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Gallery rezoning clears hurdle

Frederic Le Clercq addresses the Flat Rock Village Council Frederic Le Clercq addresses the Flat Rock Village Council

FLAT ROCK — A rezoning request that would extend retail use across Greenville Highway to the historic Andrews house sailed through a public hearing untouched by opposition, and now heads to the Village Council for final approval on May 17.


Applicants Fred and Angie Le Clercq, both retired from the University of Tennessee faculty and now residents of Charleston, S.C., appeared before the council at Bonclarken Monday morning because the Village Hall is currently occupied by one-stop voting.

"I think the interest of historic Flat Rock and the village of Flat Rock go hand in hand, plowing down more or less the same furrow," said Le Clercq (pronounced LeClair), using the same descriptive language he applied to his written request, which drew on the couple's long connection to Flat Rock, their record restoring historic properties in the past, and his service on the Historic Flat Rock board.

The Le Clercqs have restored two historic homes in Knoxville and one in Charleston. He bought their current residence, a historic building at 120 Meeting Street, from two of Angie's sisters; her father had used the building as his law office.

The couple, who also have a cottage on Lake Summit, plan to open a gallery in the Andrews house, which is across from Hand in Hand gallery and abuts the Ravenswood neighborhood.

"The name of our gallery is Alkyon, and so that there will be six or seven people in Flat Rock who know what Alkyon means, the Alkyon is a mythological bird, likened to the kingfisher, that nests on the highways at sea and is a symbol of prosperity and success."

The rezoning request won a unanimous recommendation from the Flat Rock Planning Board.

About the only outstanding question is a driveway permit. Mayor Bob Staton said that while the state Department of Transportation is not known for making "a timely response" to such requests, the agency will ultimately grant a permit.

"You have to have access. You're on a highway, and you have no other access to a public road, so you will get a permit," the mayor said.

The house, at 2731 Greenville Highway, is a good candidate for adaptive reuse as a retail shop, Le Clercq said, because it existed for much of its life as commercial property.

It dates to about 1885, and served as the residence of Mitch Andrews and his son, James, who ran a livery stable next door until 1959, according to Historic Flat Rock.

When they first heard of the proposal last month, council members expressed concern about pedestrians crossing Greenville Highway. They said they'd like to persuade the DOT to lower the speed limit through the two-block Little Rainbow Row commercial section and get approval for a crosswalk.