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Changes coming to historic buildings in Uptown district

Redevelopment plans are in the works for two corner properties on High Street -- the former 45 East Bar & Grill and the former Follett's Co-Op Bookstore.

Oxford's Historic and Architectural Preservation Commission (HAPC) recently approved plans for the 45 E. High St. property.

The approved plans include facade changes and the conversion of the building's second floor into an apartment. Plans were originally submitted in 2017, but after the owner switched architects, they were required to submit new plans.

Since the HAPC is only responsible for approving the exterior of historic buildings, its approval is only the first step needed for renovations to be done to the 45 East property. The building plans must now be approved by Oxford's Planning Commission, then voted on by City Council.

"In the [HAPC] meeting, they talked about being under a time crunch. My guess is they'll want this done August 20," said Oxford's Economic Development Director Alan Kyger about the 45 East architects. "In Oxford, we have one completion time. If something is not done by August 20, kiss a year goodbye."

Kyger said that property owners usually want renovations completed by mid-August to accommodate the student population that returns to Oxford in late August every year.

As of Friday, April 12, no plans for the 45 East property have been submitted to the Planning Commission for review.

The owners of the former Follett's Co-Op Bookstore site are in the application process for state-given permits to remove underground storage tanks on their property so that renovations can be done.

"It's always been my understanding when they purchased the site, that they will be tearing down anything that's non-historic and rebuilding with a mixed-use building," Kyger said.

Although no hard date has been set for work to begin on the Follet's property, Kyger said he is hopeful there will be progress within the year.

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