LEWISBURG — Defying the economic malaise that grips much of West Virginia, this small town continues to steadily grow within its 4-square-mile bounds.

City zoning officer Chuck Smith offered a glimpse into developers' plans for additional large-scale construction projects at a Tuesday evening city council meeting.

Reporting from this month's meeting of the Lewisburg Planning Commission, Smith said a site plan now stands approved for the relocation of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car business from the Greenbrier Valley Airport in Maxwelton to a parcel of hitherto undeveloped land along U.S. 219 next to the city's northernmost Shell gas station.

In addition to a parking lot, Enterprise will build a maintenance garage and a rental office on the premises, Smith said.

A second site plan was approved for the expansion of Morgan Manor, a three-story brick apartment building on Austin Street for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Smith said the apartment building is now under new ownership.

Plans call for the building's residents to be moved from section to section in the structure as the $2.5 million renovation and expansion project proceeds, Smith said.

Planners also reviewed a sketch plan for yet another downtown housing development, this one targeting students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM).

A sketch plan allows developers to present preliminary concepts to the planning commission in order to obtain feedback before finalizing a full site plan for a proposed project, Smith explained.

The sketch plan presented by Lee Street Partners LLC proposes repurposing the former Lewisburg High School and Elementary School as apartments, efficiencies and arts-related business spaces, Smith said.

Phase 1 of the development would involve the creation of 19 efficiency units, each measuring 400 square feet, and Phase 2 would center on creating 15 one-bedroom apartments, according to Smith's report. He said information provided by the newly-formed development company indicates the modest housing units would be marketed to WVSOM students.

The old high school building faces Lee Street, with the several decades-younger elementary school tucked behind it. A parking lot that offers access to the entire school complex feeds onto GMS Drive — formerly Greenbrier Road — just across from the WVSOM campus.

Lee Street Partners registered with the West Virginia Secretary of State's office in February. Documents there show the partnership's organizers are John Hirt of Covington, Va., and Michael Christie of Lewisburg.

Smith said the developers have already asked to have a review of their site plan for the former school on the planning commission's May 4 agenda.

Also expected to be heard at that meeting is a site plan for expansion of Greenbrier Motors' northern Lewisburg location, Smith reported.

A site plan review that had been scheduled for the planners' April meeting for the nonprofit GROW Project's proposed conversion of the former Bolling School into a youth recreation center was withdrawn due to property boundary issues, Smith said.

— Email: talvey@register-herald.com

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