This historic estate in Plaza Midwood finally may have its future secured. Here’s how

The VanLandingham Estate in Plaza Midwood.
The VanLandingham Estate in Plaza Midwood.

After years of uncertainty around a historic Plaza Midwood estate’s future, a plan proposed by the new owners would preserve the estate and add two buildings on the property.

Ascent Real Estate Capital and Stono River Partners, the two real estate firms that purchased the VanLandingham Estate this year, filed a rezoning request in April to restore the approximately 8,000-square-foot home and add two adjacent commercial buildings. The proposal is the latest plan to save the estate, at 2010 The Plaza, which is a designated historic landmark.

The firms presented the plan to the Plaza Midwood neighborhood association last week.

While the companies said there are no firm plans for how the home will be used once it is restored, they said in a press release that the most likely outcomes are either conversion to office space or continuing to operate it as an event venue.

Previous owner Billy Maddalon struggled to keep up with the costs of maintaining the property while operating the estate as an inn and event center.

He submitted two different rezoning requests to save the estate. The first plan would have included a townhouse development and community pool, but it failed in 2015. A revised plan with just townhouses was approved in 2018, but Maddalon told the Observer in April that the business lost too much money in the interim.

The two companies purchased the estate from Maddalon in March for $1.5 million, according to county records. The 2.8-acre property they purchased does not include the townhome development Maddalon got approved last year.

‘Up in the air’

The firms said the additional buildings would help make the property “economically viable.”

One of the buildings would be a two-story, 5,000-square-foot structure, which will take the place of an existing two-story garage that they plan to demolish. The companies said they plan to design the building with architectural characteristics in keeping with the neighborhood.

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A site plan for the VanLandingham Estate. The new owners hope to restore the existing historic home and add two commercial buildings. Courtesy of Cole Jenest & Stone.

The proposal calls for a second, 18,000-square-foot commercial building, that could be used for office and ground-floor retail. The design would be more contemporary, and the firms said it would complement the estate grounds with a “lush, living, green facade.”

Karen Van Sickler, president of the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association, said residents are “cautiously optimistic” about the plans. She said she’s pleased the companies want to preserve the historic home, the future of which was unclear after the sale.

“There’s still so much that’s up in the air,” she said. “It’s really more concepts and ideas as opposed to them knowing specifically what they’re going to do.”

The estate was built in 1913 for the VanLandinghams, a prominent Charlotte family. Because the property is a historic landmark, the plans will also need approval from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, said Dan Morrill, the commission’s director. And it will need support from the Historic District Commission, he said, since it’s located in the Plaza-Midwood Historic District.

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A rendering of the plans for the historic estate. Courtesy of Cluck Designs

But Morrill said after meeting with the new owners last month, the commission generally felt like the plans were respectful to the history, while still being able to generate income.

“All of this historic real estate ultimately is just real estate,” he said. “And it has to be economically viable.”

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Danielle Chemtob covers economic growth and development for the Observer. She’s a 2018 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a California transplant.