Historic Commission To Reconsider Gay Street Project Next Week

Historic Commission To Reconsider Gay Street Project Next Week
Pictured is a rendering of the building architect Jonathon Selway has proposed for Gay Street in Berlin. Submitted image

BERLIN– Officials are expected to review updated plans for a new building on Gay Street next week.

On Wednesday, April 5, the Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC) will renew its discussion of a new building proposed for 19 Gay St. Back in February, several commission members had concerns the proposed building was too modern and didn’t fit in Berlin. Since then, architect Jonathon Selway has been gathering input from HDC members.

“I look forward to and am excited to see his new rendering,” said Nornie Bunting, chair of the commission. “I’m hoping it’ll be keeping the historic integrity of our charming town with a little bit of his flair.”

In 2021, the HDC approved Selway’s request to demolish the old house currently located at 19 Gay St. He returned to the commission in February with plans for the new building he wants to erect on the site. He said the three-story, mixed-use structure would include commercial and residential space. While his architecture business will occupy half the commercial space, he hopes the other half will be leased as office or potentially art gallery space.

“Our goal with this building is to build a mixed-use structure in the heart of Berlin that provides new exciting housing and business opportunities for this region of the town,” he told the HDC in February. “Our vision for this building is very tied to this district being a little hub for the arts in town.”

While some HDC members complimented the design, others said it needed more historic detail and suggested it needed to fit in with the town’s existing structures.

“It’s our duty to protect the historic nature of this community,” HDC member John Holloway said at the time. “That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s hard for us to sit up here and tell people what we want you to do with your property. It’s really hard. I’d like to see this building have a couple more features consistent with what’s in town.”

Bunting this week said Selway made efforts following the February meeting to consult with commission members individually to better understand their concerns.

“I’m excited to see what he has to offer,” Bunting said.

For his part, Selway is eager for the commission to review the updated design.

“After meeting with each member of the Historic District Commission, we have respectfully made changes to the facade of the building to address their concerns,” he said. “We are confident that our building design compliments and adheres to the Historic District of the Town of Berlin and look forward to the upcoming meeting.”

The HDC will meet April 5 at 5:30 p.m. at town hall. In addition to Selway’s project, the commission will review plans for improvements at The Globe, a proposal for new doors at Jeffrey Auxer Designs and various other requests.

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.