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Update on Chatham Center Project

Back in June I posted about the Chatham Center project. The developer of the Project, Larry Jones has been gracious enough to share updated renderings and information with me for posting on this site. Here’s the main excerpt from the e-mail:


A friend sent me the link to your blog and your article on the Chatham Center. I’ve added it to my list of sites I check on a regular basis. Good information is just as important as developable land, financing and a functioning government when it comes to redeveloping urban areas. It is unfortunate that the “functioning government” is the loose nut in the package. Keep up the good work on the info part on the equation.
I’ve owned a dozen different properties in Chatham Arch over the last 24 years (which just makes me old). I am also a former resident who no longer lives downtown but I still own several of these downtown properties. In 2000 I purchased the former VAMACO Building (919 N East) and the former Riley Nursing Home (901 N East).

My primary goal was to move out of the smaller 2 & 3 unit residential rental apartments and into larger commercial properties. The VAMACO Building was remodeled and the brick facade was added to create the new BABECA Bldg. The Nursing home was cleaned up and renamed the Chatham Center. A variance was obtained to allow for the property to be leased as a series of small offices for artist and business use.

The next project is to renovate the Chatham Center into a mixed-use project.

A very long story made very short is that your summary of the issues is pretty much on target. The Historic Districts as they become more developed / gentrified / desirable also become more conservative. A lot of the comments I receive against the project reflect the suburban upbringing of the newer residents. “Commercial uses are bad, they attract people & traffic, which must be bad for property values”. As you are aware a study of the facts shows this assumption to be incorrect but often the newer residents have no idea what the difference between a “suburban” and “urban” environment is. The discussion of the issues often falls on many a deaf ear.
I’ve attached the Elevations, Floor Plans and Renderings of what I hope will be approved at the Sept 5th IHPC Hearing. We have had multiple meetings with the CANA Neighborhood Members and did a directed mailing to the 60 neighbors who are in the line of sight of the project. The discussions and suggestions at all levels have actually made for a better project.

He included 3 pdf files with the e-mail. Click on the pictures for a larger image:

9 Responses to “ “Update on Chatham Center Project”

  1. CorrND says:

    If Chatham Arch ends up axing this proposal, they are IDIOTS. Aside from parking issues, it would be practically impossible for this development to be any more considerate of the area immediately around it.

    I forget, but this building is to have around 8 or 9 residential units, right?

  2. Anonymous says:

    HELENA—-This project would be good for chatham arch, those who are agianst it, need to get over it, an only residential, smalltown neighborhood cant exsist long when you are within a few blocks of downtown. Welcome from suburbian, to urban!

  3. Kevin says:

    I counted 11 residential units…they’ll be rentals.

    We’ll have to see what the IHPC says…I’ll be out of the country during that meeting, hope I can find out about it somehow.

  4. & DAGGER says:

    The north facade looks like a school.

    The south facade leaves much to be desired. When are developers going to stop proposing (in essence) blank walls?

    I’d love to see the roof-line have a bit more interest, perhaps like the building to the south. It’s a bit boxy.

    It’s a mediocre development opposed for the wrong reasons.

  5. & DAGGER says:

    The north facade looks like a school.

    The south facade leaves much to be desired. When are developers going to stop proposing (in essence) blank walls?

    I’d love to see the roof-line have a bit more interest, perhaps like the building to the south. It’s a bit boxy.

    It’s a mediocre development opposed for the wrong reasons.

  6. Kevin says:

    It is a bit boxy, I agree, and the semi-blank wall to the north could also use some work. I still like the design overall. I like the “school” look. And no matter what, it’s better than what is there now.

  7. Teagen_Devlp says:

    The Buildings lack of design detail and overall “boxiness” are a result of the rendering software used to create the presentation pieces. Computer aided design is terrific for showing mass, scale and site placement but limits the amount of detail that can be presented. The true color, texture and detail of the proposed materials is not available as part of the graphic standards supplied with the rendering software we have used.

    I’ve encountered this problem before where the level of expectation for the design details begins to exceed the the time and money available to create them. As a Developer you are trying to provide as accurate of a presentation package as you can while constantly adjusting it to meet different requests and maintain a cap on the design expenses. The details are usually what suffers.

    If we can get the project approved at the IHPC Hearing the next step is to complete the architectural drawings and details for the project. As part of obtaining the final IHPC “Certificate of Appropriatness” for the project is a review of the materials and construction details fot the proposed building and site. It is at this point that we can begin to focus on creating the design details that will give the facades more life and the building more interest.

    The primary goal is to create a building whose use and design adds value to the neighborhood. If we can get the mixed-use format approved for this project we believe the proposed Chatham Center renovation will meet this goal.

  8. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Larry.

  9. Nanette says:

    I don’t understand what the Chatham Arch neighborhood association is thinking…

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