The Denison Historic Preservation Board denied approval for facade and storefront renovations for a new nail salon and tea bar at 317 W. Main during its monthly meeting Tuesday. In voicing disapproval, members of the board cited concerns that the proposed changes would jeopardize the building’s contributing status to the city’s downtown historic district.
This is the second time that the board has disapproved of changes at the site in 2018, following a request to replace the existing recessed arcade entrance with a new straightened entrance. The new request kept the existing arcade entrance, but instead removed period tile front the facade in order to add doors to multiple suites.
“The ultimate goal of the applicant is to split this into two suites down stairs and lofts upstairs,” Planning and Zoning Manager Steven Doss said. “We are moving closer to getting somewhere, however staff still has strong concerns about removing that blue glass tile or the glass on the columns.
During Tuesday’s meeting, prospective property owner Peter Tran said he planned to split the property into upstairs lofts with two smaller suites downstairs, each with their own individual entrances. In order to do this, Tran said he planned to replace the front glass and remove part of the facade on both sides of the entrance to create two doorways for the second suite and loft entrances.
As a part of this alteration, the blue tile on the facade would be replaced with Austin stonework and the front center column would be removed entirely. While meeting documents referred to the column as glass, Tran said it was just plastic, and was already damaged and needed to be replaced. Tran added that some of the blue tile was cracked and damaged and should also be replaced.
Doss said that city staff was opposed to this, as it would involve removing some of the defining character of the building and its past as a storefront.
“I agree with Mr. Doss in that adding doors on both sides is unacceptable,” Chairman John Akers said.
In response to the initial request, the city consulted with the Texas Historical Commission to determine whether the changes would jeopardize the building’s historical status. Officials with the commission recommended that the storefront remain in its current state.
“We do not recommend approving this design,” the commission’s response letter states. “The existing storefront is a nice mid-century design. The setback and layout are characteristic to this time period and therefore, a character-defining feature.”
Instead, the commission recommended that Tran should start renovations with his plans to remove the slipcover on the second floor instead.
“Any new storefront needs to take into consideration the existing upper facade to reflect the basic architectural forms of the building and context,” the commission said in its response letter. “A new storefront designed irrelevant to the upper facade does not meet this requirement as described in 2.01 and Guideline 3.1.”
As an alternative, Doss and city staff recommended creating separate entrances inside the existing entryway as a way to separate the entrances while also preserving the exterior features. However, Trans said he was against this as it created empty, wasted space inside the building.