City commission gives brewery, car service company get initial OK

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

Members of the Williamsburg Planning Commission have recommended City Council pass proposals for a new car repair company and a restaurant-brewery.

The company wants to demolish the Days Inn at 1900 Richmond Road and build a Firestone Service Center.

The Firestone would use about 7,700 square feet of the 52,950-square-foot property. Pavilion wants to divide the rest of the property among other tenants.

"Obviously, the property there now, I would consider a blight on the city of Williamsburg," said George Sheild, an executive vice president at Pavilion Properties. "That's no disrespect to the current owners. We're replacing something that's functionally obsolete with something that is an attractive property."

Because the property sits adjacent to a Hampton Inn and Suites, commission member David Julien said he was concerned with the amount of noise that could come working vehicles throughout the day.

"We're going to have a lot of racket coming out of there," he said during a May 17 commission meeting.

Sheild said Firestone company policy mandates that its sites keep its garage doors down during the day and rotating fans to keep workers cool.

Virginia's warm weather combined with that policy concerned the commission members, who were uncomfortable with how warm the building could get.

"If it's a closed-door situation, that's a bit of an antiquated setup," said Julien, who is president of a car dealership on Richmond Road and was the only commissioner to vote against Firestone's proposal.

"It's not necessarily what I would have chosen for that part of Richmond Road," said commissioner Jeffrey Klee. "On the other hand, we don't get to choose the businesses."

The Amber Ox Kitchen & Brewery asked for a special-use permit to operate at 525 Prince George St. The commission voted 4-0 to recommend City Council approve the request. The business needs a special-use permit to operate in that part of the city.

Andrew Voss, an Amber Ox partner, said their company seeks to take advantage of a trend he's seen outside of Williamsburg.

"As we all know, the craft beer experience has really thrived over the last 15 or 20 years around the United States," he said.

"It's a perfect addition to the downtown area," said commissioner Andrew Edwards. "It's exactly what we are looking for."

"Folks in town are really going to be happy with it," said commissioner Elaine McBeth.

City Council will make the final decision on the companies' proposals at an upcoming meeting.

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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