswell location makes it prime real estate.
Sotheby's International Realty has the current list price for the home and surrounding 9 acres at $3.85 million. The cost of the home, surrounding acres and another 21 undeveloped acres is $7.85 million.
Michelle King Slater, a Roswell resident, started a Facebook page in an effort to save the estate. She believes the city could benefit more by using the historic property for tourism.
“We have so much history it’s mind boggling,” said Toby Silver-Mlotek, docent at neighboring antebellum home Bulloch Hall. As a native of New York, she said she’s seen development wash away a place’s character.
The estate was designed for Roswell founding father John Dunwoody in the mid-1800s, according to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
A later owner, General A. J. Hansell, dubbed it "Mimosa Hall" after its many mimosa trees. His descendent, Sally Hansell, currently owns the home.
The home has been placed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's "Places in Peril" list due to the proposed sale and development.
Hedgewood Homes does not have an immediate timeline for new plans, but Sessions said the company hopes to consult with the trust and city on how to move forward.
“What’s next is coming together,” she said.
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