Historic preservation commission to consider Broadway development

Body to consider if Trestle Crossing is appropriate for historic district

Fred McCormick

The Black Mountain Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday,, Aug. 16 will consider whether a proposed development in the town's historic district satisfies existing guidelines.

The 6 p.m. meeting will be at Town Hall.

The five-person board will review an application for a certificate of appropriateness submitted by the developers of Trestle Crossing, who say the three-story building and accompanying renovations to the historic building at 128 Broadway Avenue will enhance the area. The commission's monthly meeting, typically a low-key affair, is expected to draw a large crowd of residents with varying opinions on the building. The three-story height of the proposed development is key among some residents' concerns.

Chapter three of the town's historic district guidelines pertains to new construction in the district. It focuses on setbacks and lot orientation, size and scale and materials, design elements and rhythm.

The perspective rendering of Trestle Crossing created by Osgood Landscape Architecture that will be presented to the historic preservation commission on Aug. 16 depicts a roof height similar to the Town Hardware and General Store, according to the designers of the project.

The guidelines allow for infill development on existing sites downtown, while ensuring "the district's architectural and material vocabulary is respected." The guidelines states that "the height, the proportion, the roof shape, the materials, the texture, the scale and the details of the proposed building must be compatible with the existing historic buildings in the district."

Black Mountain architect Maury Hurt, who designed the building, served on the historic preservation commission in the early 2000s and reviewed the the guidelines closely before designing Trestle Crossing.

"I was familiar with the guidelines' general requirements," Hurt said. "As recommended in the current updated version of the guidelines, we studied and adapted the original storefront forms and proportions present in downtown. We also used adaptions of a variety of details from those buildings."

Hurt will present to the historic preservation commission a perspective rendering of the project created by Asheville-based Osgood Landscape Architecture that looks south down Broadway from where the street intersects with State Street. The slope on the southern end of the road allows the building to remain in scale with existing architecture, he said.

"The fact that the site of Trestle Crossing is near the bottom of the hill that runs down Broadway from State Street is one of the keys to the taller three-story structure, remaining visually in scale with the one and two-story structures near the top of the hill," he said.

The town's zoning requirements limit building heights to 40 feet (44 feet with parapet roof) in the central business district, which encompasses the historic district. Hurt maintains that the slope on the southern end of Broadway keeps the building in scale with nearby buildings while allowing for the full amount of height allowed by the land use code.

"As part of our study on the older buildings along Broadway we asked the surveyors to survey the actual elevations along the tops of the parapet walls of the existing buildings along that block," Hurt said. "As currently designed, the elevation at the top of the northeastern corner of Trestle Crossing, at its juncture with the Mountain Vista Properties building (next door), is 2,413.56 feet. By comparison the elevation of the top of the parapet wall at the corner of the Town Hardware building is 2,413 feet (above the entry door at the corner of Broadway and State Street). In other words, measured against a perfectly level line between the two buildings there is less than six inches of difference in elevation between the highest points of these two structures."

Longtime Black Mountain resident David LaMotte has heard opinions in support of - and in opposition to - the development. He's concerned that the size of the building will dominate the space.

"Maury Hurt has made a great effort to make the building blend in, but there's no getting around the size of it," LaMotte said. "If it really, really needs to be this big in order to be commercially viable, I would love to see it a block or two away, maybe behind Henson's or across from (Black Mountain Primary School), but not in the heart of the historic district."

LaMotte noted there are strong opinions among people in the community about the development. He encourages speakers at Wednesday's meeting to be respectful.

"A community isn't made from bricks, it's made from relationships," he said. "There are good and smart people that I love on both sides of this issue, and if we destroy the fabric of relationships in the community in order to push through our position, pro or con, I think we will have sacrificed the greater for the lesser."

The development has been widely debated in local social media groups and was the subject of a community meeting at the White Horse in mid-July.

Black Mountain-based brand management firm Kudzu Brands took on the role of managing communications related to Trestle Crossing, which is being developed by Joe Cordell, founder of the St. Louis-based law firm Cordell & Cordell. Cordell and his wive Yvonne founded the firm, which now has more than 100 offices, in 1990. The Cordells own two homes in Black Mountain.

Murphy Funkhouser Capps and Heather Hawkins Johnson, owners of Kudzu Brands, took on the development's communications "for several reasons," they said in a statement.

"We were pleased that the developer, who needed brand and public relations services, wanted to put resources for that effort into the local economy instead of using an outside agency who did not understand the dynamics of our town," they stated in the statement. "The projects we accept do not just support us. They support 10 local employees, and their families, as well as the many local businesses we are proud to call clients."

Joel Osgood, the principal landscape architect, said Trestle Crossing as presented to the historic commission "takes cues from the historical, physical, cultural and ecological context" of the site.

"I believe Maury has done a fantastic job utilizing existing visual cues from the surrounding architecture to conceive of a building that is appropriate in scale, proportion and architectural detailing that is appropriate for the space," he said. "I strongly believe that appropriately scaled downtown development and adaptive reuse in urban cores and downtowns is far more favorable than development on lands that should be protected for views, wildlife habitat and passive recreation."