By Errol Castens
OXFORD – One municipal board gave its approval to a hotel proposed for one of the city’s most prominent corners while telling the developer of another hotel to go back to his original plan.
Oxford’s Courthouse Square Preservation Commission on Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve plans for The Chancellor’s House, a 30-suite boutique hotel with underground parking, to be built at University Avenue and South Lamar Boulevard. The hotel would replace the defunct Checker’s restaurant.
The previously rejected plan for the Chancellor’s House was trimmed back from the intersection, replacing a corner of the hotel with a patio enclosed by a low architectural fence, where the hotel would serve a limited menu to guests.
The increased visibility satisfied the commissioners’ previous objections to its imposing façade.
“I think it would be great in Oxford to have tables outside,” said commission member Judy Riddell.
Downtown merchant Will Lewis also spoke in favor of the proposal.
“I’m very proud to see these people … come forward,” he said. “There are details to be worked out, but at some point you have to trust people to do the right thing.”
The commission’s approval of the Certificate of Appropriateness was contingent on developers’ returning for approval of final details on building materials and landscaping.
Regarding the second hotel, commissioners rejected a change in the façade of what had been proposed as a Hotel Indigo location on the corner of North Lamar Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, where the Downtown Inn, formerly the Holiday Inn, is currently being demolished.
Alderman Jay Hughes spoke as a neighboring property owner in support of several proposed changes. He noted that some alterations offered more buffer to the house on the northeast and to preserve a prominent redbud tree on the southeast. Others offered more protection to the mature oaks on the west side of the property and made Americans Disabilities Act compliance more practical at the hotel’s front entrance.
The changes commissioners found most objectionable were the addition of white stone-arched windows and prominent awnings, which some commissioners said would make the building look more commercial and less of a transition between its neighboring commercial and residential areas.
One commissioner recommended reverting to the original plan, a suggestion with which other commissioners agreed.
“It was something that fit into the residential area of North Lamar,” Lee Benoit said. “This does not.”
Developer Luke Chamblee said his company would likely adopt the previous façade while changing the footprint to meet the buffer requirement.
“It’s under demolition this month, and we hope to get started with construction in January,” he said.