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Pediatricians get rezoning for new offices across from Haddad Riverfront

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston Pediatrics got the green light Wednesday to build new offices across from Haddad Riverfront Park, but only after their architects promised to design an attractive building.

"I'm very excited about this project," said Mary Jean Davis, a member of the Municipal Planning Commission and Charleston City Council.

"My concern is I hope the building is designed to face MacCorkle [Avenue], so when people are sitting across the river they see something attractive ... that they say 'I wonder what that beautiful building is.'"

Adam Krason of ZMM Architects and Engineers said the owners planned to do just that when they picked the site, once the home of the Steak & Ale restaurant.

Joe Sinclair of ZMM had asked the planning commission to rezone the property -- a 2-acre lot between Ferry Street and MacCorkle -- from I-2 (light industrial district) to C-10 (general commercial), because professional offices aren't allowed in industrial zones.

"South Charleston Pediatrics intends to utilize the property for their practice," Krason said. He described a 12,500-square-foot building -- partly two stories, partly one -- for the group's eight pediatricians.

"They understand that is a prominent site, across from Haddad Riverfront Park. They intend to build a visually attractive building.

"It will be similar to the [West Virginia] Housing Development Fund building, which we designed," Krason said. "The building will help shield parking in the rear.

"The pediatricians will be on the first level. There will be tenant space on the second level -- office space, similar to the pediatricians.'"

Despite the detailed discussion of the building plans, rezoning requests focus only on possible uses of the property under the new zoning, not on plans of the current owner.

Planning Department staff notes warn the commission: "Proposed uses should be treated with care, because once rezoned, any use that is permitted within the district would be permitted 'by right' with no review by the Commission."

Planning commission members approved the rezoning unanimously, with no one else speaking for or against the plan.

Later, commissioner J.D. Stricklen brought up the project again.

"We may need to think about some kind of protective apparatus, like in the East End," he said. "It's a high-visibility area. You have to be ahead of the curve."

But Aric Margolis, an architect who serves on the commission, warned about setting more restrictions. City zoning regulations already make it hard for some to build the type of projects the public would prefer, he said.

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


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