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Changes at former DeWitt Clinton Hotel get Commission nod

November 6, 2013

by Jose Romero

The entrances, storefronts and windows will all be renovated or replaced at the former De Witt Clinton Hotel downtown, under a proposal submitted to the Historic Resources Commission Wednesday.  The plan was presented by real estate agent for Columbia Development Companies, Brandon Stabler – representing Daniel Hershberg, managing partner of Hershberg & Hershberg. Many of the improvements are part of the design for the new Renaissance by Marriott, the luxury hotel which will occupy the property at 144 State St.

While he said the preliminary designs resembled the eventual final product for Marriott, he asked that the commission refrain from taking action.

Brandon Stabler presenting proposals to the commission.

Brandon Stabler presenting proposals to the commission.

“It would be kind of premature to put something up here for you to approve when the Marriot may not even want it,” said Stabler.

The Historic Resources Commission, led by Norman S. Rice, gathered to ensure that the renovations maintained the historic integrity of the properties discussed.  “I’m concerned at what the conservationists will have to say,” said Rice in response to the proposed changes to the exterior of the De Witt Clinton.

Stabler said he had spoken to the conservationists, elaborating on discussions that he had had with them, and hinted that they were in favor of the planned renovations. He also assured the commission that new designs would likely reflect the character of what was there previously as opposed to creating something entirely new.

“At the end of the day, we will probably end up with something similar to what’s there,” said Stabler

Commission member, Lee Pinckney, motioned to approve the proposed work under the assumption that the building would be properly cleaned and maintained and that repairs were within regulations. The motion was met with a unanimous decision in favor of the proposed work.

A second proposal by Stabler and Hershberg to rebuild the properties at 132-149 State St. and 67 Howard St was also approved. The storefront properties would be redesigned to house apartment complexes as well as an office space for IT consulting firm, Aeon Nexus.

The storefronts have seen many alterations since their initial construction in the 1920s; however commission member Pinckney proposed that these changes already made to the building remain along with those historic designs.

A glance at the State Street properties to be updated.

A glance at the State Street properties to be updated.

“Significant changes to the buildings should be kept… the storefront window, even though it has changed, outlines the history of the building,” said Pinckney.

The commission approved the plan providing that any further redesigns be brought back before the commission. The storefronts were to undergo necessary redesigns for the purpose of preservation and renovation, while attempting to limit the amount of disturbance to the nearby groups. Initial construction involving utilities had already taken place with limited resistance from the neighboring communities.

“It’s been a challenge to get utilities into these buildings without disturbing State Street but I think we have succeeded,” said Hershberg. -30-

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