Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New plans for Alhambra & T

The aforementioned project at Alhambra and T has been revised. The original art deco look of the project, intended to reflect the appearance of the original gas station, has been replaced by a "Craftsman-ish" brick structure that is more oriented towards the corner. It's still four stories tall, 12 units with 13 parking spaces.

Here's a note from Mike Malinowski, the architect who designed the building:

"Attached are rough concept sketches of our current design direction for 3030 T Street. I hope this new tack addresses all the concerns that have been raised to date. This design has 12 units with 13 parking spaces, and is 3 story at the street frontages, with the fourth level reduced in footprint so it pulls back from the fa├žade for significantly reduced massing. Materials and style are ‘neo craftsman’ which is in concert with both existing surrounding homes, and the newly approved development at Alhambra and S, as well as nearby structures in brick such as the cannery and the natural foods coop. The elevator was relocated to allow the rounded corner to be softened and opened up with a continuous balcony treatment, with brick columns and perforated metal railings (so that view of potential occupant balcony clutter is obscured). The unit design, site parking and circulation layout, and internal circulation have all been improved. Note that the elevations and fourth floor are not yet worked out in any detail - pending an approval of this direction, and the drawings are rough sketches consistent with the developers need to either find common ground to proceed in earnest, or stop.

Please also note that the attached rendering has been revised since the meeting late today with staff and it incorporates the suggestions for brick pilaster/column treatment, metal balcony railing vs glass, floor lines expressed at balconies, as well as a more ‘red brick’ coloration as is consistent with brick use in Alhambra projects noted above.

It is my hope that this new direction is a project that can be supported at all levels so that it can proceed. What is needed is a clear ‘yeah or nay’ – so that the developer can devote their resources to their other projects that have a clear path to success. After such considerable work and investment, it is easy to understand their position.

We will be meeting with Councilperson Fong on the 19th. at 11 am. Perhaps staff might circulate these electronic files to the neighborhood as appropriate prior to that.


Michael F. Malinowski AIA"

While I liked the original design, I think this sketch was done as a way to make the building blend a bit better with the existing buildings, and personally, I would rather have seen something a bit bolder, that acknowledged the gas station. But I also kind of like this too. And the approval of development on this lot means that the gas station structure can be disassembled and restored, and given to the Towe for future use.

And often, when it comes to infill development, the winner becomes the project that leaves all parties equally dissatisfied.

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