Danville's biggest eyesore will soon be demolished as plans to develop retail, business and living space move forward. The deteriorating Danville Hotel Wild West structures, which run from Hartz to Railroad to Prospect avenues, will be demolished sometime in October, Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said.
"(Developers Castle Companies) are planning to move ahead and demolish all of buildings on site with exception of two historic buildings," Calabrigo said. "Tenants, with the exception of Sideboard Cafe, will be vacated by the end of September."
The structures in question were built in the 1950s behind the historic Danville Hotel and its adjoining McCauley House. Approximately 14,387 square feet of existing retail, office and restaurant space will be torn down, to be replaced with 34,585 square feet of new residential, retail and restaurant space. Sixteen individual residential units are planned.
Before demolition can occur, Castle will need to make sure all utility services are discontinued and complete a hazardous materials removal report. Calabrigo said developers will have more details on a demolition date after the report is submitted; no exact date for demolition is unknown.
Principals from Castle Companies did not return calls for comment.
In its heyday, the big red gingerbread building housed the Silver Dollar Room, later the Danville Hotel Restaurant and Saloon, with smaller shops surrounding it and a large parking lot on two sides. It housed Celia's Mexican restaurant until about 2007.
Since then, although the walkways off Hartz Avenue have been well-maintained, the gingerbread structure has continued to deteriorate. Castle's Thomas Baldacci had plans in the early 2000s that called for a three-story structure with residential condos, commercial offices, retail stores and an underground parking garage. The town changed zoning to allow mixed uses on the site, but development was stalled due to bad economic times, said Baldacci.
In 2009-10, Baldacci and the town began again to consider the project, but this time without the third story and underground parking. Baldacci said he needed a plan the town approved in order to receive financing for the project, and he has been working to receive input from all the town departments, commissions and council members.
"I'm dedicated to doing a first-class job there," Baldacci told the Express this summer. "The town of Danville has an outstanding planning staff. I think that if there's a way to get it done, the town will be able to make something happen."
Before Baldacci and his team can begin construction or receive a building permit, they must meet a lengthy list of conditions of approval. Plans regarding signage, landscaping and renovating the historic Danville Hotel to its original condition are being discussed.
"There are still some details associated with the project that are going to need to go back to the Design Review Board or Heritage Design Committee because of the historic buildings on site," Calabrigo said. "Architectural details and... little things like the depth of a window that will create a certain shadow line or provide a certain impression when looking from across the street."
Calabrigo noted that, while the front of the Danville Hotel will be restored to its original historic condition, plans don't show what it would look like.
"I know folks are excited to see stuff get going down there. This is going to be a high visibility project and it's really important that we cover all the details and that it gets done right," he said. "We're making progress...I think everyone is anxious to see things get going."