Thursday, July 24, 2014

Marion Car Park Demolition Hearing May Be Continued to Plan Next Steps

Remember the Hearing Notice for an application to demolish the Marion Car Park at Ferry and Commercial?

Holman Building demolished for
Marion Car Park (bottom)
SHINE: 1950
Tonight the Historic Landmarks Commission will hold the Public Hearing on it, and it doesn't look so very interesting or complicated after all.

When the Hearing notice first came out, it seemed like there was a good chance a demolition would meet the requirements and even be a positive development for downtown. It seemed to have a weak case for preservation.

It turned out the application arose out of a foreclosure and the new owners want to leave a gravel lot in its place. There is no plan for redevelopment.

This is a terrible idea! Not in any way strong enough to overcome a weak case for preservation.

And the Staff Report recommended, as it should, "denial" of the permit.

Since that report came out, there has been more conversation and negotiation. In a Supplemental Staff Report there is talk of one or more third parties interested in redeveloping the site.

Now, City Staff recommend continuing the Public Hearing for nine months to March 2015, giving the new owners time to sell, time to negotiate an agreement with a third party developer, or time to develop some other plan that would put the site to higher use.

It's hard to see a downside to that - and maybe something good would come of it. If nothing comes together, then the Commission can still vote for a straight-up denial.

Also on the agenda is the Virginia Green Award.

The Commission meets Thursday the 24th at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, Salem Civic Center (City Hall), 555 Liberty St. SE.

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