In September, word was that the owners of the Wilson Building (the McCrory Corp. of New York) might demolish their historic downtown structure.

By December, it looked like McCrory had changed its mind when it asked city planners how to get historic designation for the building and told the Board of Adjustment about its preliminary renovation plans.

But now the building’s future is back in limbo. The renovation plans are on hold because of the nasty economic conditions and because of problems between McCrory and the prospective developer, Arbor Development.

Chip Johnson, owner of Arbor, leaked the renovation plans late last year as part of his company’s successful effort to get a parking variance.

City planners say Arbor intended to renovate the original building, which now houses the H.L. Green store across from Neiman-Marcus, and add five to seven stories to it. Arbor is currently renovating the Melrose Building, located downtown where the John F. Kennedy Museum once was.

Tom Black, executive director of the Historic Preservation League, says the league is worried about the future of the Wilson Building and will continue to be “until there is a definite plan and development program.” He thinks McCrory leaked preliminary plans to see what the city would accept in the way of renovation. Now, Black says, McCrory Corp. can make a decision on what to do next.

Meanwhile, Johnson says McCrory has given him no idea of what that might be. “They have a nice earning asset there and they’re under no pressure to do anything.”


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