“Name that street corner.” If you can’t without referring to the address in the headline – then you’ve underscored the point made before tonight’s second Southwest Design Review Board meeting wrapped up.
Board chair Don Caffrey and members Scott Rosenstock, Matt Hutchins, and John Cheng decided unanimously to send the mixed-use proposal for 7617 35th SW – the Complete Auto Repair site (whose future has been in play for 5+ years) – back to the drawing board for a second try at Early Design Guidance. Here’s what preceded that decision:
ARCHITECT’S PRESENTATION: Here’s the design packet. Architect Ed Linardic told the board and other attendees this will be a 4-story building with 3 stories holding 40-50 apartments over ground-floor retail. Parking is required on the site but they are allowed to reduce it by 50 percent because there’s frequent transit nearby; their preferred scheme would have 51 apartments and 27 stalls. Zoning, Linardic said, allows the building to be up to 45 feet tall. He said the vehicle entry to the site will be off Holden; the city won’t allow entry from 35th. The building’s owner wants the apartments to be “affordable,” as Linardic put it. They propose a roof deck and another one on the second level, both accessible to all tenants.
While Early Design Guidance doesn’t require appearance detail, Linardic provided renderings that showed some of it (including the rendering atop this story), “to show what our intent is.” He stressed that they hope to make the building attractive to potential commercial tenants so the neighborhood can be “more vibrant.”
BOARD QUESTIONS: Hutchins wondered about the setback between this building and the single-family houses to the west. Linardic said a minimum of 10 feet is required. Hutchins also noted the new 15-foot setback requirement for overhead power lines and the architect said he’d have to address that – “the city changes the rules every 2 weeks.”
PUBLIC COMMENT: First person wondered about the apartment sizes. Second person wondered about 35th SW traffic trouble; it was reiterated that the project access would not be from 35th. Linardic said that since some curb cuts will be removed from 35th, that probably means some addition of street parking. A neighboring homeowner who said her property is right up against the building brought a question about site contamination. “It is contaminated, and we will clean it before we can do anything on it,” said Linardic. She went on to ask about the building’s proximity to her fence and a large tree, and to voice concerns about residents of the new apartments facing her property. She said she had a long list of questions/concerns – who is her contact? Planner Mike Gushard (who was at the table with the board members) was the reply. Linardic said an arborist will evaluate the tree and tell him “how close” he can/can’t get to it.
Another area resident voiced parking concerns and also asked about the intersection’s unusual configuration. Caffrey said that the signalization of the intersection is not within the scope of the review but that could be addressed to the city in general. That wasn’t the only transportation issue came up; the next nearby resident to speak said that parking and traffic are of extra concern now that SW Holden east of 35th is a school zone again (with Roxhill Elementary having just moved into the EC Hughes site). She hoped that the project team would add more parking than the 50 percent requirement. Linardic noted that he has to “do a traffic study” that could require the project to add more parking if it’s determined that street parking in the area is already full.
There was one more comment voicing concern about neighborhood overparking, and that concluded the public-comment period.
BOARD DELIBERATIONS: Cheng opened by saying he didn’t see much difference between the three massing options presented, nor was he seeing much information about the transition between the project and the single-family neighborhood next door. Caffrey echoed some of those concerns, particularly wanting to know more about how the building would relate to the surrounding streets. He also remarked on the ahead-of-itself rendering: “That has no sense of place – ‘name that street corner’. … There’s a funky little vibe to this area … this doesn’t really speak to that very well.” (He went on to note that local design guidelines call for a “sense of place,” in fact.) Hutchins had safety concerns about the driveway’s location. He also wondered about the residential stories of the building, and the corner seeming “weak”: “There’s a lot of misalignment.” Caffrey added that “This neighborhood wants a well-designed” building. He and Hutchins agreed they need some more views of the site, too – “all sides of the property.” And the board members want more detail of what happens functionally at street level – trees, trash, etc. The decision to ask for a second Early Design Guidance meeting was unanimous.
WHAT’S NEXT: Because the project will have a second EDG meeting, that means at least two more board reviews – once it passes EDG, it would have at least one meeting in the second and final phase of Design Review. Dates TBA; we’ll publish the next one as soon as we see it on the schedule, which is usually a few weeks before the official notice. Meantime, you can send design and/or other project comments to planner Gushard, firstname.lastname@example.org.