Design Review Board Considers Demolition Request

posted by Kevin Coleman - 

The future of a neglected downtown building was aired Thursday afternoon. 


In a one-hour hearing for the Design Review Board, the owners of 26 through 34 East Water Street explained why they want  to demolish it, but aren't sure about what to put there...until they hope to redevelop the site. 


Kevin Gillespie is director of Integrated Services.  Their Contract Developer Jeff Mohrman said the submitted plan of  demolition and than a mini-park with mounds and a winding river-like path was just the designer's brainstorming, and they are  open to other ideas like a home for the Farmer's Market...especially if they tie into their business partners' plans on East  Second Street. 


But they said they were confident that if trends continue, they would build a three or four-story affordable housing  development with platform parking that would fit among the historic architecture. Either way, they said the building is  dangerously rotted and would cost a million dollars just to strip it down and stabilize its brick walls, leaving no profit from  redevelopment to fund their nonprofit services and projects. 


Preservationists Jim Barrington, Franklin Conaway, and Josh Barrington argued to reconsider demolition, and consider the  unrealized character of the historical building, how it is a part of the townscape, and possible reuse of parts of it.  Conaway  offered to have a structural engineer with experience with historical buildings give an assessment for free. 


Nearby owner and business partner Ed Kunzelman related his personal knowledge of the building, including how it featured in  his path to founding Petland.  He said he has helped preserve several nearby buildings, but the city should avoid being  insensitive to investors...and time is of the essence


Design Review Board chair Brian Ratcliffe said were not planning to take action yet, and hoped to coordinate a site visit.  


The entire hearing is available below, in three parts.  


Kevin Coleman regularly reports on Chillicothe & Circleville councils and local culture


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