A revision to Lewes zoning code has given the owner of property in the marine-commercial district new reasons to think about what he might do with a building on the site and the land it sits on.
“I’m just exploring some options of doing something different with it,” building owner Cliff Diver said in an Oct. 16 interview.
The brick front and concrete-block structure at 402 Savannah Road in Lewes last housed a US Postal Service Annex. It has been empty since August 2012, following a cost-cutting plan that consolidated Lewes and Rehoboth Beach mail handling operations at the Rehoboth Beach Annex.
Diver said Al Stango, a businessman and longtime Lewes mayor, constructed the building in the 1960s for his Western Auto retail store; at one time Western Auto operated about 1,200 stores nationwide.
Diver said it is far too soon to be specific about the building’s future uses.
He said because of recent changes to the city zoning code, a number of uses for the building and site are possible, but he declined to say what those uses might be.
Henry Baynum, city building official, said the property’s zoning has not changed, but a recent code revision allows a variety of residential housing types by special exception.
Numerous uses are permitted without special exception, among them are retail, hotel or motel, restaurant, parking facility, place of worship, service business, and park or open space.
Diver said he has applied for a building demolition permit through Lewes’ Commercial Architectural Review Commission. He has not decided whether to raze the structure, but if he does want to tear it down, Commercial Architectural Review Commission approval is required.
Diver also owns the building that once housed Hocker Manufacturing Co. on Kings Highway in Lewes. Hocker went out of business after demand waned for its primary product, a container cap with an attached brush used to apply solvents and adhesives to connect PVC plumbing pipes.
The building has been empty since February 2008, after Lancaster, Pa.- based National Novelty Brush Co. purchased Hocker and moved much of its equipment to Lancaster.
Diver bought the building in June 2008. He said he didn’t have immediate plans for it. He noted that it was in good condition, in a commercial zoning district, and could serve several purposes.
There have been several proposals to use the building, Diver said, but they would have been more trouble than they were worth.
In January 2008, Diver sold the General Motors automobile dealership he owned on Route 1 near Five Points, after having operated it for 30 years.