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RDRC Minutes October 20, 2005

MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
REDEVELOPMENT DESIGN REVIEW COMMITTEE

COUNCIL CHAMBERS FULLERTON CITY HALL
Thursday October 20, 2005 7:00 PM

CALL TO ORDER :

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by Chairman Daybell

ROLL CALL :

COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Daybell; Committee Members Cha, Duncan and Hoban
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT: Committee Member Coffman
PUBLIC PRESENT: Jim Alexander, Bob Barthwick, Melba Jean Coles, Stanley Coles, Dick Hamm, Richard Hopping, John Loomis, Mike O., David Obitz, Bob Root, Rocky Shen, and Steve Swanson
STAFF PRESENT: Chief Planner Rosen, Senior Planner Eastman, Clerical Staff Leopold, Redevelopment Project Manager Rob Ferrier, Redevelopment Director Rob Zur Schmiede

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS:

None

OLD BUSINESS:

None

NEW BUSINESS:

1. PRJ05-00606. APPLICANT: PELICAN LAING/FULLERTON, LLC. PROPERTY OWNER: CITY OF FULLERTON. Amerige Court/Vintage Square is a commercial/residential mixed-use project proposed for the 100 block of West Amerige Avenue - using the existing City parking lots. The purpose of the meeting is to review the preliminary site and architectural concept plans. (C-3)

Chief Planner Joel Rosen introduced the project and developer, the Pelican Laing Group and architectural team KTGY.

Dick Hamm, Pelican Laing Group presented the design team including Steve Swanson - Pelican Group, John Loomis - Thirtieth Street Architects, Bob Barthwick - BGB, Design Principal David Obitz and Lead Design Rocky Shen from KTGY. Mr. Hamm reviewed the Sept. 13 meeting and presented the RFP diagram of a map of Harbor, Wilshire, Amerige, Commonwealth and incorporated the city-owned portion of the parking lots. (scheme B included Malden and incorporated the Ross building by creating a courtyard behind the area heavily influenced by the restaurants and bars).

Comments from the Sept. 13 meeting were broken down into categories and were summarized. The comment summaries included parking, pedestrian connections, vehicle connection, open space, architecture, uses and function.

Parking:
  • Access to the project from mid-block Commonwealth.
  • Preferred structured parking to subterranean parking
  • Resident parking off city streets in the evening
  • Open the retail street parking to commercial and below grade is just resident parking.
  • Make parking as discrete as possible.
  • Quantity of parking was discussed
Pedestrian Connection:
  • Make project in area more pedestrian friendly
  • Make Amerige more pedestrian friendly or close off completely
  • Provide a pedestrian through connection from Wilshire to Commonwealth, to Ace Hardware, or don't block off connection through that parking lot
  • Provide strong connection to City Hall and provide pedestrian access from Commonwealth
Vehicle Connection:
  • Commercial deliveries to surrounding businesses is important
  • Provide and improve vehicular access from Commonwealth
Open Space:
  • Make Amerige a convertible street for events
  • Close Amerige in the evening, or always for pedestrians
  • Furniture and landscaping important
  • Build higher to provide more open space
  • Improve open space between Ziings and Back Alley
  • More plazas, alleys, alley improvements, pedestrian connections
  • Create a pleasant, active and functioning space in a human scale
  • More green spaces
  • Lighting during evenings
Architecture:
  • Quality architecture and modern design
  • Prepare 2 or 3 options and present at next meeting
  • Green building techniques
  • Transition to western residential neighborhood
Function:
  • Bar/restaurant conflicts
  • Public safety
  • Provide more office space
  • More bookstores and quality retail, less bars and restaurants
  • Need another grocery store
  • Noise conflicts with residential uses
The design team presented the design schemes based on these comments.

Mr. Orbitz and Mr. Shen from KTGY reviewed concept and design in schemes responding to public feedback.

First scheme, Plan A:
  • Focused on trying to get parking out of the ground and place it above grade
  • Placing a multilevel public garage on the south side
  • Creating major retail components
  • Outdoor spaces
  • Public parking and residential uses
  • A plaza zone on the North side with major residential component and commercial space that helps form the plaza and addresses the commercial uses on alleys
  • Paseos/courtyards linking Wilshire and Amerige
  • Linking South parking garage to Commonwealth (commercial office uses, boutique-like residential units above garage)
Second scheme, Plan B:
The difference between both schemes is the way the team is treating open space, parking components, and architecture. This scheme tries to give more open space. Plan B shows a significant public plaza as part of the project. It shows buildings 7 stories high (approaching 90 ft. in height). Having taller buildings benefits the open space.

The buildings will be made of steel or concrete.

