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Gainesville duplex gets first OK to become new Norton office
W.L. Norton Agency received the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board’s recommendation of approval for converting this duplex into additional office space.

A Gainesville real estate and insurance firm got the city planning board’s blessing Tuesday night to convert a duplex near its main office off historic Green Street into additional office space.

The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board recommended approval of W.L. Norton Agency’s request to rezone the nearly half-acre site on Boulevard from primarily residential to residential-office.

The OK comes with several conditions, including that the property has no more than 13 parking spaces.

The matter now goes to the Gainesville City Council, which has final say.

Four people would work in the two-story, 3,738-square-foot building. The property also includes a detached two-story garage and a small detached screened-in sandbox, according to the city’s planning report.

Renovations are planned, including converting 2,205 square feet of the first floor to office space and adding 11-13 gravel parking spaces to the rear of the structure.

In addition, according to the city, Norton “states that the two residential apartments on the upper floor will eventually be renovated for additional office space.”

A fence along the southern property line will be kept, and the fence along the northern property line will be moved in such a way to separate the Norton property from a single-family home next door.

“Other surrounding uses include single-family homes, multifamily apartments and various professional office uses and the Brenau University campus,” the report states.

“We’ve been drawn to the historic and unique nature of this property,” said Frank Norton Jr., president and CEO of The Norton Agency.

The building served as the original Candler Street School before it was moved to its current location in 1905 and converted into a duplex.

Thomas Mitchell, a lawyer representing residents living behind the property, said the area surrounding the property should be kept as a historic residential section.

“I understand the history of the Norton family and all they have done for the city of Gainesville, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they get to do everything they want anywhere they want,” he told the planning board.

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