Real estate developer P.J. Feistritzer is seeking a zoning change so he can raze a crumbling historic mansion in Danville, Ky., and construct a self-storage facility on the property. Feistritzer appeared before the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission last week and presented his plans for the 2.5-acre site off S. Fourth Street. Local preservationists who want to save the structure spoke against the rezoning during the meeting.
Board members tabled the vote until their Dec. 2 meeting so they can gather more information, according to the source.
The four-columned brick Greek Revival structure is the Fisher-Byington House, an abandoned antebellum residence designed and built in 1845 by Robert Russel Jr., an architect who developed several of the area’s historic buildings. The property is currently owned by SelfRefind, a drug-treatment center with 20 locations in Kentucky and Ohio.
The firm purchased the property two years ago from First Southern National Bank with the intent to renovate and use it as corporate headquarters. However, the plans were scrapped after discovering the building would need $1 million in engineering and structural repairs, the source reported. First Southern had planned to renovate the structure into a funeral home, but also found it wasn’t feasible, according to James Durham, principal of SelfRefind.
Feistritzer’s purchase of the property is contingent on the rezoning. The mansion’s list price is about $300,000. Feistritzer is the first person to make an offer for the building, according to Durham. “The only buyer for that space will be someone who has commercial interests. It’s not suited to residential development,” he said.
In addition to the Fisher-Byington House, the property also includes five mobile homes, two of which are currently occupied, the source reported. It’s in the shadow of a water tower and surrounded on three sides by the residential neighborhood Highland Court.
The entrance to the property is already zoned highway commercial, with the back portion zoned low-density residential, according to Doug Gooch, owner of AGE Engineering Inc., who presented the plan to the commission. The area behind the property had been originally planned as a large-scale trailer park by the city, but that plan stalled in1995, Gooch said.
“The trend now is to get away from manufactured homes and into traditional housing, stick and stone construction,” Gooch told the commission. “The location is not good for residential housing.”
The proposed storage facility would include three buildings running parallel to Fourth Street. The lot’s trees would remain intact and serve as buffers to the homes behind the property. Pavement would be added, allowing storm-water runoff to flow into a sewer on Fourth Street away from the homes, Gooch said. The facility would also have perimeter fencing with access-controlled entry.
Gooch also noted the low impact a self-storage facility would have in terms of traffic. “It would be less impactful on residents than just about any other type of commercial development,” he said.
The Fisher-Byington House isn’t listed on the National Trust because it’s in the “wrong part of town,” said Mary Girard, reference librarian for the Boyle County Public Library, who spoke against the project. “This has architectural history, and we consider it important to the community,” she said, adding that Walker M. Byington, a former Forkland High School principal anda superintendent of Danville schools, was its most prominent resident.
Durham told the board if the zoning change wasn’t granted, SelfRefind would consider razing the building.
Feistritzer owns Self Service Storage at 469 Denmark Drive, also in Danville.
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