Car wash looking to clean up at old Kirby & Holloway site

DOVER — It appears as if the empty lot that was once home to the popular Kirby & Holloway family restaurant at 656 N. DuPont Highway could be on its way towards getting a new tenant.

The city of Dover’s Development Advisory Committee held a staff meeting on Jan. 30 at City Hall in which an application for a Tommy Car Wash, which would occupy the former restaurant site bounded by North DuPont Highway to the northeast and Lepore Road to the southeast, was one of several Site Development Plans that were reviewed.

Manpreet Mattu, equitable owner of the proposed Tommy Car Wash, is seeking to build a new 5,194-square-foot car wash structure along with accompanying site improvements on the site. Kathleen J. Gray is the owner of record of the property.

The property consists of a total 0.940 acres.

City Planner Dave Hugg was attending a couple of meetings on Tuesday afternoon and was unable to comment.

It seems to mark the official end of an era for Kirby & Holloway’s dedicated customers, who have long held out a hope that the restaurant would someday return.

The restaurant, which was in a building that was built in 1948, suffered an estimated $1 million in fire damage on Feb. 2, 2014. The blaze was determined to be accidental and electrical.

The day after the fire, former Kirby & Holloway owner Jim Gray gathered with many of his regular customers and several of his 60-some employees in the parking lot on U.S. 13 and vowed to reopen the restaurant he’d owned since 1982. The historic sign in front of the restaurant even read “never fear we will reopen.”

“It’s an old home, where you feel comfortable and can put your feet up,” Philip Gray said, serving as the family spokesman that day.

The city’s Planning Office received an Administrative Site Plan application on May 2014 to rebuild and expand the Kirby & Holloway restaurant. The application received final plan approval in December 2014 but work never commenced and the approval expired.

The new Tommy Car Wash is now seeking to be the fourth car wash in Dover.

Plans for the car wash show a long, one-story structure with a curved roof and two tower-like structures at either of the narrow ends of the building. The exterior materials are not specified but portray a dominant color scheme of gray, black and red materials. There is a canopy covering two drive aisles on the north side of the building. There are 19 red umbrella-like structures at each of the proposed vacuum-spaces.

The applicant submitted a diagram depicting the car wash facility activities in the eastern portion of the building.

The application will next be considered by the Planning Commission at its next meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

About that sign …

City staff recommended that the Planning Commission request the applicant keep, maintain and refurbish the historic Kirby & Holloway sign in its current location on the property. The architectural characteristics of the pylon sign, including the shapes and arrangement of the five sign panels and the curving arrow, are unique and should be kept, they said.

However, the sign panels may otherwise be refaced to suit the needs of the car wash as part of the sign refurbishment.

The sign was previously designated a “Historic or Significant Sign” in 2014 by the city’s Historic District Commission due to its unique architectural characteristics, which place it within the tradition of ArtDeco style commercial signage common in the Mid-20th Century.

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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