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Residents: Developer souring West End flavor

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On the block of Sells Avenue that turns from antiquated streetscape to I-20 entrance ramp, a house has been built that doesn't look like the other houses on the street, a handful of residents complain. In fact, the house doesn't look much like anything in the West End Historic District, they say. And for that reason, it's wrecking everything.

"I'm leading the charge to make sure the builder doesn't build more houses like this one in West End," says neighborhood association zoning chairman Alex Blackmore.

The vinyl-sided, pre-fab, modular structure (described in the builder's city application as a "pyramid-roofed cottage") isn't exactly in the heart of the historic district. But to people like Angela Lain, that matters not. Lain, who has lived for two years in West End and is currently renovating a turn-of-the-century Victorian, says a house like the one on Sells Avenue threatens the district as a whole.

Technically, that block of Sells Avenue is protected by the historic district ordinance -- but only as of a month ago, when the district's boundaries were extended.

"I understand how important this is to stand up for, even on the periphery," Lain says.

"Because if this gets through, it will be hard to stop it from going through on another street."

The house did get through, though, passing the Atlanta Urban Design Commission's muster with a 5-4 vote Aug. 14. The commission ordered the builder, Integrated Development LLC, to take steps to ensure the house has a historic flair, though. And according to minutes from the meeting, the commission denied two other houses the builder proposed for the neighboring lots.

Yet pieces of another modular house were delivered to a nearby lot last week, says Blackmore, who points out that the builder has applied for two additional structures on the even more historic Gordon Place.

"Somebody brought a house, on a truck," says an indignant Karl Webster Barnes, West End historian, "and was backing it into this yard."

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