Front Row: October 2018 City of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel

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Falls Walk rendering provided by Johnston Design Group.

Nearly three hours in to the public hearing, a request for pizza and a martini came from two panelists on the City of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel.

That’s what happens when a deceptively short agenda, which seemed to indicate a shorter meeting, is too good to be true.

Two formal applications for review, along with three additional-informal presentations took about three hours on Oct. 4 to wade through, between lengthy presentations, public feedback in support and opposition, and thorough panel discussions. The result was two certificates of appropriateness and mixed feedback during the informal reviews.

Falls Walk

The 12-unit townhome development proposed for 102 Oneal St. received its certificate of appropriateness after an overwhelmingly positive informal review at the September public hearing.

Prior to the DRB meeting, the applicant, Falls Walk LLC, which includes developers Terry Birch and Willz Tolbert, met with the residents of the neighboring development, the Brownstones on Rhett Street, and received extensive feedback that they incorporated into the design presented to the panel.

The subdivision of the property will still need approval by the City of Greenville Planning Commission before moving forward, but there is no indication that won’t also receive approval.

Scott Johnston of Johnston Design Group represented the applicant during the public hearing and presented product samples of the different materials planned, including the brown-range tumbled-style brick and white terracotta tile.

“It’s a good interpretation that is somewhat refreshing and new,” said panelist Robert Benedict. “I think it’s a good approach.”

River Street Sweets

The proposed exterior renovations of 12 S. Main St. where River Street Sweets is supposed to open this fall have caused considerable concern and difficulty for the panelists since the design was proposed at the August DRB.

That design was approved, but applicant Lisa Warriner returned this month with a new plan based on difficulties removing the stone facade of the former YAP restaurant. Planning staff recommended the proposed signage be made smaller, returning it to the previously approved size.

Previously, the panel was sympathetic to Warriner’s desire to keep the renovations within her budget because she as tenant is undertaking the renovations rather than the landlord. The new design calls for retaining the stone and tinting it a darker color to blend in with the proposed paint color on the upper part of the building.

Warriner said a new plan became necessary because her contractor is concerned that removing the stone could cause structural damage to the building that she would not be able to address because of financial limitations.

The owner of the neighboring building at 14 S. Main St., Frank Whisnant, spoke in opposition to the new design, calling it “ridiculous” and saying the DRB panel has strayed from its purpose of evaluating appropriate designs on Main Street regardless of the financial constraints of the applicant.

“If you can’t afford to do something appropriate on Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina, you should take your project elsewhere,” he said.

Between rebuttals from both sides, panel chairwoman Carmella Cioffi issued a warning.

“I would like to keep the insult throwing to a minimum,” she said.

The previous design approved for Ottaray Seafood & Raw Bar, which never materialized, returned the storefront to a more historic version than the current design. Rendering provided by Greenville On the Rise.

As in the August DRB meeting, panelist Benedict again brought up the previously approved design from November 2017 for the Ottaray Seafood & Raw Bar concept for the same space. The design then was believed to be historically accurate, removing the stone facade and replacing it with a wooden storefront.

“I think we’ve gone astray now and this is just kind of a Band Aid approach,” he said, adding that economic hardship should not be under the DRB purview.

He reaffirmed his approval of the Ottaray design and its returning the storefront to the original state and questioned how this new design falls within the downtown design guidelines.

“Now we’re allowing [a design] that’s taking a couple steps backwards,” he said.

Ultimately, the panel approved a certificate of appropriateness for the application as presented with a condition added by planning staff concerning the size of the proposed sign. Benedict was the one dissenting vote out of four.

Informal Reviews

A hotel development with street-level restaurants has been proposed for a narrow tract of land at 821 S. Main St. Rendering provided by Wakefield Beasley & Associates.

821 S. Main St.

A new mixed-use project proposed for the property across from Bex Cafe and Juice Bar will maximize the use of a narrow tract of land if it moves forward. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Durban Group is proposing a multistory, non-traditional hotel with rooftop pool and event space and two street-level restaurants with built-in parking.

The design, presented by Matt Mitchell of Wakefield Beasley & Associates, blends traditional mill architecture with modern elements for a design that fits with the other nearby developments. The design calls for multiple murals, one of which will cover the entire back side of the building which sits on the property line.

The restaurants, which will feature an extensive outdoor patio area, will be operated by one owner whose identity was not disclosed. Details that were discussed in the public session were that one concept will be geared towards breakfast and the other will have a pizza oven. Ted Barnes, development partner with Durban Group, declined to discuss details on the project until more plans are finalized in the next 30 days.

The panel was generally positive about the design, and suggested a few changes including smaller-scale arched openings on the ground floor and possibly enclosing some of the exterior dining patio areas to allow for year-round usage.

A retail and apartment development has been proposed for a busy corner in the Village of West Greenville.

Pace Jewelers mixed-use

Frank O’Brien of O’Brien Commercial Real Estate presented a plan for a mixed-use development at the corner of Pendleton, Irvine, and Branwood streets in the Village of West Greenville.

A parking lot and the current Pace Jewelers location sit on the property owned by Steve Pace. The plans call for razing the store and building a less-than 40-foot-tall development that would include a new 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot Pace Jewelers location, a space for an additional retail tenant, and 14 apartments above. Two of those units will be two bedrooms while the remainder will be studio lofts.

The required parking for the development will be an angled lot between the new development and the former We Took to the Woods candle shop.

O’Brien said it’s Pace’s goal to invest in the community that has supported his business for 60 years and provide housing in the Village at a price point that “should be palatable for the target market.”

The DRB panel urged O’Brien to communicate to the architect the need to look at the playfulness of the exterior paint colors used in the Village and use that as inspiration for the design. The basic rendering presented to the panel was not detailed enough to make many judgments, they said, but they liked the idea of the development on the corner of the area’s main retail corridor.

The AC Hotel design has been modified numerous times since this rendering was submitted in February. 

AC Hotel

The AC Hotel in the Camperdown development at 305 S. Main St. has gone through numerous revisions, and yet another one was presented for informal discussion. This time, the operator, Auro Hotels, is looking to add more rooms at the south elevation, pushing the wall out approximately 12 feet.

The proposal was met with sharp opposition from both panelist Danielle Fontaine and Cioffi because of the narrowing effect it would have on the entrance to the public plaza.

“It makes the stairway to the plaza less appealing,” Fontaine said. “I don’t really like it.”

The applicant has the choice to continue with the previously approved design or go back to the drawing board and attempt another addition for the panel’s review.

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