Design Review Board approves new design for former Sirloin Saloon

MANCHESTER - The Design Review Board approved the design of the new building to replace the former Sirloin Saloon building during a hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The proposed name of the new structure - "Town Center" - got a thumbs down reaction from the board, however.

The approved building is intended to be a mixed-use building including anything from restaurants and caf├ęs, to retail stores, said Craig Hunter, the director of facilities for Manchester Designer Outlets, which is hoping to develop the site.

The original design of the building was described as a classic vernacular Italianate commercial building, which goes along with traditional Vermont buildings. However, that idea was changed once three-dimensional pictures of the building became available, Hunter said.

"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 was well received by the DRB was the plaza areas. It does more than just add to the overall aesthetics and the plazas actually are designed for constant pedestrian traffic.

"The plazas will allow for people to come off of the road, sit and relax, and get away from the traffic," said Hunter.

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.

"It is just a name that Ben [Hauben] 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'."

It was then decided by the DRB to approve the design of the building except for the name of "Town Center."

Hunter was not shy on complimenting how well the building looked, especially on that particular sight.

"I believe this building takes elements of a number of different building that exist in town now and comes up with a great solution for a difficult sight to build on," said Hunter. "We worked really hard, we put in a lot of time and effort and we think it looks great."

In other business, the board also voted to approve, by a 4-2 margin, with board member Greg Cutler abstaining, the design of a new library building the Mark Skinner Library's board of trustees is hoping to construct on Cemetary Avenue.

A more in depth story will be printed in next week's edition of the Manchester Journal.


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