Berlin Building Renovation Project Grounded; Developers Opt Not To Purchase Property

Berlin Building Renovation Project Grounded; Developers Opt Not To Purchase Property
The sale of the property at the corner of Pitts Street and Main Street has fallen through. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Plans for a major downtown building renovation have reportedly come to a halt.

A project that would have included the renovation and restoration of the Burbage properties, which include storefronts on Pitts Street and Main Street, is not moving forward according to town officials.

Mayor Gee Williams said the project, which was proposed by Frank Willing and Chris Davis and received approval from the town’s historic district commission in June, had encountered unforeseen costs.

“I was informed Friday by Mr. Willing that they’d decided not to go forward with the contract,” Williams said. “Apparently once they did their inspections and saw what structural improvements were needed in addition to the renovations they had planned, it just got more costly.”

Willing, Davis and representatives of Keith Fisher Architecture met with the Berlin Historic District Commission in early June to go over plans for the property. They said the building was under contract and that they were going through due diligence before purchasing.

Major Building

The building is pictured currently, left, and shown in a proposed rendering. Photos by Charlene Sharpe, Fisher Architecture

“Quite honestly it’s on my bucket list to do a project like this in a town like this,” Willing told the board. “Not that I’m riding off into the sunset but this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”

Williams said the developers’ decision not to proceed had nothing to do with the town but rather the cost of the project.

“To rehabilitate a building of that size that’s that old is a costly enterprise,” he said. “The figures have to add up when you’re making that kind of major investment.”

Williams said he was sorry to see Willing and Davis step back from the project since it would have taken care of one of the last major pieces of revitalization needed in downtown Berlin.

“Not only am I disappointed, I think many people are,” he said.

Williams said he’d encouraged Willing to look for future opportunities to work in Berlin.

“We’d certainly welcome them to our community,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.