Front Row: November 2018 city of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel

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The November public hearing of the city of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel produced six certificates of appropriateness after three hours of discussion.

Some of the agenda items required less discussion, with more clear-cut designs, and approval was granted after only a few minutes of discussion. The revised version of the AC Hotel by Marriott planned for the Camperdown development, however, received significant attention from the panel, and after more than 60 minutes of debate and lobbying by the applicant and supporters, approval with conditions was granted.

200 E. Broad St.

A lower-level renovation plan for the building at 200 E. Broad St. was presented, with the intent of converting the parking garage to rental tenant space. On the lower level, existing louvers would be replaced with windows to match the above levels and exterior changes would match the existing structure and finishes. The applicant, Earle Hungerford of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, affirmed the plans to match the materials and landscape as shown in the renderings.

The building, owned by Joe Pazdan, currently houses Elliott Davis and South State Bank, among other office users.

City planning staff recommended approval with the condition that a landscaping plan be submitted, along with a materials board and a signage plan should the current sign need altering.

Panelist Danielle Fontaine said the plans were a nice improvement to the building.

Panel chairwoman Carmella Cioffi agreed. “I think it’s a great improvement,” she said.

A motion was made as staff recommended to approve the certificate of appropriateness with conditions, and it passed unanimously.

AC Hotel by Marriott

The newest version of the AC Hotel by Marriott to be submitted for consideration brought a lengthy discussion and deliberation that resulted in a majority vote for approval, with one dissenting vote.

The change that posed the greatest problem for the panel was the addition of a bay of rooms on the south-facing side of the building that would narrow the space between it and the neighboring office building from 50 feet to 40 feet. The panel was concerned that the addition narrows the sightlines from Main Street into the Camperdown plaza.

“It’s not the vision to be that we were sold on this project,” Fontaine said.

Cioffi shared a similar opinion, saying that what caused her “the most heartburn” was that seven months ago when the plaza design was submitted and approved, she became invested in the promise of that wide visual approach to the plaza from Main Street. She said the addition would change what the entire team of city staff and panelists had worked on.

“It’s a disappointment for me,” she said.

The applicant, Stephen Fairley, on behalf of the owner, Auro Hotels, along with several other supporting staff, presented the plan with data to show the need for the addition in order to be a financially viable project for the local hotel developer. Adding the 22 rooms would bring construction costs from an unmanageable $350,000 per room to $310,000 per room, which is within the project’s budget, they said.

The Auro team also presented video results of a solar study that showed the tower addition would not cast shadows over the entrance to the plaza as the DRB panel had previously feared.

The four panelists also discussed whether a narrower entrance from the adjacent hotel patio flex space to the plaza was a problem with the design.

“The corner creates more of an interesting focal point,” said panelist Mitch Lehde. “I see merit in both. This is actually a little more interesting from a pedestrian experience.”

When Cioffi asked panelist Bogue Wallin for his input, he hesitated.

“I have lots of thoughts. Only a few are ready for public consumption,” he joked.

He then praised the Auro team for listening to DRB feedback from the previous month’s informal review and making necessary adjustments.

“We have these dimensions already in town,” he said, referring to the 40 feet in between the two buildings. “This feels ok to me. I get your point, but overall I’m receptive to this.”

Ultimately, Lehde made a motion to approve the plans as submitted with the condition that the connection from the plaza to the hotel’s outdoor flex space be either disconnected or re-evaluated, and that particular section of the project would need to come back before staff and two members of the DRB board for approval. Fontaine’s was the only dissenting vote.

405 Westfield St.

Previously approved plans to renovate the former warehouse on the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail into the Blue Ridge Brewing Co.’s second location have been scrapped. Building owner Paula Rallis is now pivoting to create her own event space called Westfield. Modifications to the previous approval that were submitted for consideration include a new painted brick exterior, enhanced landscaping, and additional storefront windows.

Fontaine expressed concern over the practicality of the exterior paint color.

“White will get dirty,” she said.

Cioffi agreed with the concern, but said it was a personal preference rather than a deciding factor.

“I don’t think we can say the applicant can’t do white because of the maintenance,” she said.

A motion was approved to grant a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed plan with the conditions that the final paint color and the exterior lighting plan be submitted to staff for final approval.

Westgate on Wardlaw

The design of a townhome development at 109 Wardlaw St. and 4 Logan St. was approved with little debate and included a cautionary admonition from Cioffi, who urged the applicant to consider the cost of the large windows the panel approved in the design. She said, as often happens, initial plans that the panel likes and approves will end up having to be revised for budgetary reasons after construction costs are evaluated.

In this case the large windows in each unit were a major selling point for the design, and without them, the project would appear less interesting, she said.

The project by Spencer and Taylor Elliott of Set Capital Partners LLC includes six units that will be positioned between the Swamp Rabbit Inn and the Academy Street property that recently sold to a senior-living developer.

Lehde mentioned the nice brick articulation included in the design.

“I think it’s a delightful project,” Fontaine said.

Cioffi commented that the railings at the top between the units bothered her because of the continuous eye line it allows, but the rest of it looks great, she said.

A motion was made and passed to approve the project as submitted.

815 and 821 S. Main St.

The mixed-use project housing a non-traditional hotel, restaurant, event venue, and parking at 815 and 821 S. Main St. that was presented informally in October’s DRB meeting received approval with conditions that the developer screen the parking garage to shield residents across the street from car headlights in the parking garage and that the trash area and transformer be enclosed. Those two designs will need to be reviewed by two members of the DRB for final approval.

Additionally, a lighting plan for the parking garage, signage for store fronts, and any public artwork that would be significantly different than as presented would need to return to staff for approval.

Kathy Shell, a resident who lives above the street-level retail offerings that include Bex Cafe and Juice Bar, spoke during the public portion of the hearing to express her concern for the potential of car headlights pointing straight into her residence, and also the noise that could become a problem from the rooftop pool and event venue.

1 Augusta St.

An informal review of proposed paint colors and new awnings for the three contiguous buildings at 1 Augusta St. preceded the formal review of the application to paint and redesign the awnings in the center storefront. Currently known as the Emporium, which sits between the Smoke on the Water and Mellow Mushroom restaurants, the center brick storefront will receive a new paint job and metal awnings. With that central space’s color and design now approved with the condition that the final slope of the awning return for approval by staff, the panel recommended the applicant vary the color and awning style of the two surrounding storefronts to keep with the playfulness of the design guidelines for the West End.

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