The Committee reviewed site and architectural plans to construct a new 6,300-sq.-ft. multi-tenant commercial building on property at 1446 North Harbor Boulevard. Program Planner Linnell said that the new building would be constructed where the former Red Onion Restaurant once stood. The submitted plans show a contemporary design for the building, and staff believes another style of architecture may be more in keeping with development along this stretch of Harbor Boulevard. He said that this meeting has been arranged to discuss the submittal and to get direction from the Committee. A more refined set of drawings will then be presented at the next meeting on October 24, 2002.
Mr. Linnell advised that the submitted site plan shows that the commercial building would be setback 20 feet from Harbor Boulevard, and the setback would be improved as a hardscape patio area to encourage eating establishments as tenants with the availability of outdoor seating. Staff is taking the position that the 10 feet closest to Harbor Boulevard must be a landscaped area as required by the Zoning Ordinance and cannot be improved as an outdoor hardscaped area. The need for landscaping is critical because Harbor Boulevard north of the Brea Boulevard intersection is designated as a "scenic corridor" in the city's General Plan, where the view from the road is considered paramount. Mr. Linnell noted that the submitted plans provide 33 parking spaces, but staff does not require that amount of parking on the site. A joint parking and access agreement allows visitors to park in areas on the adjacent property to the south and east.
In attendance were Nick Biddlecome from The Brookhollow Group and architect Ron Sakahara of Lee & Sakahara Architects. Mr. Sakahara said that in response to staff's comments, he prepared a revised set of building elevations that convey a more conventional architecture; the revised elevations were displayed for the Committee's consideration. He said that the initial set of plans is still preferred, because it gives the building more identity. He noted that there is no one style of architecture in the area and that his client does not want to use a Spanish style for this building even though it replaces the Red Onion Restaurant. With regard to the landscape setback issue, Mr. Sakahara said that the city's requirement to provide 10 feet of landscaping would compromise the outdoor area, and the reduction in the patio area would likely "break" the pending lease agreements with interested eating establishments. He asked the Committee to consider alternatives to a 10-foot wide landscaped area for the entire length of the property.
In response to a question by a Committee Member, Mr. Biddlecome said that The Brookhollow Group believes that parking for this building's tenants needs to be as convenient and close as possible to their entrances. All of the 33 parking spaces on the east and north side of the building are critical and should not be eliminated, even if staff would allow a lower amount.
In discussing possible changes to the proposal, Committee Members were supportive of finding a way to satisfy the city's landscape setback requirement by allowing an averaging the landscape strip along Harbor Boulevard. One suggestion was to place the building's footprint at an angle to the street in order to provide a more open setback area. This alternative would require the loss of several parking spaces at the east side of the building. Another suggestion was to propose features to the outdoor patio area that would enhance its appearance, with the idea that such a design would meet the intent of the scenic corridor. Such features might include a low, 18-inch high meandering wall along the street frontage and a series of tree wells throughout the paved patio areas.
Committee Members thought that the building needed to be situated in a way so that there would be a physical or visual link to the office towers on the adjacent property.
Members preferred the contemporary architecture of the initial submittal to the one with the more conventional faade. Members advised that if the initial design is to be used, revisions should be considered that provide more detailing or articulation in the building. The exterior color scheme should be soft earth tones as opposed to bright contrasting hues.
Mr. Sakahara said that pending his client's approval, he would submit a set of revised plans that would address the Committee's comments in time for the October 24th meeting.