North Market Tower Proposal Clears First Hurdle
The North Market Tower proposal is one step closer to reality after getting a vote of approval from the Historic Resources Commission yesterday.
Although the project will still need to go before the Downtown Commission and City Council before any work can begin, it’s the first official vote of approval for the building since the city first solicited ideas for redeveloping the North Market parking lot over five years ago.
The approved plan is not significantly different from the concept that was unveiled in September, calling for a 31-story tower that would incorporate an 11,000-square-foot North Market expansion, 170 residential units, 60,000 square feet of office space, a 212-room hotel and a 350-space parking garage, as well as additional bar, restaurant, and retail space.
The existing North Market building will remain largely as it is, and officials have said that vendors will be able to remain open during construction.
Many of the questions from commissioners at Thursday’s meeting focused on the specific materials chosen for the exterior of the building – the commission had weighed in conceptually on the latest design of the project at its meeting in October (and had also discussed an earlier iteration in September of 2019).
The other main focus of discussion was how the new building will impact the row of historic buildings along North High Street that will back up to the project and share the usage of a redesigned North Wall Street.
Zachary Price, who said he was representing the ownership interests of 457, 459 and 463 N. High St., said that the location of the entrance to the main parking garage (which is on Vine Street but very close to Wall Street) could impact the ability of trucks to make deliveries to the businesses.
“We are generally supportive of the project,” he said, “We are just requesting that consideration be made that the approval be held until we can work through those details.”
Another speaker, Josh Greenberg, introduced himself as the owner of 473 and 479 N. High St. He also argued for a delay in the vote, saying that there were still outstanding issues, like when loading and unloading would be permitted along Wall Street.
Similar concerns were brought up at the Downtown Commission meeting in September, when the project was reviewed conceptually.
Representatives of the project’s developer, Rockbridge, told the commission that changes have been made to address many of the concerns of the neighboring businesses, including a commitment to store all of the trash from the High Street buildings in the new building (dumpsters currently line the east side of Wall Street), and to move the footprint of the project back to allow more room for loading and unloading.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the footprint, height, massing, and exterior materials of the building. The applicants will need to return for approval of further items like signage, lighting and landscaping. The next opportunity for the project to be heard and voted on by the Downtown Commission is at the group’s meeting on December 15.
All renderings by NBBJ.