By MIKE WILLIAMS
The Draper Historic District is getting a new “front door” in the form of an ice cream and coffee shop adjacent to the Draper Community Park.
Monday night, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request from property owners Debbie Gardner of Thee Draper Village and the Pulaski County Economic Development Authority. The approved request changes the zoning at 3163 Greenbriar Road from low density residential to commercial.
The property – known to many as The Cottage – was built in 1938 and was used as part of Draper High School where girls were taught home economics and boys had shop classes.
The cottage was last used by Pulaski Grow, an aquaponic farm and youth training center. The adjacent building, built in 1949 known as The Cannery was most recently used for storage of items from old furniture and bleachers to discarded voting machines.
Early in 2022, the county’s Economic Development Authority offered the two buildings and a portion of the land to Debbie and Bill Gardner who have been active in Draper for over a decade creating local- and tourist-attracting businesses in the community.
The EDA wanted the buildings renovated and used to create jobs through additional businesses to serve the local community as well as tourists passing through.
The Gardners decided the best use of the Cottage was to convert it into a coffee and ice cream parlor to cater to those enjoying the park and tourists visiting the area.
The proposed name of the enterprise is “The Conery.”
According to a narrative on the project, seating will be added within the Cottage – floor-anchored, diner-style stools in The Conery and comfortable armchairs and a loveseat in the Cottage – inviting patrons to enjoy themselves and come back again soon. In the back, an outdoor patio with a pergola has been added, accessed by doors which will replace the large, rustic barn-door that wasn’t airtight.
In addition to The Conery, office space within the Cottage is being donated for use by the New River Conservancy, allowing for its first Virginia presence, and the Cottage’s front area will also be used to house the county’s Tourism Department.
The area immediately behind the extensive Cottage windows will remain a “green space” with parking being located beyond that area and down the slope of the property. Two charging stations are currently located in the rear parking area for electric vehicles, and two more are planned for the space once it is expanded to serve “the Cannery” building when it is renovated and put to its new use.
Plans are still under development for “the Cannery.”