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Houses just outside historic district ‘in jeopardy'

  • Friday, August 8, 2014

Monica Kreber/Journal Scene Summerville CPW has expressed interest in constructing an office building on two parcels of property, occupied by two older houses on W. 1st North Street.

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Two houses are “in jeopardy” of being replaced with an office building.

The houses are on W. 1st North Street, near the intersection of Cedar Street, directly across from Parks Funeral Home.

Heyward Hutson, president of the Summerville Preservation Society, said Summerville Commissioners of Public Works is in the process of trying to buy the property being occupied by the two houses. Hutson is concerned CPW will tear the houses down, and such a decision shows “total disrespect to the historic district and what attracts people to Summerville.”

“I definitely don’t want to start demolishing property,” Hutson said.

CPW Manager Charlie Cuzzell said CPW wishes to build an office building on the property if it’s able to acquire it. He said he does not know what the future of those two houses will be, but right now CPW is negotiating a contract to acquire both parcels. Details of the contract are still being finalized.

“We’re trying to resolve some issues because there’s a lot of people involved,” Cuzzell said.

Cuzzell said if CPW is able to acquire the property it will probably move forward immediately to start developing a new office building.

“We’re buying it for a specific purpose and we’ll move forward with that purpose,” he said.

Cuzzell said the reason for the move is because the current CPW building, which occupies a former post office at West Richardson Avenue and Cedar Street, lacks sufficient parking. The building has neither handicap access nor a drive-thru – something, Cuzzell said, customers have requested.

“I don’t know how historic the houses themselves are,” he said. “I can tell you they’re not in very good shape. I don’t think anyone has lived there in years.”

As of right now CPW does not have any architectural designs of what the office building would look like.

“It doesn’t make sense to lay out a building until we know where it’s going to be located,” he said, adding the commissioners will not determine what to do with the existing building until they decide how to proceed with developing a new office location. “The time needed to acquire a site, develop plans and complete construction will take a good while with plenty of time to consider the issue.”

Hutson plans to address CPW on the matter. He said he has concerns about the town not respecting the historic district of Summerville.

The two homes aren’t actually in the town’s historic district. The district ends at the railroad tracks, with the exception of a couple of individual properties that were added to the historic area in recent years.

Hutson also questions this with the town’s plan to build a new hotel near the corner of Cedar Street and Richardson Avenue.

“Nobody in Summerville has had the opportunity to express concerns about these actions to the Summerville Town Council and CPW,” he said. “That’s not the democratic way.”

Hutson said all entities involved are friends of his.

“I don’t have anything personal against any of them,” he said. “I consider all of them friends, but I don’t feel the path they are taking is appropriate.”

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