I received a call this week from a reporter and then realized that I haven’t posted an updated in quite some time. Here’s a summary of where things stand with efforts to save the Jane Parks McDowell House:
- In October, the Charlotte city council approved the rezoning plan, which would allow BNA Homes to build townhomes on the site. BNA Homes is not the current owner of the site but they are under contract to buy the property that the McDowell house is on. The approved site plan calls for moving the McDowell house from its current location up closer to S. Tryon.
- The new parcel of land is around .25 acres in total size, which means it’s insufficient for commercial use of the structure (the lot isn’t large enough to support the parking requirements required for a property of this size).
- The Charlotte Mecklenburg Landmarks Commission has been out to assess the property and rendered the opinion that the property has historic significance. However, in the Charlotte City Council’s approval of the site, they did not make it a requirement that the house has to remain nor is there a requirement in any prior deed.
- Current estimates obtained to move the house and restore it are in excess of $1.2m. We are still working to find a more reasonable cost to restore the property but this is a major undertaking given the current state of the property. Over the last year, the house has been broken into numerous times and folks are continuing to enter and steal from the property such as the weights from the windows.
There have been questions as to why there isn’t fundraising taking place to start this process, which is fair. The idea is to work through an existing non-profit to raise funds instead of launching one specifically for this project. This also saves the time and expense that starting one takes. All agreements and conversations have been with BNA Homes up to this point and they do not own the property yet. BNA is scheduled to close on the property in late summer 2017 however that’s tentative. If they don’t close, it’s back to square one with the current owner.
At this point, I’m not sure what the way forward on this project is and I’m open to suggestions. BNA has no interest in making it apart of the new community since the maintenance in perpetuity could be burdensome to their HOA. My initial thought was this would be a great space that could be rented out or used by groups like the Steele Creek YMCA however without adequate parking, that doesn’t work. Also, sites like the Vanlandingham Estate, which have more parking, are struggling to stay operational so this may be an issue for this site as well. As a stand-alone historical site, my calls to the Charlotte Museum of History and the ASC revealed that our local schools aren’t investing in field trips to historic sites, which has left all of these groups fighting for support dollars.
Its appeal as a single family house is even more limited since it would front a major roadway, sits below a busy flight pattern, and will be a house that will have virtually no yard to speak of.
Ideas and suggestions are definitely welcome.