Glenridge Hall faces demolition in the near future
Officials issue permit to raze historic Sandy Springs site
- Courtesy Georgia Department of Economic Development
- Sandy Springs officials have issued a demolition permit for Glenridge Hall.
Glenridge Hall, a majestic 86-year-old Sandy Springs mansion, has hosted private benefits, film shoots, and weddings since being restored in the 1980s. But potential plans for a new residential development could lead to the historic site’s demolition.
Atlanta-based developer Ashton Woods has agreed to purchase 76 acres of land, divided by Abernathy Road, in Sandy Springs. Mercedes Benz USA plans to build its new 250,000-square-foot headquarters on a 12-acre parcel south of the road. The luxury homebuilder intends to develop the 47-acre heavily wooded parcel to the north.
That’s also where Glenridge Hall, a 12,000 square-foot Tudor-style manor originally built for past Atlantic Steel Company President Thomas K. Glenn, stands. According to documents CL obtained through an Open Records request, the mansion could be razed as early as next week. Sandy Springs officials on March 9 issued a demolition permit to Southern Environmental Services, Inc., a Marietta-based environmental construction company that has partnered with Ashton Woods on other bulldozing projects. Demolition crews could begin work anytime between April 1 and Sept. 5.
Preservationists, who predicted the wrecking ball given an estate auction of the home’s furniture and art work held last weekend, consider Glenridge Hall an important fixture of metro Atlanta’s architectural history. Melissa Swindell, director of historic resources and education programs at Heritage Sandy Springs, says the house and surrounding grounds are a “historic gem” that has played an important role in the city’s history. The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation had named the historic site to its 2015 “Places of Peril” list.
“In my 29 years working in historic preservation, this is probably the most unnecessary demolition I've ever seen,” Georgia Trust President and CEO Mark McDonald says. “A lot of buildings demolished are in bad condition. This one is being torn down to develop the site. It’s very disappointing.”
Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, current Sandy Springs code does not prevent the building’s demolition. The Mayson family, the seller of the site, late last year told city officials they could not afford to restore, preserve, and maintain the manor. Ashton Woods now holds the rights to demolish the property.
“The Mayson family made it clear to the city that the ultimate decision of Glenridge’s Hall’s fate was a family matter,” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul says in a statement.
But McDonald notes that there are several different financial incentives — including a 20 percent federal tax credit, 25 percent state tax credit, and a property tax freeze — available to rehabilitate historic properties. He says many historic properties that get demolished are beyond repair. However, Glenridge Hall remains in “immaculate condition” due to its past owners’ maintenance. The developer could also convert the manor into a community clubhouse benefiting future homeowners or retrofit the property into condominiums.
“To say it's not financially sustainable, there's no argument,” McDonald says. “There's not an interest and willingness to protect the building, only an interest in high development and greed.”
McDonald says Mercedes Benz’s planned headquarters, considered a huge economic development win for Sandy Springs, would not conflict with Glenridge Hall’s potential preservation. Paul, who supports the international car manufacturer’s relocation from New Jersey, says the proposed move did not affect the Mayson family’s plans.
Ashton Woods execs did not return multiple calls for this story. When reached by phone, SES President Tom Wasson says he is unaware of the project.