The 2 buildings are on the west side of Kendrick Park
Despite the prominence of the two local developers involved (Curt Shumway and Barry Roberts) and that of their architect (John Kuhn) and legal counsel (Tom Reidy) the Amherst Historical Commission voted unanimously not to allow the vaporization of two buildings in the north end of downtown that have stood in that location for over 150 years.
John Kuhn, Barry Roberts, Curt Shuway (seated) attorney Tom Reidy (standing)
The main reason being, after 150+ years, they add a texture and feel to the neighborhood that would be forever altered by their destruction. And yes, a good number of neighbors turned out to reaffirm that before the Commission.
Vast majority of audience was in favor of demolition delay
In fact only one person from the audience spoke in favor of the demolition (Niels la Cour) reminding the Commission that Amherst needs commercial development and erecting hurdles via a demo delay only exaserbates the town's anti-business reputation.
Sarah la Cour also submitted a letter on Business Improvement District stationary supporting the demolition. Barry Roberts was of course one of the main architects of creating the BID.
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The developers wish to build a four-story 20,000 square foot office building with possible retail on the ground floor. But not a bar or restaurant, Mr. Kuhn assured the Commission.
The area is zoned limited business which limits the height to only three floors so even if the Historical Commission allowed the demolition the project must still get a Special Permit from the Planning Board to go up the extra floor. That motion would require six of the eight members to vote yes.
Local researcher/historian Ed Wilfert presented his findings to the Commission
Attorney Reidy, after it appeared certain the delay would be enacted, requested perhaps making it only a six-month delay. But the bylaw only allows for a one year delay, and it's all-or-nothing. The Commission can, however, six months down the road lift the delay and allow demolition.
Developers can simply wait out the year and are then free to demolish the buildings or they could try to move them to a new location.
Back in 2007 Mr. Roberts moved the last remaining house on Kendrick Park to a new location on Gray Street.