Rick Barker’s Airbnb project on Craghead Street, VANTAGE Art Lofts, is due to be completed and operational by the end of this year.
On Thursday afternoon the River District Design Commission unanimously approved new paint colours, panels and sculptures for the project in the 500 block of Craghead Street, which will feature animal sculptures with a plastic red elephant from 7 feet high and 10 feet long in projection. about a foot on the sidewalk to attract attention.
“He will serve as the mascot for the property,” Barker told the Danville Register & Bee after the commission meeting.
The art-themed real estate project will also include light and dark blue snail sculptures in the courtyard, fuchsia and lime green penguins inside the Airbnb building as well as two orange wolves, Barker said.
“It’s a long-term installation, years, not months,” architect Kevin Jones told curators.
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Rick Barker Properties has collaborated with Milan, Italy-based Cracking Art for the sculptures which will bring a 1960s pop art theme to match the mid-century interior design, he said.
“Our goal is to get creatives into the block,” Barker told the commission.
Commission Chairman George Davis III asked Barker if he was concerned about visitors damaging the sculptures.
“Are you worried about people spraying graffiti on them and parents having kids sit on them and taking pictures?” Davis said.
Barker said the structures will be hollow and sturdy, able to withstand a bit of abuse. Graffiti can also be pressure washed, he added.
Rick Barker Properties has announced the new concept as part of the 500 Block development on Craghead Street in the Danville’s River district. VANTAGE Art Lofts will be located at 546-550 Craghead St., with nine apartment-style units, including six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom suites.
The portion of the building at 548 Craighead, originally the Eldridge Drug Store in 1913, will serve as the central courtyard through which customers will enter 550 Craghead on the left and 546 on the right, both also built in 1913.
The building’s facades will be different shades of olive-green gray, Barker said.
Location 550 Craghead was originally Swift and Company, a local butcher and 546 was originally built for Nabisco. The 1913 developer was John G. Witcher, a partner of Witcher and Brown Wood and Coal Yard, previously on the same site.
To foster creative endeavors in the River District, the former Swift loading dock will become an art studio, Barker announced Thursday.
Rick Barker Properties will also support an artist-in-residence program in the first half of 2023 and sponsor a global online competition to select three artists to spend eight weeks each in Danville. Each will receive an art loft, studio and stipend, he said.
Jones is the architect and Mike Allen is the project manager. Jones advised Barker on all visual aspects of the project, from architecture to interior design and branding.
The historic buildings have gone decades without maintenance and suffered partial destruction during Tropical Storm Michael in October 2018. They have been structurally stabilized with defensive planning to minimize the impact of future flooding, Barker said.