Douglass Home Debate

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Updated: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 09:20:18 EST

 A historical Macon home is in danger of demolition. That's after the current owner, who is building a Dunkin' Donuts next door says plans to save the building are taking too long.

Lou Patel claims delays in moving the brick Douglass Mansion are costing him big money and won't allow him to open his franchise in time. However, community leaders including Rep. James Beverly say it's a time worthy process and something Patel should've expected.

"Mr. Patel has no desire to tear down the house,” Patel’s realtor Jim Rollins said. “He did not purchase the house until he had a commitment from Dr. Beverly to move the house and the structure."

Rollins claims Patel bought the dilapidated structure to give it to Beverly’s Community Enhancement Authority along with $20,000 to move it. That’s money Patel was going to use to tear it down. He says Patel has pushed back the deadline multiple times and has given a final deadline at the end of August to move the structure.

"Although we understand he needs to get open, he needs to understand that is a very significant historical structure in our community," Rep. Beverly said.

Douglass was one of Macon's first prominent black businessman. He's credited for having the Douglass Theater built in Downtown Macon. However, the home is not listed on a national register and no one's lived in the home for 42 years.  The plan is to move the house closer to Mercer's campus. That though would cost more than $300,000 and includes moving utility lines as well as traffic lights in the area. Beverly said he's trying to raise the money

"We have submitted proposals to raise about 200 thousand dollars and we're waiting to hear back from very strong donors,” he said.

A location is not set but Beverly said the ideal place is across the street from Mercer’s president house. If it moves, President Bill Underwood said the Upward Bound program would likely move into the building.

Macon–Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert said if the home was updated, he’d like the Small Business Development Office to be housed there.

Rollins and Patel are expected to ask The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission's Design Review Board Monday for permission to demolish the house if it isn't relocated by Aug. 30.  

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