MILTON, Ga. – Much-needed renovations to make the Hopewell House available to the public could cost the city about $700,000, council was told Aug. 13 at a work session.
The Hopewell House, located near the intersection of Hopewell Road and Birmingham Road, could be the oldest surviving building in the area. Documentation dates the house to at least the 1830s, just after the gold rush. Some evidence points to the 1820s.
It was bought by the city for $250,000 in July of last year through a foreclosure, meaning the city got a good deal on the 3-acre historic site.
The problem with buying a private residence and converting it to a public building is that city code is very specific on what is needed for public buildings.
“There’s a lot to do there,” said Community Development Director Kathleen Field. “It needs ramps, ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]-compliant bathrooms, a certain number of bathrooms based on capacity.”
A commercial kitchen is also needed, as well as 10 parking spaces.
In order to help pay for the upgrades, Field said the city is considering committing the building as a senior center. By doing so, it opens the project up for Community Development Block Grants from the county, which by law must be spent on capital improvements for projects devoted to low- or moderate-income families. Seniors count in this demographic.
Field suggested the building could be used as a general community building during off-hours or weekends.
“We would get a lot of use out it,” she said.
Every year, Milton is entitled to CDBG money but has yet to have a project that fits the bill. At $56,000 a year for up to three years, the money could go a long way to helping fund work.
The city would be responsible for finding funds for the remainder of the costs. Donations or corporate sponsorships could be a possibility to help, Field said.
“Those are things to consider as we get a little further down,” she said. “We’ll certainly explore those opportunities.”