GOSHEN — Plans for a new tailoring and design business in downtown Goshen got the thumbs up Tuesday during a meeting of the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals.

During the meeting, board members approved a request by Kevin and Jeannie Koch for a variance to allow for the operation of a sewing/tailoring/embroidery business in a residential district. The property in question, a former church building located at 125 S. Sixth St., is currently owned by the Kochs.

The approval included a request to allow three new non-illuminated flush-mounted wall signs, one illuminated freestanding sign along Sixth Street, and a developmental variance to allow a total of nine onsite parking spaces where 13 are required.

According to Kevin Koch, who has worked as a bespoke tailor and textile artist for the past 37 years, the east side of the former church building, built in 1876, is currently used as the couple’s private residence. The hope with the requested variances, he said, is to allow the couple to convert a significant portion of the remainder of the building into a new design studio/workroom, office and showroom to be known as Koch House of Design.

“We believe strongly in good stewardship, as much as possible, of historic and significant buildings toward maintaining their integrity, both for their usefulness in our community and for the preservation of the history such buildings represent,” Koch said of the building, which is located just inside Goshen’s historic district. “We believe that ‘living above the shop’ allows more personal attention and care of both business and building, in the manner our downtown shops were originally built and intended. My wife and I have spent a large amount of resources maintaining this building since purchasing it two years ago.”

Per the petition, the current plan for the business is to convert the building’s former stage/sanctuary area into the business’s main showroom, while portions of the former stage/sanctuary/fellowship hall will be used as the business’s primary workroom.

“I both practice and train apprentices in the sartorial arts, which includes artist rendering, pattern drafting, hand cutting, fitting and hand making/sewing of custom items,” Koch said. “I specialize in traditional and historical methods. I make custom textile art pieces using freehand embroidery and appliqué techniques. I give private lessons to apprentice tailors and occasionally do small group classes on specific techniques. I find the (building) a perfect creative and quiet space for my work, which is relevant to the artisan culture that has developed up and down Washington Street and all over downtown Goshen.”

As approved, the operating hours for the new business will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the option to temporarily extend the hours when participating in special downtown events such as First Fridays.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN

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