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Plan emerges to restore Candler mansion and property for senior community 

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Plan emerges to restore Candler mansion and property for senior community 

Emory University and Galerie Living plan to transform mansion into a senior living community at Briarcliff Road and University Drive. Photo courtesy of Galerie Living.

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor

Atlanta, GA — Transforming an abandoned mansion and 41 acres of underutilized land in the heart of Druid Hills into a vibrant senior living community will take about three years, but that’s exactly what Emory University and Galerie Living plan to do. 

Located at the corner of Briarcliff Road and University Drive, just south of North Decatur Road, the land was a working farm prior to being purchased by Asa Griggs “Buddy” Candler, Jr., heir of The Coca-Cola Company. In the early 1920s, Candler began construction on the property which eventually encompassed a 40-room mansion named Briarcliff, a grand ballroom, a swimming pool, greenhouses and menagerie of exotic animals. Briarcliff is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. 

In the late 1960s, it became the site of the Georgia Mental Health Hospital and part of Emory University’s campus in the late 1990s. A library service center will remain in the rear of the property. 

Galerie Living, builder of assisted living residences, entered into a 99-year ground lease with Emory to allow for the property to be returned to the university. With CJMW Architecture, plans to restore the mansion and greenhouses will be spearheaded by Amanda Adams, a historic preservation architect. The old hospital and its underground tunnels will be removed. 

Galerie will build about 500 units: a mixture of cottages, independent living units, assisted living units and a memory care facility. Most of the parking will remain underground to keep the community active.  

Tim Gary, Galerie Living CEO, said he’s building a unique senior living concept.  

“It attracts seniors to accept a healthcare model a couple of years in advance of what they typically would do. In the long run, it keeps everyone healthier and reduces … the quantity of acute care events, and that’s a that’s a big benefit. That’s solving the future financial burden on our society,” said Gary.  

By 2025, the property will become residences and a “destination” for intergenerational gathering. 

“Rarely do we ever get a project like this,” said Tim Gary, Galerie Living CEO. “We want to embrace the mansion. The mansion is very important to us.” 

Gary said opening the property to multigenerational events is important to the health of senior residents. He envisions spaces for continuing education and family events. 

“What would families like to do more than anything? Get around the dining room table. They would love to talk and eat and have the meals that they’ve always had before,” said Gary. “We become the destination point for the entire family.” 

The Druid Hills Historic Preservation Commission will review the plan on July 18.  

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