Developer seeks to renovate another Main Street building

MOUNT JACKSON – A former town councilman involved in several developments plans to turn a large building on Main Street into apartments.

The Planning Commission first heard on Monday a request from Todd Holtzman for a special-use permit to allow him to develop the property at 5791 Main St. into commercial apartments. Holtzman advised the commission about his plans for the property before the panel agreed to schedule a public hearing on the permit application for Oct. 4.

Holtzman plans to renovate the property inside and out into nine apartments. The building occupies roughly a quarter acre and currently houses apartments and a flea market. The owner of the property is listed as 5791 Main Street LLC. The application identifies Holtzman as the manager of 5791 Main Street LLC.

Former Town Manager Charlie Moore, who helped Holtzman with the application but does not serve as a partner, also spoke to the commission about the project. Moore said the property has housed apartments, space for storage, an auto parts store and a gas station. Many businesses along U.S. 11 struggled to succeed, he said, and this building housed flea markets and consignment shops. The apartments remained in use and served as the support for the property. Meanwhile, he said, the condition of the building deteriorated.

The renovation should not only increase the property’s value but also bring more people into town, Moore said. The design removes any retail component of the property and makes the entire building residential.

Holtzman said he worried that the site would not provide enough parking spaces if he kept the retail space in use. The property does provide enough space for parking if solely used as apartments, he noted.

“This building has really been sort of an eyesore for a long time and I think this will make quite a difference to the central part of downtown as you drive through, probably the most notable difference of any of the Main Street projects that I’ve done,” Holtzman said.

A preliminary design of the proposed renovation presented by Holtzman shows the group of connected buildings as one unit. The project would add sidewalks to three sides of the building and a grass buffer in the front of the property along Main Street. The limited space in front prohibits the planting of trees. The flat roof would be replaced with a pitched roof no higher than 35 feet.

County online information shows the most recent assessment valued the property at $146,000. Holtzman bought the property from William and Michelle Emph for $140,000 on April 10, county property records show.

Information included in the permit application notes that the property, best known locally as the Estep Auto Parts and Commercial Apartments, operated for more than 40 years. Holtzman plans to completely refurbish the structure with a goal of making the property a “much more economically viable venture and to significantly enhance the appearance of the building.”

“These improvements are intended to enhance the downtown retail customer base and expand the mixed use vitality of Downtown Mount Jackson,” the application states.

Holtzman does not intend to expand the existing building or add any new structures. Rather, the project would gut the interior, strip the exterior, add new roof lines and roofing, create nine commercially managed rental units and redesign the outside on all sites to enhance the structure’s appearance as seen from Main and Gospel streets.

As Holtzman states, the architect took four adjoining buildings with disjointed architecture and brought them together as a single unit that blends into the downtown streetscape. The application states that the design follows the town’s adopted Main Street guidelines.