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Emory University's Briarcliff Mansion hotel plans unveiled

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Thankfully, preservation of the existing building is central to the new incarnation, though costs will be "extraordinary"

The rebirth of the Briaricliff Mansion into a boutique hotel moved one step closer to reality this week, with developer Republic Property Company releasing plans for a 54-room venture near Emory University.

The company filed a 33-page application for Certificate of Appropriateness with the DeKalb County Historic Preservation Commission, highlighting a planned overhaul for the property with design by Smith Dalia Architects.

In the document, Emory University — the mansion's owner — relinquishes development rights to Republic. The document also notes that costs to execute the restoration are "extraordinary," explaining why the mansion cannot be simply restored, but converted to a money-making hotel.

For those concerned about the historic integrity of the property, the submitted documents include letters of support from The Georgia Trust, the DeKalb History Center, and the Druid Hills Civic Association. So Republic has done its

history homework.

As for nitty-gritty details, 15 guest rooms will be housed in the restored mansion, along with events space and a restaurant. Cottages scattered around the property and a three-story "pool house" adjacent to a large events lawn will contain the remaining hotel rooms. All of the buildings will sit considerably lower on the site, preserving the view of the mansion from Briarcliff Road.

Around the grounds, plans call for the restoration of one of the mansion’s original greenhouses; the other, more dilapidated greenhouse will be swapped for a pool. Other items slated for restoration include the original pool fountain, the property’s perimeter granite wall, and retaining walls on the site.

It seems likely that the plans will get the necessary approvals, given the amount of work that has gone into the preparation of documents. If that’s the case, work could start early next year.

Overall, it sounds like a unique lodging destination.