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Pediatrics group to build at Steak & Ale site

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of doctors is getting closer to building a medical office building at the site of the former Steak & Ale restaurant along MacCorkle Avenue near the South Side Bridge.

But first the doctors need to get a zoning change from the Municipal Planning Commission next week, according to an application on file at the Charleston Planning Department.

Joe Sinclair of ZMM Architects & Engineers has asked the commission to rezone the 2-acre site from I-2 (light industrial) to C-10 (general commercial district). The property, at the foot of the Carriage Trail across from downtown Charleston, is owned by South Charleston Pediatrics, the application says.

The owner wants to build a two-story outpatient pediatric medical facility, covering about 9,000 square feet on the ground level and 3,000 square feet on the second level, Sinclair wrote. He added that "this facility is intended [to] enhance the highly visible riverfront district."

A site plan submitted with the application shows an irregular, roughly triangular-shaped building at the northeast corner of the property, with two entrances off Ferry Street leading to an 84-space parking lot.

South Charleston Pediatrics is now located in the Thomas Medical Pavilion, a medical office building across Division Street from Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston, according to its website. The group has six medical doctors and one osteopath, the website shows.

In a brief interview Monday, office manager Jamie Ray said the company has not finalized its plans for the new building.

"We're really not that far along," Ray said. "Obviously it's going to be a medical office, whether it's one or two stories." The owners are still deciding whether to build and lease space to other tenants, she said.

According to a March 2012 Gazette article, doctors Alatheia Stickler, Melanie Winnings, Eric Jones and Sharmila Jones bought the Steak & Ale site from the Kanawha Roxalana Co. for $1 million, saying they had outgrown their current location. They tore the building down in April of that year.

Ray said the owners were not willing to release a preliminary architect's rendering of the proposed building. She did not return a call Wednesday seeking additional information.

Dan Vriendt, the city planning director, said he didn't have much information to add.

"The only one I talked to was the architect," Vriendt said. "He submitted this work-in-progress site plan. He's not required to submit a site plan."

In rezoning cases, planning commissioners are reminded to consider only the general uses allowed under each zoning classification, not any specific plan for the site.

Medical offices are not allowed in an I-2 district, Vriendt said. "That's why they need it rezoned.

"But we've rezoned other property along there in the past," he said. "To be honest, where it's located there's not any neighbors. I wouldn't expect it to be controversial."

Following more than 20 years of operation, Metromedia Group closed the doors to the Steak & Ale in 2001, saying it was one of its underperforming restaurants. Metromedia Group, also owner of Bennigan's and Ponderosa, filed for bankruptcy a few years later.

The state Lottery Commission soon leased the former restaurant as "temporary" expansion space as it looked for larger quarters. That arrangement lasted 10 years, when the agency finally moved to City Center West.

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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