However, the panel still has to decide whether to allow demolition of an addition to one of the two historical buildings that will be incorporated into the overall project.
“This is such a remarkable project, and the preservation of these two houses is invaluable to the character of Main Street and one of our more important spaces,” said Breck Gastinger, a BAR member and landscape architect.
The 75-room boutique hotel would be the second developed by Richmond’s Ukrop family. A new building would be constructed behind a pair of two-story buildings at 501 and 503 W. Main. This new structure would extend into what is now an empty lot at 423 W. Main.
A conditional approval for the permit was granted by the BAR in October but the applicant has made some changes since then. The applicant also requested the BAR to reconsider its opposition to the demolition of a porch on the northern side of 501 W. Main St.
“This was added between 1896 and 1902,” said Camie Mess, the acting historic preservation planner. “They [also] want the demolition of the west addition on 501 West Main Street, which is from between 1902 and 1920.”
The applicants also made some changes to the massing and added more windows on the eastern side. Since October, the developers have purchased the lot that was formerly occupied by Atlantic Futon.
“It’s probably just going to be an outdoor space,” said project architect Danny MacNelly.
MacNelly argued that the additions at 501 W. Main have structural issues.
Some BAR members supported the request.
“I go back to the bigger picture of appreciating the fact that this could have been an entirely different project where you were asking for a lot more than taking off this little appendage,” said BAR member Stephen Balut.
However, other BAR members were in support of the western addition, which was a doctor’s office in the early 20th century.
“There’s a lot of good reason that we want to honor the history that’s there,” said historian Emma Earnst. “Preservation is tricky. You can choose to either focus on a single period, which is what you’ve done, but what I would prefer is to tell the story. If we peel away all the layers, we’re losing the story.”
The six BAR members present were split over whether to approve the demolition of the western addition. But due to a clerical error, they could not take a vote anyway. The matter will return to the panel in February.
The BAR also made rulings on two other projects on West Main Street this month.
The developers of an apartment building known as Six Hundred West Main sought approval for materials that were different from those originally submitted.
“Since we saw you last, we got pricing back and had a couple of big surprises,” said Jeff Dreyfus of Bushman-Dreyfus Architects. For instance, using stucco would be much less expensive than using materials that had been approved.
The project would see a new mixed-use building constructed at 510 W. Main that would have 53 apartments. The historic structures at 512 and 600 W. Main would remain in place, as the BAR has indicated it would not support demolition. The Blue Moon Diner closed last May on a temporary basis and its owners are hopeful they will reopen when the construction is completed.
The City Council approved a special-use permit to allow for additional residential density for the project in June 2016. The BAR granted its certificate of appropriateness in May.
The BAR also approved an adjustment to renovation plans for the Dinsmore Inn at 1211 W. Main St. The original structure dates back to the 1820s. The owners will no longer need to whitewash bricks on an addition that was made to the building in recent years. They also received retroactive permission to remove two birch trees that became distressed during construction.
Meanwhile, work continues on construction documents for the West Main Streetscape, an infrastructure project that has been underway since the fall of 2013. The firm Rhodeside & Harwell was paid $475,230.23 to develop the conceptual master plan and nearly $1.32 million for a schematic design. The final plans have cost the city $113,842.72 to date but that work is not expected to be completed until late 2019.
The next public step for the streetscape will be a work session with the Board of Architectural Review later this year.