Quirk-y: Deluxe hostelry underway on West Main

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The Quirk Hotel would take over historic structures at 501 and 503 W. Main St., including Paxton Place, a home that was built in 1824. Courtesy of the Board of Architectural Review The Quirk Hotel would take over historic structures at 501 and 503 W. Main St., including Paxton Place, a home that was built in 1824. Courtesy of the Board of Architectural Review

Another development planned for West Main Street comes in the form of a Richmond-based, 75-room boutique hotel and art gallery called Quirk. On August 30, an application for the project was presented to the Board of Architectural Review, and neighbors were there to voice their concerns.

“It’s an inevitable thing that the piece of property is going to be used for something,” says Pat Edwards, who was at the work session meeting in which the plans for the four-floor hotel with a rooftop bar were discussed. “We are just desperately trying to protect our corner of Starr Hill.”

The character of historic West Main Street and its surrounding neighborhoods has oft been discussed as brand new hotels and apartment complexes continue popping up along the avenue. Quirk would incorporate two historic structures at 501 and 503 W. Main St., the latter parcel known as Paxton Place, a home built in 1824.

“[Starr Hill residents] don’t really want a building that has its back facing the neighborhood,” says BAR member Carl Schwarz. “They want it to fit in on Commerce Street,” unlike the CenturyLink building that sits with its back to Starr Hill and, as Schwarz puts it, “looms over everything.”

Though Schwarz is in favor of the plans, he says realizing that the hotel needs “two fronts” to please those living nearby will be one of the most challenging parts for developers, and they likely won’t receive the neighborhood buy-in they need without it. The BAR is less reluctant to give its approval if the neighbors also like the project, he says.

Edwards says the city has been “shortsighted” in planning for the boutique hotel and art gallery. “If you build it, they will come,” she says. “If they come, they’re going to need services.”

Those already available aren’t enough to support larger crowds of visitors flocking to the area, she says, and she fears that taxes will skyrocket.

“We’ll be like Albemarle County soon with a tax referendum for $30 million,” Edwards says. “I’m not sure if they really thought long-range about what they’re doing.”

Quirk is owned by Katie and Ted Ukrop—members of the family that operated the Ukrop’s Food Group and upscale grocery store chain in Richmond. The building’s architect is Danny MacNelly, who designed the first Quirk.

But those behind Quirk aren’t the first to attempt to build on that spot.

A previous proposal by local architect Bill Atwood to develop a mixed-use residential and commercial building was approved by the BAR in April, pending additional information that he never brought back. Atwood has, however, voiced his support for the space’s newest venture and says he has been involved with planning the art gallery.

Kelsey Sharp, a spokesperson for the hotel, says no new information will be released at this time.

Down the street at 1106 West Main, progress is well underway on the Marriott Autograph Hotel, anticipated to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

Developer Carr City Centers secured a $25.8 million loan from SunTrust Bank in August to construct the hotel. Michael Wilson, the group’s senior vice president of construction, says the demolition of the existing structure and adjoining parking lot is complete. Temporary supports for excavation will be installed and foundations will be poured in December. The majority of the construction will be completed by the end of next year, he says.

“It’s a constant struggle,” Edwards says about the nearby construction. “Hopefully city officials will be mindful to the character of our neighborhood.”

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