Attempts to make construction progress on the tarp-draped downtown Maryville building that houses Brackins Blues Club were stalled this week after an architect for the project did not show up to a city meeting.
The Downtown Design Review Board met Monday and was set to address and vote on an application for a new second-floor facade to replace portions of the collapsed 112 E. Broadway Ave.-facing wall.
Designs for the new wall showed a pattern similar to the one existing before May 12, when a part of the wall just above Brackins fell off, followed by the second story wall days later.
Windows, arches and bricks are set to match the design, the city’s senior planner for development services, Kelly Duggan, told board members. “This is more of a restoration than a renovation.”
Duggan showed images of both the new proposed design and the design from the earliest image the city had of the building in 1910. The building originally had divided windows, but the new design proposes single-pane windows.
This and other details prompted questions from the board, but the architect that Duggan said was supposed to be at the Monday meeting to answer questions was absent. Duggan said he had indicated he would attend, but simply did not show.
“I would make a motion to not approve this,” board member Sarah Shepherd said. “If we’re fixing this building, we need to fix the building.” She later added the building need to be fixed “right” in order to maintain the historic look downtown.
Shepherd said it seemed as though the new design did not have as much detail as the original, though she added she could not put her finger on precisely what needed to be changed.
“I have a problem with approving it going back to what it looked like before because that would not have been something that would have been approved before,” Shepherd said.
Added board member Suzette Donovan: “Was it the architect’s mission just to put back exactly what was there? There’s nothing clever about what was executed for the new building. What are we doing?”
“We can’t answer that because the architect’s not here,” board member Gary Best said. “And so we should probably just defer this to the next meeting.” Best said that the board could speculate on plans, but would not have clarity on the issue until members spoke with the project’s designers.
City Planner Jordan Clark asked the board the reasoning behind its delay, noting that the building is not in a historic zone. “What exactly is wrong with what they’re proposing to do on the second floor?”
Clark said he noticed minor details in the proposed repairs but did not find any large discrepancies between the original design and the new one besides the single-pane windows.
“We need to separate what the ordinance says by the letter of the law compared to our own wishes,” he told board members. “There’s a lot of things we’d like to see happen to the building, but the question is what can we actually enforce on somebody.”
Board members and development services officials alike acknowledged the design proposal was for the second-floor architecture, not the first floor where some board members said a broad, long blank space seemed too flat and empty.
But concerns remained.
“I’ve got loads of questions about this,” Donovan said after lengthy discussion on the building’s future.
Though planning staff had approved the design and insisted everything met requirements, the board voted to move a vote on the building’s new design to August’s meeting based on the architect’s absence.