The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 31, 2013

Fayetteville panel mulls project

FAYETTEVILLE — Members of the Fayetteville Historical Review Committee say they need to see more details before approving plans for “The Henry Street Project” in historic downtown Fayetteville.

“We like the looks of it but (the developer) has to go in steps and present things in detail before we can proceed,” says Dennis Hanson, chair of the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission, which also serves as the Historical Review Committee.

The Henry Street Project, spearheaded by Fayetteville merchant Adam Stephens, is a new commercial development centered around the historic Ankrom-Dickerson house on Court Street.

It includes the renovation of the 1870s-era home and the creation of a new one-way street lined with 29 parking spaces.

The long-term vision includes new retail and office space, a multi-story commercial building with a rooftop terrace, a fountain, public art, performance space, and public green space.

Hanson says certain issues need to be resolved before the town can consider approving the plan. So far, they’ve only seen a draft of the overall project by designer Tag Galyean.

Missing pieces of the puzzle include scale drawings and engineering reports showing the location of utilities; a detailed survey of the property; a lease agreement with the Board of Education for a portion of the property; and easements for other property owners involved in the development.

At its recent meeting, the Planning Commission tabled the matter for further discussion at an unspecified time.

“Through the meeting we both decided to seek counsel to further identify what needs to be done and in what capacity it needs to be done and what regulatory things are going to need to be put in place,” said Stephens.

Hanson says it will now be up to Stephens to “get his ducks in a row” before the commission can proceed.

One big question is how to get Henry Street itself built. Currently, Stephens owns most of the land intended for the street, and the Board of Education owns a small strip.

But the town can’t build a road on private property, so it must either be sold or gifted.

“I have not seen or heard any dollar figure expressed from the developers on that,” says Fayetteville Superintendent Bill Lanham. “Or if he’s offering to give the property to town, I haven’t seen anything in writing. That’s basically what we would require.”

The town is getting ready to go into its yearly budget session, and Lanham says that with all the variables involved -- building roadbed, paving, streetscaping, sidewalks -- it could be an expensive project to take on.

At the meeting, Stephens said that at this point he’s not interested in selling the property to the town because there are too many restrictions. He says no one has tried to reopen the discussion.

But one way he says the town could help would be to work on sidewalks and drainage in the project area.

Work is proceeding on the renovation of the Ankrom-Dickerson house. Despite stumbling blocks that come along with renovating any historic structure, Stephens says the project is going “great.”

“This house has been so neglected through the years that there’s a lot we’ve had to rebuild and fix. We’re finding that a lot of the historical stuff has been stripped, but what we do find, we’re trying to save. Every day is figuring out the puzzle of how to rebuild it so everything matches,” he said.

The upstairs will be ready for occupancy in about two months, according to Stephens. The downstairs, which will house a coffee shop, will take longer because of the custom design. Proprietors are hoping for a May opening.

In order to be in compliance with new wastewater management guidelines coming through the pike in 2014, Stephens is working on ways to reduce runoff through permeable paving.

This year he says he’ll be graveling, grading, coming up with designs, and raising funds.

“I would like to see him make a go of it because it would be beneficial for the town,” says Hanson. “But there’s just some steps he needs to go through because we can’t go across certain lines. But we’re willing to work with him.”

For more information on the work of the Historical Review Board, see Article 1331 of the Fayetteville municipal code, available at http://www. conwaygreene.com/municipalCodes.htm.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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