Changes to Mebane downtown project outlined; density, number of apts. to be reduced, improving ratio of on-site parking

A developer, whose plans for a large multi-use project in downtown Mebane were voted down last month by the city’s planning board, has submitted several revisions to the project, hoping to win city council approval when the matter returns to the agenda in October.

Mebane’s interim development director Ashley Ownbey updated the planning board on the changes that the city has received since the board voted unanimously, 7-0, against rezoning for the project in July.

The project proposes major changes for a long-dormant two blocks along Washington Street which was the former long-time home of the Kingsdown mattress factory. And last week, the city council agreed to the developer’s request for a delay, until its October 3 meeting, to resume consideration of the proposal.

One building, the so-called “cotton building,” at the corner of Washington and Third Streets, would be preserved.  Other parts of the Kingsdown office and manufacturing facility would be torn down to make way for buildings designed to have retail space on the first floor, with apartments above.

The only former Kingsdown building on the two blocks that is to be preserved is the so-called “cotton building” on the northeast corner of the 200 block. It would serve as a clubhouse for an adjacent swimming pool; and a second story would provide “community space” for residents (of the property and otherwise) to use.

In its preliminary revised plans, the developer has agreed to reduce the density of the project, one of the key reasons for opposition from planning board members and some neighbors.  The reduction also improves the ratio of parking, another of the points drawing opposition last month.

The three proposed buildings along West Holt Street would be reduced from four-stories high to three, with a reduction in the number of apartments from 268 to 217. The two new buildings along Washington Street would remain four stories, with some retail space on the ground floor and apartments above.

However, the retail space intended for the ground level of two of the buildings facing Washington Street would be more than halved, from 21,056 square feet to 9,396.

The effect of both changes will be to have on-site parking sufficient to support the residential and commercial aspects of the project, Ownbey explained to the planning board Monday night, without seeking various contracts with a church and the Mebane library for use of their parking lots; it also will make unnecessary some of the waivers requested by the developer.

Other updated changes to the plan include modifying the internal lighting to be more concentrated within the project, rather than spilling over to adjacent, particularly residential, areas; providing open space on top of the two, four-story buildings along West Washington Street; and adding 10 parking spaces explicitly for electric cars.

The building layout would remain the same, but the three buildings along West Holt Street would be reduced in height from four stories to three. And retail space in the two new buildings along West Washington Street would be reduced.
These architectural renderings were provided during the planning board’s July consideration. The four story height for those along West Holt Street would be cut from four stories to three, and retail space on the ground floor of the two buildings along West Washington Street would be more than halved, to 9,396 square feet. .
The office building (above) and the former manufacturing plant (below) would be demolished under the proposed plans for redeveloping the 200 and 300 blocks between West Washington and West Holt streets. 

See earlier coverage from July planning board consideration of the downtown project:

Read additional coverage of the planning board’s deliberations in July: