Commission waits to approve addition

First Posted: 1/21/2009

During an hour-and-a-half meeting yesterday, the Historic Preservation Commission opted to wait a week before making a final decision on whether or not members would approve the design of a new two-story, 5,000-square-foot building that is planned to be added to the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
The board decided to meet again on Jan. 28 to allow three absent board members from yesterdays meeting a chance to review the information and offer input on a decision to approve the building for a certificate of appropriateness. It was mentioned that those board members could not vote since they were not present to see the presentation by the architect, Christopher Price.
Eighteen points of qualification from the Historic Preservation Commission must be met by the arts council to be approved for a certificate of appropriateness. Commission members went over each of the 18 points, and all were met.
The new facility is estimated to cost $600,000 and would be the new home for the Andy Griffith Collection, which is housed in the playhouse. It would also include extra space for many of the Surry Arts Council programs and the creation of an Old-time Music Heritage Hall. The estimated time-line for completion of construction is Mayberry Days 2009, which falls at the end of September.
The time frame of construction, the outer design of the building and preservation of landscape were among the concerns mentioned by the board, with adequate parking space being included by a member of the public, Otis Bud Oliver.
In discussion of its concerns, the board did not ask for additional materials or changes from the Surry Arts Council related to the design.
Price said that at 5,000-square-feet, the new facility requires 17 parking spaces, which would be a part of the construction process, and that the 116 spaces are required for the playhouse itself. The entire 133 parking spaces, Price added, are required to all be within 400 feet of the buildings.
Board member Danny Dollyhigh said he was concerned that the shape and style of the building was rather simple and didnt include appealing architectural elements such as arches.
In addressing the concerns of the board, Tanya Jones, the executive director of the arts council, said that the architect designed the new building to be extremely functional and to work well with the existing land and property. She also said the parking requirements were in compliance with city regulations, and that the simple design of the building would serve as a backdrop for the new landscaping.
In response to preserving the existing land, such as a large 50-year-old cherry tree on the property, Price told the board that planning around the tree would be plausible, but costly.
Building around the tree to preserve it is costly, said Price, adding that tree had reached its maturity. I would recommend to remove it to ease the construction process and replace it with other trees.
Jones also noted that tree has been the source of problems such as its limbs falling on the building during ice storms.
She said that the overall project is costly, and that the council is trying do as much as possible with the available budget, which includes a grant of $350,000 from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, $150,000 from Surry County and $100,000 from a foundation gift earmarked for the project.
Board members said they like the design better than previous ones presented in the past such as one for a $700,000 visitors center that would have housed the Andy Griffith Collection. The plan to build that facility collapsed in late 2007 after Mount Airy officials voted unanimously to reject all bids for the proposed building which turned out to exceed original estimated costs of $350,000 to $400,000.
Following the meeting, Jones said she was pleased with the boards discussion.
I didnt hear anything we needed to change, she said. Im very encouraged by the positive response of the commission. I have been assured by the planning department staff that we are in compliance of all applicable codes including parking.
The Historic Preservation Commission is planning to meet again Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall for a final decision.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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