Revitalization proposal unveiled for Mathews C.H.

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jan 19, 2011 - 03:51 PM

Photo: A detail of Walter Alford’s revitalization proposal for Mathews Court House shows the location of residential units on both sides of Main Street, a water tower across from the current Christie Auto Care and a tidal basin. Image by Hopke & Associates, Inc.

A detail of Walter Alford’s revitalization proposal for Mathews Court House shows the location of residential units on both sides of Main Street, a water tower across from the current Christie Auto Care and a tidal basin. Image by Hopke & Associates, Inc.

Walter Alford, partner in the development company HARC LLC, talked to the Mathews Planning Commission Tuesday night about his vision for revitalizing a portion of downtown Mathews.

Explaining to commission members that he hadn’t yet purchased the property involved and that he wouldn’t go forward with the purchase if they came up with strong initial objections, Alford laid out a proposal that would begin with demolishing part of Christie Auto Care and turning what was left into mixed retail, residential and bed-and-breakfast use.

He further proposes building a 16-unit townhouse or duplex structure with garages in the parking lot behind Christie’s and, in a cooperative endeavor with Scott Riley, turning two buildings he owns behind Chef Todd’s and Stewart’s Carpet and Tile into residential or mixed-use structures with parking below and garden units above. Riley would be responsible for that aspect of the plan, said Alford, but it would all be one tightly-controlled project.

The proposal also calls for placing four duplex units on property across Main Street that long served as Christie’s used car lot and building a water tower on the rear of that property to meet code requirements for water sprinklers. He said that there are well sites available to provide water for the tower and for the buildings.

A suggested layout for the land where the HRSD sewage treatment plant currently sits is included in the proposal. Once the plant is removed, said Alford, the property could be converted into a park and the county could create a tidal pool on the property in lieu of dredging Put-In Creek for a turning basin, which has long been proposed for the site. He said he understands that such a tidal pool wouldn’t require a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Finally, Alford suggested a joint public/private effort to benefit both his development and the county. He said that the retention pond he would need for his development could be placed on county property and serve as a water feature for the county park. To offset the loss of land, the wooded land he would own between the townhouses and Put-In Creek, which is in the Resource Protection Area, could be part of the public park. He also suggested that the county revamp the county parking lot, which would not only help with traffic flow for his proposed development but would also add landscaped islands and parking spaces for public use.