Two-day meeting yields potential condo concept

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

Natchez &8212; The design team that was hired by the Historic Natchez Foundation this week may have been commissioned to help design a set condominiums for the old Natchez Pecan Shelling Co. site.

It seems they designed a bridge instead.

Monday morning, the chasm between those who supported development of a multi-story condominium and those who wanted to protect the city&8217;s preservation guidelines seemed impossible to bridge.

Email newsletter signup

But by the hearty applause and the looks of the smiles on most of those who attended Tuesday afternoon&8217;s unveiling of a new conceptual design for the condominiums, the gap has been closed.

&8220;The development team came to the table with new thoughts,&8221; HNF executive director Ron Miller said to start off Tuesday morning&8217;s session.

In fact, architects from Grace and Hebert Architects started the closed design sessions with a whole new set of drawing &8212; a set many of the designers said were much more in tune with the city&8217;s historic guidelines.

The condominiums, which were originally proposed as a set of two buildings seven stories high, were split into five building six stories high.

Detailed with dormers, ironwork and many other details inspired from Natchez architecture, participants in the workshop agreed the new design offered by the development team was a great start to the two-day workshop.

&8220;There hasn&8217;t been much to change at all,&8221; Miller noted.

The design team did convince the architects to reduce the development by one story. As a result the number of units was reduced to 64.

Because the new proposal tackled many of the big issues surrounding the condo controversy, much of the two-day session was looking at the details and making sure that what was produced met the city&8217;s guidelines.

&8220;It was done in the spirit of cooperation by all parties,&8221; architect Christopher Chadbourne said Tuesday.

Chadbourne also pointed out Tuesday that the building no longer turns its back on the city.

In the conceptual drawing both the Broadway Street and Mississippi River elevations were richly detailed with lacy ironwork, Greek revival columns and other historic details.

&8220;There is no backside to this building,&8221; Chadboure said.

For those with concerns about the public access to the bluff, the architects proposed a 15-foot &8220;riverwalk&8221;

landscaped with benches along the pedestrian path.

&8220;This has set the tone for the rest of the development along the bluff,&8221; urban designer and architect Clifton James, of New Orleans, said Tuesday morning.

Along with drawings for the proposed condos, James and the design team also focused on the entire Broadway Street development.

Some of the changes suggested by the team were widening the road at the north end of the street, changing the flow of traffic to be two-way along the entire street, offering guidelines to other private development along the thoroughfare and suggesting that as much public space be maintained as the &8220;front porch&8221; to the city.

As the meeting ended, developer Larry Brown voiced his support for the conceptual design.

&8220;Mr Worley and I are very happy with this,&8221; he said. &8220;We think it will really be a masterpiece that will get national attention.&8221;

The architects and designers will now take the conceptual design to determine the specifics of the overall project.

Drawings from the workshop will be presented to the public at today&8217;s Preservation Commission meeting at 5:15 p.m. in City Council Chambers on Pearl Street.