The Haymarket Town Council voted Monday to allow a developer to demolish an abandoned, deteriorated home to make way for a new, four-story Hilton hotel.
During its Aug. 5 meeting, the council voted to reverse an earlier decision by the town’s architectural review board to deny permission for the two-story home at 6706 Jefferson St. to fall.
The council heard an appeal by a representative of Haymarket Hotel Venture LLC, then reversed the ARB’s July 24 ruling. The vote was 4-1 with Councilmen Steve Shannon, Madhu Panthi, Connor Leake and Robert Day voting to reverse the ruling, while Councilwoman Bond Cavazos was opposed.
Susan Edwards, vice mayor and member of council, was absent. Edwards has previously spoken in favor of preserving the town’s history as reflected in its older buildings.
Council members walked over to the building during the meeting to see the building inside and out.
“I’m certain it can be rehabilitated,” Cavazos said after the meeting resumed.
She noted the ARB’s vote to deny a demolition permit was unanimous. “What’s the point of having an ARB if it’s undermined?” she asked.
Day said that while “I have the utmost respect for the ARB, I’m not sure this building can be saved.”
Mayor David Leake said, “I see this as an opportunity,” speaking of the prospect of a hotel coming to downtown Haymarket. He noted the words “fair” and “poor” were used to describe the home in two analyses done of its condition, one the developer paid for and the other, an independent analysis, paid for by the town.
"It has been on and off the market trying to be developed for 16 years," Councilman Connor Leake said. "If someone wanted the structure, they would have come forward over the last 16 years."
Shannon said he was “disappointed” a hotel won’t be part of the planned “Crossroads” mixed-use development on property between Washington Street and Interstate 66.
But, “I see advantages of having it in the center of town,” Shannon said, though he said he couldn’t support a six-story hotel as originally proposed.
Ryan Morgan, one of the Haymarket Hotel Venture partners, was granted time during the meeting to describe a revised plan for a smaller, four-story hotel. It would have fewer rooms but retain the meeting rooms and café that were part of the original plan.
Two weeks ago, the hotel partnership withdrew a request for the town’s planning commission to consider a zoning text amendment to allow a building higher than the current 50-foot limit. The move came the day after the ARB denied a demolition permit for the house.
The revised four-story hotel plan won’t exceed the town’s height limit.
Morgan expressed confidence after the meeting that the ARB would approve the building since it is designed to comply with the town’s historic overlay requirements, he said.
The hotel will be built on the lot bounded by Washington and Jefferson streets and Payne Lane that is zoned for business use. It has been owned since 2005 by Payne Development LLC of Florida, the same developer that owns property where six buildings were torn down in May.
Morgan couldn’t say how soon the building at Jefferson and Payne will be demolished.
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com.