Orbitz reviewed scheme B and addressed how the team took into consideration the public's comments from the previous meeting including:
  • Keep residential parking off city streets - Proposed a subterranean parking/ramps
  • Parking discrete as possible - Use garages and lining garages with positive architectural edges, storefronts, brownstone, retail or townhome unit.
  • No underground parking - Four out of five levels will be retail parking and will be above grade, not subterranean.
  • Commonwealth access is provided.
  • Bar/residential conflicts - Can form a plaza and transform into an enhanced landscape plaza. Pulling residential away from plaza elevations
  • Commercial delivery area - Space is convertible and can be used in the morning for deliveries at Ace Hardware and in the afternoon for public pedestrian zone usage.
  • Provide improved access from Commonwealth - Enhancing ability to get from Amerige from Commonwealth through the parking garage.
  • Pedestrian connections - The ability to get from Wilshire into the heart of the project with the enhancement of Amerige in a highly amenitized zone for the pedestrians
  • Make Amerige more pedestrian friendly - Pedestrian connections from Wilshire through Commonwealth and Ace Hardware.
  • Build taller and higher and create more open space - this scheme proposes a wider open space and the verticality of this scheme will enhance the urban quality lifestyle of Downtown Fullerton
  • Create a pleasant, active, functioning space in human scale - Have tree lined streets along Amerige on the sidewalks, doesn't show a continuous flat faade going up seven stories, intent is to accentuate a beltline similar to the Chapman building or historic buildings that helps define the pedestrian zone or base of the building.
  • Make Amerige a convertible street for public and pedestrian uses - The ability to flex Amerige as a open/closed street.
  • More plazas and improvements in pedestrian connections - In enhancing these spaces, such as the Ross Building, the area can be an adaptive reuse and becomes more of a retail kiosk that is placed inside of the landscaped/hardscaped plaza area.
  • Courtyards, fountains, furniture, landscaping are important - There is a possibility of doing something special/memorable on the corner with landscaping, fountains or water elements.
Difference between both schemes is the open space, significant architecture and parking issues.

Chairman Daybell asked how many residents are envisioned in scheme A and B? Dick Hamm answered that both schemes will have approximately 100 units.

Mr. Orbitz recommended that an outdoor caf defined by wrought iron, potted plants would be very appropriate in Vintage Square. Height of the architecture is important in both schemes. Broad sidewalks, landscaping, outdoor seating and furniture, enhanced alley ways, open space, fountains are all features that should be considered for Amerige Court to create a wonderful pedestrian experience.

Chairman Daybell opened the floor up to committee members to ask the design team any questions.

Committee Member Hoban said he would like to see the team go in the direction presented in the images shown. What drove the residential numbers? Was the square footage of retail vs. residential driven by feasibility or from original bid work? How did you obtain the ratios?

Mr. Hamm answered it was driven by construction type (wood frame over podium with a 50 ft. height limitation) in alternative A, and not driven by an economic model.

Mr. Hamm reviewed the different types of architectural styles for the project.

Committee Member Hoban asked what the tallest building in the images presented compared to those in Downtown Fullerton. Mr. Hamm answered the taller buildings were between 50 - 70 ft. tall.

Committee Member Hoban asked if the Ziings court area is incorporated into project? Mr. Hamm said the team wants to turn that area into a special spot in city and reviewed the boundaries.

Committee Member Hoban said he liked the idea of placing fountains in the courtyards. Mr. Hamm responded that during the visioning sessions the open space architecture, landscaping, and fountains were all important elements. One thing to keep in mind is that the alleyways from Wilshire to Amerige will have to be dual use spaces for deliveries.

Committee Member Duncan requested an explanation of the relationship of buildings to the South side buildings of Wilshire and the cross section of the buildings. Mr. Hamm responded that the cross section would start at the curb of the parking lot., so the existing walkway is the separation between the Wilshire building and where the proposed building would be.

Redevelopment Director Rob Zur Schmiede stated they would want would need to accommodate deliveries and during the latter part of the day and on weekends it could be made more of a pedestrian space.

Committee Member Duncan inquired about the part of the project that fronts Commonwealth. Mr. Shen said the team has been working with Fullerton Savings Bank on the development of the plans and spoke to Carl Gregory from Fullerton Savings. He has taken the design scheme to his board for approval. In two weeks Mr. Gregory will notify the architectural team, if the board has approved the plans.

Committee Member Cha asked how the team came up with the number for 685 parking spaces? He favored the idea of ground level parking in plan B better than plan A. He stated the team did a good job in gathering the comments from the last meeting and including them into the plans.

Mr. Shen answered that in scheme A there are two full levels underground, with 130 spaces per level. In scheme B, they have allocated one level underground, with 130 spaces, and two half levels above ground with 130 spaces.

Committee Member Cha asked how many parking spaces would be sufficient for residential units and commercial units? Mr. Orbitz said there are currently 300 spaces, but will provide 450 spaces, for public use, plus parking for their uses.

