Witt: Opportunities for development abound

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Author’s note: The following column was written prior to completion of demolition of the former Sleep Outfitter’s building on Bypass Road.

Last week, this column discussed potential opportunities for re-development in Winchester.

It should be obvious to nearly every resident here those opportunities are nearly boundless.

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Here are some more.

Near the intersection of the Bypass and Colby Road is the now-vacant property which was previously the Palmer Tire Company, and before that, Muncie Buick.

It’s hard to miss the area. The building is deteriorating rapidly, with paint fading and peeling and the Palmer Tire sign still hugely visible on the front (even though it should have been, by ordinance, removed a long time ago).

Although cosmetically unattractive, it’s entirely possible the building itself is in decent condition and could perhaps be re-purposed into another use.

The entire property contains as much as 76,500 square feet and the building is about 12,500 square feet. The area difference between the building and the property is almost entirely paved or covered with stone and there is no landscaping to be seen except, perhaps, for a few small shrubs adjacent to the building, which are being allowed to grow uncontrollably and randomly.

A small corner of the site is intermittently taken over by itinerant merchants selling produce or other items.

The property is ripe for re-development, highly visible, relatively flat (thus presenting no major hindrance to being easily adapted for almost any use) and is passed daily by thousands of vehicles on Colby Road and entering and leaving Colby Center.

It seems obvious an attractive business located here would also enhance the businesses within the Center, including the very nice Traditional Bank, which has handsomely adapted itself to its own site.

It’s hardly ever possible, except in a very limited way, to know what circumstances are keeping a property like this from being utilized anew, so speculation in that regard would be meaningless.

But the fact remains this valuable piece of property is ripe for the right tenant, even one who may determine the existing building is unusable and must be entirely replaced.

Maybe the spot would be a good place for a nice sit-down restaurant, like Outback or Longhorn, but there should be resistance to locating another fast-food restaurant or used car lot here, although it might be nice to see one of the major new car companies return to Winchester — Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Ford, etc.

Regardless of what may eventually locate at this spot, our Office of Planning and Community Development must insist the entire site be upgraded to current landscaping, signage, storm water detention and area standards, and the immediate neighbors — including the tenants in Colby Center — should insist on this as well.

Two other opportunities in the nearby area include the now-vacant Hart’s Cleaners within Colby Center and the site of the former Sleep Outfitters building farther north on the Bypass.

Both seem likely spaces for new tenants and the owners of the two properties are surely anxious to find new enterprises to occupy them.

Perhaps next can come a discussion about the numerous vacant properties on Main Street. The blank storefronts present a bleak picture, but Winchester is not alone in dealing with this issue. Visit any nearby community and you will see the same situation.

It’s an opportune time for developers.

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