At the June 23rd Planning Commission meeting, plans were reviewed for the Pelco Lofts project. The 29,567 square foot warehouse nestled at the foot of Park Avenue would be an ambitious conversion of a historically significant building into modern abodes for entrepreneurs. The building is a Tier 1 “high architectural significance”according to the Park Avenue District plan and subject to preservation.
Designed by SABI Design Build and headed by Y.Q. Bomani Construction, the Pelco Loft’s scope of work consists of removing existing accessory buildings on the lot, converting the existing warehouse into loft units, and building a new two-story building in the rear for a total of 23 live-work units and 2 ground floor retail spaces. 14 vehicle parking spaces would be included. The building originally required 24 spaces, but gained parking space “credits” through our development bonus system through reuse of a architecturally significant building. The developers will also provide 26 long-term and 8 short-term bicycle parking spots. Bomani previously helped rehab the Cigar Factor Lofts in West Oakland.
Pelco is being presented as an ownership project which would make it the first significant for-sale development since [Correction] Adeline Place in 2009. Since they are live-work units, they will not be subject to the City unit mix or family-friendly requirements. Most developers note their decision to build all rentals as “market-driven”.
The Planning Commission had mixed reactions to the latest Park Avenue District project. On the one hand, they applauded the developers for taking on the challenge of working with a historic building and keeping much of the facade and architectural details on the roof lines. The commission also welcomed the idea of providing spaces for entrepreneurs, which could incubate new ideas and small businesses for the City. The project would also implement sidewalks on the west side of Halleck Street adding to the area’s pedestrian friendliness.
The project was also met with some criticism by the commission. Firstly the live/work designation has to meet specific criteria including being 50% living space and 50% work space. They must also be ADA accessible and the current plans did not include an elevator. Overall, the commission thought the floor plans were confusing and lacked detail.
While the developers made a laudable effort to present the concept of the warehouse conversion, the plans showed stairways that led to nowhere and windows in the wrong places. The single entry for the two ground floor retail spaces also felt uninspired, and the commission requested the developers to explore options of creating two separate entries while working with the existing industrial roll-up doors. Lastly, the brand new two-story building seemed very close to the railroad and had very small windows compared to those of the warehouse building.
The applicant will respond to the comments and concerns of the Planning Commission and submit their official package at the next stage. With the right direction from staff, the Pelco Lofts project could become a plus for the Park Avenue District. The adjacent blighted warehouse at 4245 Halleck is not part of this project.
The Planning Commission Study Session video can be viewed in the feature area [54:50] and the planning submission can be viewed below.