Friday, August 1, 2014
Misadventures in development
Dear Mr. Mayor and Members of Council:
This letter is to express the concerns of the Summerville Preservation Society regarding your plans to construct a four or five story boutique hotel, garage, convention center, condominiums, restaurant, grill, rooftop bar and shops. All are proposed for a site composed of the old Finucan property now owned by the town as well as property to be acquired, including the Laura Jones interior design building and two Stall houses.
The Society is concerned that placement of such a huge multi-story building on that site will significantly and negatively impact the street scene of both Cedar and West Richardson Avenue. Its four or five stories would tower over the two-story 1870s Kornahrens Building, the former home of Mayor Albert Peters, the Wellburn House, the Croft House, as well as two pre-Civil War houses, e.g. the Frank Smith house and the Hutson house. Moreover, the Stall houses and the Finucan house would be demolished according to the town planning staff.
Plans to place this combination of buildings on a busy, congested corner of the historic district represents a lack of proper planning and analysis on the part of town leaders. More importantly, the absence of transparency demonstrated by the shroud of secrecy leading up to a vote to establish a public-private corporation to implement the development plans represents a total disregard and disrespect for the citizens of Summerville and the democratic process.
We do not believe that this was properly vetted and the public allowed to express concerns about obvious problems associated with planting a huge building on this busy corner of the historic district.
In view of the fact that some of the recent endeavors of the town have proven to be less than successful investments, e.g. the parking garage, the Teacherage, and the Finucan property, we urge the council to hold a public meeting as soon as possible to hear citizens’ concerns. Unless the town’s business is conducted in an open and deliberate manner that stands up under scrutiny, we are destined to commit the costly mistakes of the past.
Heyward Hutson, President,
Summerville Preservation Society