Lennar Multifamily Communities presented their latest plans for the Sherwin-Williams Development at an April 27th Planning Commission meeting. The biggest adjustments to the project included the removal of a standalone affordable unit, their intent to sell the existing Warehouse building, and the inclusion of a coworking space. The developer also provided a 3-D rendered “fly through” to better visualize their plans.
“Compatibility” with the existing architecture of the Historical Park Avenue District will be heavily scrutinized by the Planning Commission and the community. The District contains many of the few architecturally significant buildings left in our city and there are efforts to establish this as our “cultural district”.
Architectural FDP Presentation
One of the biggest adjustments to the project was the plan to now distribute the affordable units throughout the project instead of a standalone unit. Lennar spokesperson Kevin Ma explained that the new Trump administration and their proposed use of tax credits and changes to HUD policies would likely make this prohibitive. It’s unlikely there will be too much pushback over this as there were pros and cons for both scenarios and the project remains in compliance with the City’s requirements.
Lennar also noted that they would be selling the existing historical Warehouse building to a commercial developer and the plans for this were not included in this presentation. Ma hoped that this agreement would be in place by summer and the new developers would provide a separate FDP package for its renovation.
The video below provides a three-dimensional “fly through” of the proposed project:
Planning Commission and PARC pushback
Feedback from the January Study Session included recommendations by the Planning Commission to better embrace the adjacent railroad tracks instead of treating them like “the back” of the project and take advantage of the Western views. They also expressed the desire for more variation in architecture, materials and roof-lines to make the project feel more eclectic and less like a single, massive development.
One thing of particular concern expressed by the community was the “exclusivity” feel of the project with private street-level amenities. “A community is built on social relationships,” noted PARC member and Warehouse loft resident Jack Ghizzoni who sought to discourage this. “Having a cohesive community is itself an amenity for their tenants.”
Another commenter compared the plan to the park space at Parc on Powell where their amenities are visible to park-goers but secured behind an iron gate and create a “fish bowl” feel to it. “I always feel like I’m an intruder when I’m there”. The neighborhood group PARC advocated that these ground floor amenities be inviting to the community and be made available, as much as possible, to the public. The Assistant City Attorney expressed that this might not be legally enforceable and would need to be a voluntary agreement by Lennar.
One of the biggest unknowns with the project remains parking and there seems to be a bit of a collision course between existing residents, potential businesses, families — and the philosophies of some in our city. Existing residents are wary of parking woes and any businesses that may draw an influx of vehicles (i.e. “non-locally serving” businesses). The families that the city hopes to attract and presumably create resident continuity tend to value the proximity of parking to their units when lugging around groceries and kids’ gear. Most businesses agree that convenient parking for their customers and the need to draw customers from outside the neighborhood is essential to them thriving.
Some within city government and the Planning Commission would like to see parking become less convenient and less available to discourage driving and encourage transit use, walking & biking. All parking in the development is proposed to be “unbundled” meaning there will be no assigned/deeded spaces for units.
Park & Open Space FDP
The second study session for the park space design and programming was held immediately after the Architectural FDP. These plans had already received community feedback through two separate community meetings and a presentation to the City’s Parks and Recreation committee. Most in the community seem on board with the general layout of the park which involves a large, open grassy space and manicured paths scattered with outdoor public art installations and outdoor adult fitness equipment.
The departure of a standalone affordable unit had an impact on the arrangement of amenities as the children’s play area would no longer need to be tied to this unit. The bathroom would also need to be relocated from its proposed location along the greenway because of the absence of a nearby sewer-line. Most agreed that wherever bathroom ended up, it should be in close proximity to the children’s play area so parents can keep a close eye on their kids.
The latest plans also include dog play area to the north of the property and a community garden to the southwest area was said to be larger than the current Doyle Street community garden. The only neighbor in attendance who spoke advocated that the basketball courts remain in the plans to encourage adult fitness.
PARC continues to meet with the developers and have expressed general satisfaction with the direction for both the buildings and park space. There will be at least one additional study session prior to the project’s approval. Lennar expressed the desire to proceed with a city hearing to approve the FDP prior to the end of the year.
Both presentations can be viewed in the feature area above. Architectural FDP [6:55]. Park & Open Space FDP [1:34:13].