After the annual break in July, the agenda for the city of Greenville Design Review Board Urban panel held Aug. 2 was lengthy, as were discussions about two projects in particular hinging on the historic significance of the original designs.
Projects receiving a certificate of appropriateness with little discussion were new signage at the Shoppes at Gower, 1607 Laurens Road; signage for Independence Corporate Park at 1 Independence Blvd.; and improvements to the side entrances and storefront of the Pinky Building at 7 W. North St.
The majority of the meeting was spent on the remaining three items — the proposed J.McLaughlin storefront, design of the new River Street Sweets storefront, and a request for an unreasonable hardship exemption for the brick office building at 200 E. Camperdown Way.
The storefront renovations for 207 N. Main St. where clothing retailer J.McLaughlin has signed a lease were approved with conditions. The proposed plans presented previously in an informal review were revised as follows:
Rather than replacing the entire metal-and-glass storefront, the current framing from the former Ten Thousand Villages location will now be painted blue with a durable, long-lasting paint, and signage will be installed above the awning over the entrance rather than painted on the awning itself.
The applicant, Ted Pronel with J.McLaughlin, said the owner may decide to change the color of the proposed blue awning to a turquoise.
Approval was granted with the condition that if the awning color changes, it will need to be approved by two members of the DRB.
“Happy to see the addition of color on Main Street,” panelist Danielle Fontaine said.
She also recommended the applicant observe other light-colored awnings along Main Street to see how dirty they get because of tree debris.
River Street Sweets
The second proposed renovation for the restaurant at 12. S. Main St. in less than a year, this newest plan is for the River Street Sweets franchise Lisa Warriner plans to open in the fall.
In this instance, the tenant is taking on the renovations with no financial assistance from the landlord, which was key in helping the panel come to a decision to approve the application for a certificate of appropriateness with conditions.
After being presented with photos of the original storefront, the panelists were conflicted as to whether or not the proposed design, which is not returning the storefront to the original, should be approved.
The proposed design will remove the current stone façade and paint over the existing mustard color with a lighter, less-jarring tan.
Fontaine expressed concern that for a candy shop, the color palette seemed so neutral.
“I’m happy to see the mustard go away but not all the color,” she said.
Panelist Robert Benedict reminded the panel of the previously approved Ottaray Seafood restaurant design, which was closer to the original storefront.
“This seems like a step back,” he said.
Ultimately, the design was approved with the conditions that a different color scheme be considered, the front window sill be lowered as far as possible to match neighboring storefronts, the cornices above the entrance be widened to provide more balance, and the applicant return with changes for approval by two DRB members.
200 E. Camperdown Way
Having previously been denied permission to paint the existing brick on the office building, the applicant, Leah Buttry, on behalf of the building’s owner, Jural Partners LLC, submitted an application for an unreasonable hardship exemption.
City planning staff recommended denial of the application, and ultimately, the panelists followed suit in a 3-2 vote, with the three architects on the panel voting no.
Buttry explained, with photos as evidence, that the 50 years of water stains on the light brick could be remediated only with painting it. The current appearance of the building was a deterrent to landing long-term tenants, she said, and with the proximity to the future Grand Bohemian Hotel, it could become an eyesore at one of the main gateways to Falls Park on the Reedy.
Panelists Benedict and Bogue Wallin were more sympathetic to the applicant’s plans, while panel chairwoman Carmella Cioffi and Fontaine recommended pressure washing as a means to clean up the current staining.
Cioffi said the current problems are likely a result of deferred maintenance that painting would not fix.
Fontaine was adamant that the brick and style of the building be preserved for historic reasons.
Panelist Mitch Lehde was doubtful as to whether or not the applicant had demonstrated an unreasonable hardship and was the third dissenting vote.
Wallin argued that the building needs to be repositioned in the marketplace and the image of the building has to be brought up to be competitive in the market.
Benedict echoed those sentiments acknowledging that the office market in Greenville is tough right now and pointing out other examples of painted brick buildings nearby.
“It’s arbitrary given the number of buildings that have been painted in the CBD,” he said.