Commissions to review major city developments for 2013

As 2012 wraps up, heightened activity on city agendas is providing a visual reflection of the past year’s activity in the city of Claremont.

The city moves forward in the commission process with 2 major developments—the Village Lofts, located on the corner of Oberlin and First Street, and a proposed multi-house development at Indian Hill Boulevard and Vista Drive. While the latter represents one of the more recent city projects to gain speed, the Village Lofts project is almost shovel-ready after making its way through the commission process for nearly a year and a half.

After unanimous approval from the city council in July, the Village Lofts project—featuring a 50-foot, live/work, commercial and residential building—is coming before the Architectural Commission next Wednesday, December 12, for design review. It will mark the first time residents will be presented with a more comprehensive sample of what the project will look like.

“It was a very blocky, vanilla design,” Senior Planner Chris Veirs noted of the 3-dimensional images residents were presented with at the July city council meeting. “Now the design has been fleshed out. This is much nicer than what was presented in those images.”

The 1.67-acre parcel, developed by Denley Investment and Management Company, includes retail and live/work spaces on the first 2 floors with residential apartments on the 2 floors above, along with a rooftop pool and cabana. A restaurant is proposed for the corner space on the first floor, while an internal parking garage and an adjacent 30-foot, 2-story structure with live/work spaces will also be included.

The project design looks to model itself after neighboring developments such as the Packing House, according to Mr. Veirs. He described the first floor of the larger corner building having an “industrial storefront” look, with I-beams painted to play off the red accent color. It will also use a mix of stucco, stone and metal as well as a fair amount of brick, says Mr. Veirs. The second building is also modeled after the Packing House with corrugated metal.

After hearing numerous residents voice concerns about the height and then actually seeing the buildings’ design, Mr. Veirs says he is pleased to note the 50-foot building along First Street does not look as “massive” as previously depicted. The third and fourth floors of the building step back away from the street to provide outdoor patios and there is also some play with the main elevation, according to Mr. Veirs.

“It will feel like a 2-story walking along First Street,” he said. “It actually has a fairly nice composition to it.”

Formerly an urban planner, Mr. Veirs is pleased with the outcome of the project’s vertical design providing a variety of new mixed-use opportunities to the now completed Village West area.

“It responds very well to the site, with flexibility to have retail and restaurants on the busier half of the building and step down to other offices and quasi-uses in live/work spaces,” Mr. Veirs said, while noting that the architectural commission review is going to be a process. “I don’t think we will get complete approval at one meeting, but I’m pleased.”

While city planners prep for design review on the Village Lofts next week, city engineers and commissioners met this week to take a look at one of the more significant concerns about the proposed multi-story development at Indian Hill and Vista: traffic.

As it currently stands, the site’s developer plans to build 21 two-story, single-family homes with 42 attached parking spaces on the currently vacant 1.75-acre lot. The project has not yet received approval.

Residents had raised concern over the project because the original proposal for 26 units would have called to change the space to allow a development of greater density. The city initially zoned the lot to allow up to 19 units. After a community meeting held in September, the developer agreed to lower the number of units to 21. 

In the months following, city engineers conducted a standard traffic survey on the site, determining no significant traffic impacts to the area, according to City Engineer Craig Bradshaw. Traffic and Transportation commissioners unanimously agreed with the review while additionally suggesting to add red curbing on Indian Hill Boulevard to avoid back ups on the busy street.

With approval of the traffic impact analysis, the Vista Drive Development moves forward for Planning Commission approval, according to Mr. Bradshaw. A date is unknown at this time.

—Beth Hartnett



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