Old Berlin Home Demolition Approved

Old Berlin Home Demolition Approved

BERLIN – Redevelopment on Gay Street is set to continue with the demolition of an old house and construction of a mixed-use building.

The Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC) on Wednesday approved the demolition of the vacant house at 19 Gay St. Commission members voiced support for the developer’s plans to replace it with a mixed use building similar to the one housing Pop’s Kitchen next door.

“I think the best thing to do is tear that darn house down and put something better there,” commission member Robert Poli said. “That would improve the whole street.”

Jonathon Selway of R&S Investments LLC told the HDC the house at 19 Gay St. was in poor condition and that he and his partners wanted to tear it down. Because the lot is zoned B-1, he said they wanted to construct a mixed use building that would feature commercial space on the ground floor and residential units above.

He said he’d been inside the house multiple times and shared pictures of the interior conditions with the commission confirming the need to raze the unsafe structure.

“Nothing’s level,” he said. “The subfloor’s spongy. The value is in the lot and the zoning. If we can’t redevelop on the property, it doesn’t make sense from an investment standpoint.”

Carol Rose, chair of the HDC, agreed. She said the house was likely built in the first part of the 20th century and has not been maintained.

“There’s certainly no historic value to the home,” she said.

HDC member Nornie Bunting said he felt demolition was appropriate in this case.

“I think that’s your best choice,” he said, adding that the commission would play a role in reviewing future construction plans for the site. “When you get into rebuilding, we really want to check that out then.”


A concept rendering is pictured of the redevelopment plans for 19 Gay St. in Berlin.

Poli said that the purposes of the HDC included improving property values, fostering civic beauty and strengthening the economy. He said replacing the existing structure would benefit the entire street.

Selway agreed, saying the intention is to continue to improve the street and the town.

“We want to develop a really nice building that fits in and complements some other cool things that are happening in that area,” he said.

Rose said properties in that area had been rezoned several years ago to encourage redevelopment.

“My hope is, however many years it takes, when we close Jefferson for 2nd Friday, we can close Gay and we have the whole area,” she said. “I’m just really excited.”

The commission voted 3-0 to approve the demolition request.

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.