The first floor of the buildings at 321 and 323 S. Salina Street would contain 5,500 square feet of restaurant space and the remaining four floors would consist of 16 apartments. The lobby of the proposed Whitney Lofts would be along Bank Alley along with a second entrance on South Salina Street. The basement of the building is planned to contain a 1920s “speakeasy”-style bar.
The developers, Ryan Benz, Leigh Ann Boatman-Benz, Steve Case, and Dr. Shashank Bhatt, are estimating the cost of the project to be $4.2 million. The architectural company on the project is Dalpos Architects and the general contractor is Rich and Gardner.
The building they’re planning on renovating was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The location has been home to many retailers and businesses and is in an active part of town. Considering that 56% of millennials and 46% of baby boomers choose to live in neighborhoods that are more walkable, this location is a prime spot for apartments.
The plans for the apartments include 12 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 900 square feet to 1,400 square feet. The hope is to have the apartments ready to rent in late summer or early fall of 2018.
The developers plan on restoring the facade to the original 1930s looks, which was of Italianate style, with large windows with exterior sills and brick frontage. As the commercial district declined during the 1960s, the building was patched over with solid concrete.
To move forward with the renovations, the developers must get permission to restore the building to the 1930s style. The Historic Preservation Office wants to keep the building as is, because the 1960s style represents the building’s “period of historic significance.”
Senator Charles Schumer is urging the National Park Service to approve of the plans, saying “Not only is the project unfeasible without the windows, but the original facade undoubtedly maintains the building’s historic character and represents a time when downtown was the commercial core of the city, much like today.”