During the Design Review Board hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 6 the board approved the design of the new building to replace the former Sirloin Saloon building, except for the proposed name of "Town Center."
The approved building is intended to be a mixed-use building including anything from restaurants and cafe's, to retail stores, said Director of Facilities for Manchester Designer Outlets, Craig Hunter.
The original design of the building was described as a classic vernacular Italianate commercial building, which goes along with traditional Vermont buildings.
"We first started out with a traditional Vermont downtown building, something similar to the Berkshire Bank building, and that is the avenue we went for until we saw a 3-D rendering and really it just didn't look good at that particular sight," said Hunter. "It would probably look good somewhere else, but not there. We retained some of those elements of that design in the store front details and the windows."
Hunter said that the current building is actually too small for that particular sight and that the new building is designed to fit the sight.
"If you drive by the Sirloin Saloon building now, from the west, you are looking at the roof of the building. We think that building is too small for the property," he said. "We think we have a building that we believe is not too big and not too small."
The new building will be approximately 5,900 square feet bigger than the Sirloin Saloon building. The current building is 13,550 square feet while plans for the new building are 19,450 square feet.
According to Hunter, the building is set to have a creamy, off-white body with white trim, and will compliment the overall look of the new downtown since the implementation of the new roundabouts.
One element of the design that seemed to be well received by the Design Review Board was the plaza areas. The plazas are designed for constant pedestrian traffic, Hunter said.
"The plazas will allow for people to come off of the road, sit and relax, and get away from the traffic," said Hunter.
Alan Benoit, of the Development Review Board, said that this new design looks much better and much more inviting for pedestrians.
"The building looks nice, especially with the addition of the plaza areas," he said. "It looks very inviting for pedestrians and it goes along with encouraging a walking community."
Hunter said they are currently working on improving the landscape design that includes adding green space and improving the parking lot area along with removing the utility poles at the southwest corner of the property and at the entrance island to the parking lot.
As a part of the original application, if any historical artifacts are found on site, including marble which was used to create the original building when it was a marble mill, the plan would be to incorporate them into the design of the building.
"We had a review by the division of historic preservation and they found nothing historic in the building," said Hunter. "However, if we find something, some artifact, we are hoping to preserve that and maybe put it is a center-piece to one of the plazas. If we don't find anything the idea has been brought up to put some sort of a plaque somewhere stating what the property was."
There was some concern from the DRB on the proposed name of the building, which was named the "Town Center." The DRB felt that it gave the wrong impression that the town was somehow involved in the project, which it is not. The name was subsequently disallowed.
"It is just a name that Ben [Hauben, whose company, Manchester Designer Outlets, is the owner of the property] decided to call the project," said Hunter. "He thinks that with the town green and the location of the building along with the way it ties everything together that it was appropriate to call the building the 'Town Center'."
Greg Cutler, of the Design Review Board, said that he cannot speak for the entire board, but said that calling the building the "Town Center" could cause some confusion of what the building actually is and that it could possibly be confused with the town hall to those not familiar to the area. "Somehow I think it makes it appear as though it is some kind of municipal building, and I think that is essentially the issue with that name," said Cutler." There might be confusion that it has something to do with the town."
The DRB meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Kilburn Meeting Room at Manchester's town hall.