By David Rogers. February 28, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — There are still questions to be explored, but downtown Blowing Rock may see an aging, dilapidated and vacant building torn down and replaced with something new — if the developers get their final plans approved.
COVER IMAGE: Architect Bill Dixon discusses design elements and features of the proposed redevelopment of 1150 Main Street. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
Sue Glenn, as the Listing Associate Broker representing Blowing Rock Properties, outlined for the standing room only, “neighborhood meeting” crowd in the Town Hall council chamber Tuesday night. The meeting precedes the developer’s formally submitting an application for conditional rezoning. Glenn recalled the history of the building dating back to 1887, its uses through the years as a summer residence, home to an antiques business, and two real estate offices, the most recent of which was her Blowing Rock Realty, which was located in the building for 24 years. She indicated that her firm vacated the building in 2013 due to changing business circumstances and the building’s poor structural condition.
Glenn shared that every attempt had been made to save the building and it had been offered for sales since 1989 with no takers. She indicated that the required renovation is much more expensive than any prospective buyer would be willing to tackle.
Developer Steve Heatherington was introduced to provide an overview of the proposed project, a mixed use structure consisting of retail in front along Main Street, two townhouses at the rear of the property, and some apartment units on the second floor above both the retail space and first floor parking in the center of the project.
Heatherington, along with Mike Trew of Municipal Engineering and Bill Dixon of Appalachian Architecture, described the basic concept for the project and answered numerous questions about the building setbacks, density, and whether the residential units would be sold to individual owners or rented. There is some consideration for the townhomes in the back being sold, but at least initially they and the apartments would likely be available for nightly rentals, through a management company.
Key issues raised, with no particular objections voiced at this meeting:
- The dramatic change to the property given that the building fronting Main St. will only have a 15 foot setback from edge of the sidewalk vs. the current building which is set back an estimated 48 or 49 feet with a “yard” in front.
- Density, which amounts to six units on an 0.3 acre parcel.
- Dark brown color of the building(s) in the renderings
- Metal roof
- Building height, which the developer represented was a foot shorter than the building next door.
Perhaps anticipating the density issue, Glenn provided a handout entitled “Blowing Rock Commercial Use/Density”, which inventoried most of the buildings on Main Street, Sunset Dr, Maple St., and Morris St., as well as one on Valley Blvd. Her inventory list include their current building name, address, the number of units, their current use, the land size, building height, year building, number of parking spaces, and the number of units per acre (density). On the high end, the density was represented as 100 units per acre for the Main Street Gallery (960 Main St.), 80 units per acre for the former Stories Soda at 1077 Main St., 60 units per acre (Barham/JW Tweeds) and the Hanna Family Building, and 50 units per acre for the Ruppert Plumbing building at 194 Maple St. On the low density scale, Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church was represented as 1.56 units per acre, Rumple House at 3.64 units per acre, First Citizens Bank at 1.70 units per acre, Wells Fargo Bank at 1.89 units per acre, Last Straw at 2.08 units per acre, and Town Tavern at 2.40 units per acre.
Heatherington indicated that his development group has scheduled their presentation before the Blowing Rock Planning Board to its April meeting in order to incorporate feedback from the neighborhood meeting and their additional research into the final plans.