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Roof addition to corner Abingdon building on hold after board orders construction halt

Roof addition to corner Abingdon building on hold after board orders construction halt

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ABINGDON, Va. — Work has ceased on the rooftop addition to the Summers building in downtown Abingdon following last week’s called meeting of the Historic Preservation Review Board.

That board approved construction plans at a September meeting for a penthouse to be added to the three-story structure built in 1908 at the corner of Court and Main streets near the Washington County Courthouse.

But a stop-work order was issued by the town of Abingdon earlier this month when construction plans apparently changed — without the board’s approval, according to the board’s chairman, Byrum Geisler.

Penthouse structures are usually not allowed on buildings less than four stories high, according to rules of the board, which govern structures in the town’s Old and Historic District.

At a Wednesday meeting, Geisler noted that the penthouse construction, elevator shaft and rooftop stairwell are not “inconspicuous.” And he questioned construction officials about why the stop-work order was not followed immediately and why construction continued for another two weeks.

The building is owned by Alex Martin.

Nathan Berg, representing Wallberg Construction, which is the company working on the building, withdrew a request for a certificate of appropriateness for revised plans for the structure — until possible consideration at the board’s April meeting.

Berg noted that the penthouse conference room atop the structure could hold 50 people, and the hope is for it to be a rooftop bar operated by a “high-end” restaurant.

Since plans were approved, the building’s elevator shaft has been moved closer to Court Street, Geisler said.

“We were all very enthusiastic about the project and still are,” Geisler said.

But, he added, “No one came back to tell us these plans have been dramatically changed. … It’s frustrating that there had to be a stop-work order issued on March 10.”

Bundy Architecture and Engineering presented the plans that were approved in September, according to Geisler.

Berge said construction continued after the stop-work order to “secure the building.”

David Berg, also representing Wallberg Construction, explained that plans changed because construction officials had to “substantially cut” the existing building. And that’s when construction officials realized they need to “reconfigure our plans.”

David Berg said, “I absolutely can appreciate y’all’s concerns. … We take it very seriously.”

Geisler said construction officials “have changed almost everything about the Sept. 2 plan that we have approved.”

David Berg apologized for continuing to work after the stop-work order.

“It is my fault for getting so focused on what seemed to be a catastrophic situation structurally and building-wise,” he said.

Board member Betsy White said penthouse construction should be “substantially” out of the public view.

jtennis@bristolnews.com | 276-791-0709 | @BHC_Tennis

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