​Village Planning Design Review Process

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Nov. 6 Sewanee Village update meeting Frank Gladu, who oversees the initiative, discussed the Design Review process all new Village construction must undergo. Gladu also commented on two projects in the Design Review pipeline, the soon to be constructed bookstore and the proposed three-story mixed-use building with apartments on the top two levels and a specialty food market on the ground floor.
Charged with implementing the Sewanee Village vision, Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC) developed a Pattern Book setting architectural standards for Village construction, Gladu said. “The 68-page document informs how buildings should look and how they should be built.”
All proposed construction must undergo Design Review to ensure it conforms to the Pattern Book. Step 1 is a workshop where the builder and their architect or designer meet with the Village Planner to clarify expectations and enter into a collaborative discussion about the project’s schematic design. In Step 2, the builder submits the schematic design for review by the Village Planner. In Step 3, the schematic design and design development information detailing building materials, colors, and landscaping is presented to the Lease Committee for approval. Step 4 is review of the full set of construction documents. Construction is inspected at the foundation stakeout phase to verify the proposed building is situated on the leasehold as approved. Any changes during construction must be submitted for review.
The Lease Committee approved the Pattern Book, Gladu noted. The Pattern Book primarily addresses external circumstances. “The only reason the inside matters is how it impacts the outside,” Gladu said. “The planner does the reviews and has recommendation power to the Lease Committee. Step 3, the Design Development stage, has always been the point where the Lease Committee granted approval of proposed construction.”
Construction will begin soon on a new bookstore between Tower Community Bank and the post office. The design has been approved, contractors have submitted bids, and construction will begin as soon as a contractor is selected. Gladu estimated construction would take 12 months. Half the size of the former bookstore, the 6,000 square foot building will house general interest books in the left wing, Sewanee spirit items in the right wing, and textbooks in the basement. The University bookstore is currently housed in the Bishop’s Common to accommodate construction of a Wellness Center in its former location.
The proposed mixed-use grocery and apartment building has progressed through the workshop phase of design review. Discussion continues.
The developer who builds the structure will continue to own the building and lease the grocery and apartments, Gladu explained. For non-apartment new housing in the Village, the developer will sell the completed housing units.
“We’ve done a request for qualifications from developers,” Gladu said. “We have a half dozen developers we’ll invite to submit proposals for 10 sites identified for housing.” The sites were selected because multiple housing units could be built at the location, either single family detached homes, multi-family homes like duplexes and townhouse, or clusters of small homes.
“I don’t anticipate awarding all 10 sites,” Gladu stressed. Full build out would be as many as 90 units. “We’re testing the waters to see which sites and housing styles are attractive to developers.”
Asked who would be eligible to buy the newly constructed Village homes, Gladu said, “The University hasn’t decided yet. My preference is to sell to full-time residents.”
Speaking to the need for increased University employee housing along with pressure on the housing market from alums and parents of alums who want to retire in Sewanee, Gladu said, “We have an opportunity to increase the inventory to satisfy both demands.” Gladu serves as Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor.