Witt: Landowners should develop properties more appropriately to adjacent neighborhoods

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, July 16, 2019

There are a good many things that one can learn by utilizing Google Earth and examining the community.

For instance, a recent stroll around town using the app showed images had been upgraded recently enough to show the partially collapsed roof of the Sphar building.

Curiosity about the utilization of land around the area, combined with drive-by views of some vacant properties, led to a Google Earth search for parcels which might lend themselves to redevelopment and adaptive reuse.

The first noticeable fact is the significant amount of space potentially available — potentially because people still use some of the areas noted herein — but perhaps not as effectively as possible.

The first parcel that cropped up is the land between Hays Street and Talbott Avenue. There are still two buildings on the site, either partially occupied or vacant. The land area contains approximately 1.2 acres.

If the examined area extends to the west across Talbott Avenue to the line of the old railroad track — also containing a brick building — another 0.82 acres is added to the space.

Looking eastward and adding the corner lot — now occupied by a used car business — another 0.7 acres would add to the total developable area.

While all the facilities on these parcels have orient toward Lexington Avenue, redevelopment could result in similar orientation, providing needed parking for businesses, while also addressing some of the needs of the surrounding residential neighborhood. A small grocery store here would be a boon to the community and could still accommodate Lexington Avenue traffic, especially from those residential areas farther west, Victory, Bloomfield, Long, etc. Many can remember when there was a grocery store at the corner of Waveland and Lexington and another on Hays Street.

These three land areas could be repurposed into a strip shopping area and be much more amenable to the surroundings than are their present uses.

Another area inviting reuse is the old bowling alley property on Forest Avenue near the community park. This parcel is immediately adjacent to a residential area and contains about 1.64 acres, including a pretty rundown building and a large paved lot. Surely something more agreeable to both residences and a park could be developed here. Not sure if the building is in use at present.

Traveling out Old Boonesboro Road finds one passing the Winchester Florist property. There is a residence on this property, possibly still occupied. But the greenhouses there seem to have fallen to disrepair, and the florist business is likely no longer operating.

This property possibly contains as much as 2.4 acres of land and is juxtaposed with residences on its south side, a large open field leading to another residence on the north. Based on the size of adjacent home lots, I estimate as many as 10 homes could be on this site, each with lot sizes similar to those in the Calmes subdivision.

Taken together, the sites mentioned already contain in excess of 295,000 square feet of space — and this represents 80 percent of the area of Peddler’s Mall area, including McDonald’s — which landowners could more efficiently and effectively utilize … and be developed in such a way as to be more appropriate to the neighborhoods in which they are in.

Honestly, considering the appearance of the structures on all of these sites, something new on them would certainly be a vast improvement over what’s there now.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.