Hotel still seeks its COA on Square

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2016

By Reid Posey

The Chancellor’s House boutique hotel was the topic of discussion Monday night at the Courthouse Square Historic Preservation Commission.

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The ongoing development, located at the corner of South Lamar Boulevard and University Avenue, continues to seek its Certificate of Appropriateness from the commission.

After last month’s meeting, developers for the Chancellor’s House were told to come back with new designs for certain aspects of the hotel, such as the brick for the hotel’s exterior and columns, the materials and design of the railing, and their choice of pavers.

Prior to the meeting, commissioners voted on their favorite option out of an assortment of brick samples, which resulted in an overwhelming consensus on a “Monticello Blend” design. Commissioners could not remember on the spot if this style is found on any other building around town, but they all agreed that the choice was undoubtedly consistent with the town’s general aesthetic.

What is railing?

The majority of the evening’s discussion, however, focused on railing. From the beginning, project manager Tom Stone had to clear up what the commission meant by “railing,” as he thought that they were referring only to the fence surrounding the property, and not to the Juliet balconies that also were included in the plans for the hotel.

Stone thought that the designs for the Juliet balconies had already been discussed and approved, even though the same design for the perimeter fence had been rejected, but several commissioners agreed that they had no recollection of expressly approving the Juliet balconies.

Ultimately, Commissioner Donna Gottshall voiced her opinion that, after seeing the changes in the brick design, she actually would prefer for Stone to go back to the style of the Juliet balconies for the fencing as well in order to give the hotel a more uniform aesthetic. Many of the other commissioners agreed with her decision, similarly citing the change in brick as a significant factor in their decisions.

Stone already had brought in a new sample design for the fence, and for much of the duration of the discussion, debate centered on the proposed height of 42 inches for the fence, with several commissioners questioning whether a dimension around 36 inches would be more effective.

“I’m not sure that where the fence is along the sidewalk (on the South Lamar side) that a 42-inch height is necessary to provide a friendly barrier between the public and private space,” said Commissioner Tom Howorth.

Stone, however, remained adamant that because the fence had to be 42 inches along the University Avenue side, as its positioning on the street requires it to act as a guardrail, that the rest of the fence should match its height to maintain a level of symmetry.

Howorth and Commissioner Judy Riddell agreed that variations in height along fences is nothing out of the ordinary and that rarely is a space flat enough to warrant a uniform height across the board, but Commissioner Bill Turner eventually sided with Stone, saying consistency in dimensions would be more aesthetically pleasing.

As debate on the railing wrapped up, Stone then presented their preference for the pavers, opting to go with a smooth natural limestone, also known as “Indiana limestone.”

After a few minutes of discussion about the choice of pavers, Turner motioned to approve the plans for the brick design on the hotel’s exterior and columns, the design of the Juliet balconies, the plans for a railing 42 inches in height and consistent with the same design as the Juliet balconies, and the limestone pavers, and the motion passed unanimously.

The next meeting of the commission, usually scheduled for the first Monday of every month, has been moved due to next month’s Independence Day celebration and will instead be held on Thursday, July 7, at 5 p.m.