Chairman Daybell asked if the team has considered an above grade bridge over Amerige where people could go from residential on the north side to the parking on the south side? Mr. Loomis said they are working on some alternatives and exploring the bridge element to link the north to the south side.

Chairman Daybell opened the floor for public comments:

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Tony Bushala stated the most important thing for this project is the design/architecture of buildings and would welcome a building that had a design with a modern theme. Doesn't think density is an issue in Downtown Fullerton. The main focus should be that of quality architecture and maintenance free buildings. There is an opportunity to do something significant and design a significant building. A good example of that is the Fullerton Savings building. Mr. Bushala said people in Fullerton want honest architecture. He also stated "Vintage Square" is a misleading name and "Amerige Court" would be more appropriate. The team should have people from the community come up with additional names for the project.

Chairman Daybell agreed and said he liked the name "Amerige Court" better than "Vintage Square".

Bob Root, 51-year resident, said that Fullerton will continue to grow. He questioned if we should stop growth or learn to accommodate it. Mr. Root said this project will be good for Fullerton and should be of quality. Going up is the only way to go and the safety using concrete and steel for future Fullerton residents. Mr. Root fully supports the project.

John Silber is pleased to have the project brought along step by step. Scheme 2 gives greater latitude to accommodate pedestrian spaces at ground level. The detailing will give us different material choices. If project should have programmatic distinctions, even in the residential, if those can be accentuated/highlighted to make each of the buildings have a different character from the inside out, that would be a plus. One thing of concern that has to be watched closely is where the parking meets the public alleys (near Back Alley or hardware store). They should be watched closely because the natural surveillance security issues are weak and the shadow, dead blank wall aspects are going to be strong and a sense of safety might be lost. Another item to be examined is how parking will be handled, offering 3 hours free parking with validation. Better control for security issues as the parking structures get bigger.

Ryan Murnon, resident of the Fullerton Promenade, was interested in how parking was resolved in scheme B that was a much more inventive way to open up the space. Develop a unique style for buildings. Questioned how the alleys and sidewalks will function by raising the level or slanting into the street. He expressed concern about the dual entrances to Ziings, Roman, and theatre from Wilshire and the alley. How will enclosing the space affect how they use the back door and will it force more traffic on Wilshire? Is there a way to entice pedestrians to use alley entrances? He also questioned what will the residents be looking at from their apartments facing the Kettle and Keg? He stated he was excited about having the plaza and fountain and bringing in more people to Fullerton.

Mr. Hamm addressed the comments Mr. Murnon made. He said the pedestrian court behind Ziings alley will have a small ramp closer to Amerige that will be driveable, with a small incline. On the other side of the Ross building there would be an entry statement with a set of stairs. On the Wilshire side there will be a slow ramp.

Chariman Daybell closed the public comments.

Committee Member Hoban commented on the open space where the proposed arches would be, stating there is various activity because of the bars and wanted to know how having the bottom floor residential doors there would mix, and if it's been discussed at the community meetings?

There will no longer be a need for cars to go down that alley and will be hardscaped. They will take the driveway space and turn it into pedestrian walkway and outdoor dining/spaces. He discussed the relationship that would need to work on is between the parking garage and spaces.

Committee Member Duncan asked about the building on Commonwealth linking to Amerige and connecting to other courtyard. Mr. Hamm reviewed some of the ideas they've discussed, but said it still needs to be studied.

Chairman Daybell asked the committee if they think any more consideration should be taken for scheme A? He supported scheme B because of the concrete and steel.

Committee Member Cha preferred scheme B stating scheme A was too crowded. He liked the level parking in plan B and added it will have more class.

Committee Member Duncan agreed that scheme B is a better design.

Committee Member Hoban preferred scheme B because the height interests him more and stated least desireable things go underground. He said he doesn't have a problem with underground parking.

Chairman Daybell is in support of scheme B and wants one underground level of parking, more height, and buildings that are great architecturally. He stated it's awesome how the team has handled the project. Chairman Daybell likes what he sees and says the team is headed in a great direction. However, he would like to see parking structures tied above grade bridge or under Amerige. He doesn't have a problem with closing Amerige down to everything except to emergency vehicles and said deliveries can be afforded to the surrounding buildings.

Mr. Zur Schmiede reviewed upcoming meetings scheduled with the City Council and said he would like to set meeting for negotiations in the second meeting in December or January.

STAFF/COMMITTEE COMMUNICATION:

Senior Planner Eastman gave feedback from the last RDRC meeting regarding resident Mary Griffen and the St. Jude project. He stated there was discussion about directing St. Jude to talk to Ms. Griffen, but nothing was promised to her.

AGENDA FORECAST:

None

ADJOURNMENT:

MOTION by Committee Member Duncan to adjourn Meeting at 8:51 P.M.

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