OXFORD – Historic preservationists rejected a proposed boutique hotel at a gateway to downtown Oxford on Monday, leaving the question of what might better fit the site of a defunct fast-food restaurant.
Several residents spoke against “The Chancellor’s House,” proposed by Dallas, Texas-based developer Tom Stone, for the northeast corner of South Lamar Boulevard and University Avenue, where Checkers restaurant closed within about a year of its construction.
Commissioners expressed concerns at October’s meeting about the building’s 35-foot-high west façade changing the view of the Square from South Lamar. Architects Michael Crosby and Matthew Peterson’s three-dimensional model did not change any minds on Monday.
“I’m a property-rights person, and I actually spent some time trying to defeat this ordinance, but we have this ordinance,” said commission member Andy Phillips. “There are some requirements that we have to keep the rhythm of that street.”
“In spite of (architects’) very best efforts, the words ‘imposing,’ ‘overwhelming’ and ‘domineering’ come to mind,” said resident Bill Lawhead. “This building … just sticks out like a sore thumb.”
Oxford resident Ann O’Dell called the proposed building “disturbing.”
Several commissioners acknowledged the proposed hotel would constitute an attractive structure in a different place, but they voted 4-1 to reject the plan, with only Judy Riddell dissenting.
Peterson and Crosby said any decision about a new direction for the property would be made by their client.
Afterward, Mayor Pat Patterson said the decision may have satisfied the immediate concerns but left no long-term solutions for the visual blight of the corner. “So if you don’t want the hotel on that corner,” he asked to no one in particular, “what do you want there?”
Downtown Oxford is currently without a hotel. Downtown Inn and Suites, which has occupied the corner of North Lamar and Jefferson Avenue for a half-century, was recently fenced off, presumably in anticipation of demolition after owners received approval last year for a new building.
Another hotel is under construction on Jackson Avenue between downtown and the University of Mississippi campus. Yet another is proposed for the former site of The Gin one block southeast of the Square.