Friday, September 15, 2006

At Last, A Vision

Let us turn from the debate about the proposed carry out at the Queen Payne Market — and its tired old business model straight from the 1980s — and focus on other, more exciting projects emerging on the horizon.

The old Sykes auto parts warehouse at the corner of Queen and Henry Streets is now under contract to Dr. Robert Bunn, a Manassas dentist and real estate investor. Dr. Bunn has retained prominent local architect John E. Cole to draw up intriguing plans for the adapative reuse of the 1939 Art Moderne building, featuring design elements that pay homage to the building's past as the Lincoln Theater.

The renovated structure will include commercial office space on the second floor and three 1,000 sf retail spaces at ground level, which could be combined by a tenant to form a single storefront wrapping around Queen and Henry. The design has already been blessed by the Parker-Gray BAR, which approved the project in late July. Dr. Bunn anticipates closing on the property later this year, with construction starting in March 2007 and the building ready for occupancy a few months later.

The Growler talked at length with Dr. Bunn, who identified the Monarch and Prescott developments as key elements in his decision to invest now on Queen Street. He says he has already had feelers from a potential tenant for the second floor offices, and added that a coffee shop was one of the first things that came to mind for the retail space. (He ruled out a restaurant however.)

Of course, nothing's set in stone yet, and like any development project it could fall through at any stage from unforeseen circumstances.

At the very least, however, someone has a vision of what the Queen Street corridor could look like someday, and has proposed a project that respects the neighborhood's past while looking forward to an even brighter future.

And that looks mighty attractive from this Growler's den.

Huffa huffa huffa (happy Growler sounds)!