A sizable step toward having second-story apartments in downtown Clinton officially received the unanimous go-ahead this week by City Council, which also approved incentivizing the establishments of such dwellings.
The City Council unanimously approved a conditional use request by Burgess Group Consolidated, LLC, to operate multi-family dwellings at 104 Fayetteville St. in a CB-Central Business District, finding the request met all five conditions for a conditional use. The Planning and Zoning Board previously gave a unanimous nod.
The request was made by Vince Burgess, who talked at the Council’s Tuesday night meeting about the project, which has already resulted in preliminary renovations at the Henry Vann building, the previous Landes Office Solutions property.
The project is expected to result in the creation of up to nine second-story residential units, with the first floor remodeled for commercial use and permitted separately. The building includes 9,728 square feet of existing structure. Parking will be in the applicant-owned 12,700-square-foot parking lot to the west of 104 Fayetteville St., which can accommodate roughly 30 spaces, Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose noted.
Burgess said through the project he wanted to continue improvements being made in the downtown. He pointed to work already completed, and said the conditional use was the next step before a design for the project and more construction followed.
“It’s just the opportunity for something different,” Burgess told Council on Tuesday. “I think there’s a lot of momentum downtown, which I’ve been a part of and certainly a lot of other people have been a part of.”
Burgess noted that an official plan has not been engineered as of yet, but that he has engaged those who did the design for the American Tobacco Campus to help redesign the Henry Vann building.
“We have constructed a rooftop deck over the top of the building,” said Burgess. “We need to get through this process to see if it was something that was in the vision of the city.”
The existing 100-year-old elevator will have to be removed and replaced. A new elevator shaft has been installed, but Burgess said the priority was to stabilize the building first before going in and overhauling its historic guts.
“It was becoming dire to where it would have been a structural issue,” Burgess remarked. “The roof was gone. Termites had eaten it up and there was roof rot.”
The second story was completely gutted, and the roof replaced at the end of 2014 and extending to the beginning of 2015. However, aside from its roof, the steel and concrete Henry Vann building is intact. Built in 1920, it is a concrete and steel beast. Burgess previously talked about the building’s strong foundation.
“This was by far the best building to do this. It makes sense,” Burgess said. “You have support issues with wood. There’s a cost savings when you don’t have to put in those supports.”
There will be three floors, with the ground floor anticipated to include retail, the second being residential and the third being the top constructive rooftop deck, “similar to something you might see in Wilmington or Raleigh, just smaller in scale than that,” Burgess explained.
A commercial elevator and stairway for the future residents will be installed and Burgess said he is hoping there will ultimately be 5 to 7 apartments in the upstairs portion of the structure. The downstairs portion that previously housed Landes Office Solutions will be transformed into retail, he said. Large glass doors will take the place of the garage doors.
Burgess has said the second-story residential would fill a large void in downtown Clinton and this past winter noted that he anticipated the project would be finished within two years.
“As I’ve stated a hundred times, one of the biggest draws to Clinton is the collective nature of that downtown,” Burgess said. “We have down a lot better job than most towns.”
That has included developing a sweeping incentives program that includes numerous ways for new and existing businesses to recoup a portion of their costs — utilities, facade improvements and renovations among them — in relocating and starting up their new enterprises in the downtown.
Those incentives now extend to mixed-use development, with city staff developing a program to assist property owners and developers and encourage new commercial and residential uses. The program, approved unanimously by Council, will assist property owners by waiving the water, sewer and fire line connections fees up to $5,000.
Burgess talked about the moves the city has made in recent years to build up the downtown and the recent transformation that has seen new and improved businesses take root in the historic heart of Sampson, with still more to come.
“What I want to try to do is keep up with what other towns are doing so we draw people here from other places,” Burgess stated. “That’s kind of the intent of all the projects we’re involved in.”