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Historic buildings could become dwellings

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Just picture it – people milling around the historic downtown district of Brewton, shopping, eating, chatting – and cohabitating above a business?
Residents could quite possibly have the option to live at the top of one of the historic buildings someday, provided a Brewton Planning Commission recommendation to the Brewton City Council gets approved.
The idea was brought forth during Monday evening's Planning Commission meeting when two business owners in the area approached the commission requesting that the city conduct a study concerning the addition of dwellings over historic buildings in downtown Brewton.
John David Finlay is owner of the Robinson and McGowin building, where two businesses held their grand re-openings this month. The building, he said, is currently for sale. Finlay said he has been bringing the building up to standard codes in hopes to lure out-of-town buyers that are currently interested in purchasing the building. However, one stipulation in the purchase is that the prospective buyers want to put a penthouse on the third floor, which is &#8220structurally sound.”
Also present was Terence Breckenridge, who owns the former Pensacola Mill Supply building where Jus Do opened up shop in the bottom floor last month. Breckenridge is also interested in turning portions of the top floor into loft apartments. A majority of the buildings downtown have several floors, but in most buildings only the ground floor is occupied by a business.
The idea, Finlay said, is to intermingle business and residential into the downtown area, which is zoned B-3, one of the city's top tier zones.
Currently, building owners are required to have an architect look over the building to ensure it's up to standard code, said Pete Diurno, who is director of community development and serves as secretary on the Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission unanimously made the recommendation to the City Council to expand the allowable uses in the B-3 district to include one-family dwelling unit, two-family dwelling unit and multifamily dwellings.
Zoning change recommendend for Evergreen Avenue
In other planning news, a rezoning matter quickly escalated into a city matter after one resident stood in opposition of the rezoning proposal.
Attorney Bill Stokes, representing himself as a prospective purchaser of property on Evergreen Avenue owned by Bobby and Evelyn Reynolds, was interested in having the property, which is currently residential, rezoned to B-2.
The property containing an unoccupied home is surrounded by several businesses.
Stokes said he has acquired at least 10 letters from people who have agreed to the rezoning proposal and presented them at the meeting. Stokes said, &#8220A great majority of the neighborhood