Cameron Square

This architectural rendering shows a side view of the proposed Cameron Square apartment complex as seen while facing east on North Cameron Street. The parking deck at left would be next to Baker Street, while the front of the complex at right would face North Piccadilly Street. Fairfax Lane would cut through the center of the complex and would be wide enough to allow access to emergency vehicles.

WINCHESTER — More than two years after first being proposed, the city's Planning Commission has recommended approval of a major apartment complex downtown.

Cameron Square would include 171 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment units, as well as a concrete parking deck with 195 spaces and room for two ground-level retail businesses.

The four-story structure would fill most of the 200 and 300 blocks of North Cameron Street, starting at the former Winchester Towers site at 200-214 N. Cameron St. and stretching north to Baker Street. The apartment building would span across Fairfax Lane, leaving a 20-foot-wide path with a 24-foot clearance that could be accessed by firetrucks in the event of an emergency.

While some vacant structures would have to be demolished to make room for the apartments, the project would not disturb three existing buildings in the 300 block of North Cameron Street. One of those structures is currently empty, and the other two are occupied by Winchester Brew Works and NextHome Realty Select.

Construction would require the closure of Old Town Cidery, an open-air bar at 326 N. Cameron St., but the operators of that establishment, brothers David Glaize and Philip Glaize III, knew the business would most likely be a temporary venture because of the pending Cameron Square. Also, the Glaize family owns much of the property designated for the apartment complex and plans on selling it to Lynx Ventures Inc. of Richmond, the development firm proposing Cameron Square.

Ron Mislowsky, director of the Winchester design firm Pennoni Associates that is working with Lynx Ventures on the Cameron Square project, said Old Town Cidery shouldn't be closing anytime soon.

"It's probably going to take a year for us to get all the plans approved," Mislowsky told the Planning Commission at its meeting on Tuesday.

The extra time is needed because further designs hinge on City Council's approval of a conditional-use permit (CUP) that would make density concessions allowing up to 175 apartments to be located in Cameron Square.

If the CUP is accepted, Lynx would return to the Planning Commission with a site plan that contains more specific information on things like setbacks from the city's rights-of-way and outdoor amenities for apartment residents.

Winchester Planning Director Timothy Youmans said it will be difficult for Lynx to use 30% of its property for the amount of outdoor greenspace required by the city, but there are ways around that. For example, Lynx could instead improve nearby public properties like Timbrook Park that would be utilized by Cameron Square inhabitants.

"There are still a lot of things for us to work through ... but we have an experienced team," said Bernard Harless, a principle with Lynx Ventures.

"I am impressed by what I see," Commissioner David Ray said.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward Lynx's CUP application to City Council, which has its next meeting on July 27. If council approves the permit, the next step would be for Lynx to submit a site plan to the commission.

Commission Chairman Mark Loring said he is excited to see the forthcoming site plan.

"I think this is a great use of a property that, in my mind, is kind of a blight spot in the city," Loring said. "It is going to increase density downtown, but I think that's the intent of city leaders right now and it's in concert with the comprehensive plan [for future growth]."

Attending Tuesday afternoon's Winchester Planning Commission meeting in Rouss City Hall were Chairman Mark Loring, Vice Chairwoman Lacey Burnett and members John Tagnesi, Brandon Pifer, Paul Richardson and David Ray. Commissioner Leesa Mayfield was absent.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

(8) comments

paulmiller

It would be great if the owners of the complex would create a program that made the cost of the housing more accessible by offering reduced rent for community service professionals like teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, and EMTs. I do think the town should push back regarding the green space issues. Rolling over just to get this done would be a mistake, when holding to our planner's standards would force some creativity on the part of the developers. They might either compress the building footprint enough to meet green space requirements or plan a rooftop garden - possibly including a food-producing community garden for residents. From the drawing it looks like entirely took much concrete and masonry and not enough green space. Our community deserves better - and the extra effort now will assure that the new complex is an intuitive and pleasing fit to our historic (but forward looking) downtown.

Wandalou

you people just got at least a 5% raise. how about thinking instead about the less fortunate who make less than 25,000 a year. the level of poverty in winchester is through the roof. lets try to help out the less fortunate. i dont think any of our teachers or community service professionals are starving.... stop being so greedy....

StellaBob

WINCBEST and all these other people that will complain that winchester is run down or does not have the best grocery stores, then complain that new housing is going in....smh. losers!

WINCBEST

Where do you live? You must have plenty of money that you did not make here in Winchester. There is not a job in Winchester other than Local Government that pays enough to afford anything our Housing Developed made as low income affordable it is all about becoming Little Washington for our Government,

StellaBob

I am sorry that I would like nice residential properties in Winchester. I am sorry you do not make enough money to buy a nice property. Maybe move to West Virginia?

Residentdoa

I love life, I love Winchester any improvement is a great and fantastic change. With the wages raised here the cost of living is hand and hand. Common practice in order to place us residents on a great side on renting is to take better care of the community and especially the homes we call homes....

WINCBEST

Again, Our great planning commission has made changes to the plans as always. Now we will go bigger and create more confusion in area as thought they think these people are not going to be driving. Nobody that works in this area can afford

these places to live. We are just inviting Washington DC. to take over little quaint town of Winchester and raise the standard of living and taxes for those who live here. Why do we let this council and planning commision get away with these changes all the time on every project. They just have free reigns to do what they

please and couldn't care less about the residents.

mikep

Raising the standard of living? Egads! How Awful! Should they have left it as a falling apart, awful apartment building? Or just keep it as a vacant lot?

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