A developer who plans to build a low-rise apartment complex on Clipper Road in Woodberry backed off plans to demolish two stone buildings from the 1840s.
The buildings now will be incorporated into the design in a nod to the area’s historic nature and preservation minded neighbors who had expressed concerns about the demolition plans.
The latest renderings for the project, released Thursday, show modern construction built around the old houses. One house could become part of the lobby as well as a lounge or other space for residents, and the other could become a little shop or office space.
“We hope any project we build is liked by the masses, though we don’t expect every single resident is going to love everything we do,” Kuo Pao Lian of PI.KL, which designed the early rendering. “We sought compromise. ….In this rendering we seek to integrate the building and have the new and old buildings have a symbiotic relationship and work together.”
Neighbors raised alarms earlier this month when demolition notices went on the buildings.
Lian said instead of saving the houses, the developer, Chris Mfume, managing partner of CLD Partners, planned to strip away more recent additions completely but salvage old stones from the main houses at 3511 and 3523 Clipper Road and use them as an architectural feature.
That design would ensure the stones remained but allow the most efficient use of the slip of land between the road and the Light Rail. The complex was to include 60 to 80 mostly studio apartments renting for $1,100 to $1,300 per month
The city has rezoned the area for transit-oriented development because of the Light Rail, encouraging developers to build spaces for more residents. Lian said they see the apartments as appealing to those who use public transportation, bike and ride share.
As a compromise with neighbors, with whom Mfume has been meeting, the plan now is to keep all four walls from each building. There still could be surprises, as the houses have been added on to and renovated and had been vacant for years.
The developer has no obligation to save any part of the buildings, though they are part of the Woodberry Historic District and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Neighbors, who plan to meet with Mfume again on June 19, said they are happy to hear the developer was working on a new design. They have said the historic look of the old industrial area, along with its stone and brick buildings, are a big reason people want to live there.
“I appreciate Chris Mfume’s meeting with us … and his willingness to incorporate the stone houses in his plan,” said Christy Bergland, who lives across the street from the apartment site and was among neighbors who have met with Mfume. “These houses embody the iconic history of Woodberry.”