Adams Pointers, your population is about to increase by one big apartment complex right on Grand Avenue. Read it and weep. Or just kick out the planning commission. Hmmm.....Maybe a citywide initiative taking planning commssion appointment powers away from the City Council? Good idea!
City approves Grand Ave. condo complex
Developers have made few concessions after proposal was previously
rejected by committee
By Eric Kurhi
STAFF WRITER - CONTRA COSTA TIMES
A large condominium unit slated for Grand Avenue won approval from city planners, despite the fact the developers made few concessions after being rejected by a committee earlier this year.
The project, which is expected to be appealed to the City Council, would fill out a block of Grand between Bellevue and Euclid avenues with a six-story, 74-unit building. The building would take up a front lot and snake to a back lot between existing buildings.
The plan's opponents were surprised to see it resurface, unchanged, just months after the city's Design Review Committee called it unacceptable and told the developers to go back to the drawing board.
"They didn't do anything to try to mitigate its impacts on the neighborhood," said Nancy Reiser, who lives nearby.
Meritage, the developer, did provide an alternative plan that would make part of the project rise to nine stories.
Planning commission chairman Colland Jang, who voted against the project both Wednesday night and when it went to committee in February, said most of his colleagues felt the building fit in with the city's general plan, which allows for taller, denser buildings on large corridors such as Grand.
"The sentiment was that even though the design is not very distinctive, it met with the intent (of the general plan)," Jang said.
Planners did advise a design modification to a proposed tower on the structure.
"I would like to see the tower just go away," said Jang. "It's out of place ... I'd much prefer it to be a background building, one that doesn't stare at me."
Surrounding buildings in the Adams Point neighborhood vary in height, but much of the area is zoned with a 40-foot limit. Sections of the proposed building would have been 75 feet tall. However, it lies on two differently zoned plots, one of which does not have such a height requirement.
Commissioner Michael Lighty, who abstained from the vote, said a better process was needed for such a development.
"They have a right to build something of this size, and variances wouldn't substantially change its impact," he said. "But when
developers have a group of neighbors who don't like the building, they should engage in a redesign process.
"Residents would have to accept that the project will be bigger than they'd like, and the developer would have to make sufficient concessions while still keeping the project profitable."
The city's case planner could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could the project manager at Meritage Homes.
Commissioners Anne Mudge, Mark McClure, Suzie Lee and Doug Boxer OK'd the plan, with the condition that it goes back to staff for some design refinement.
Jang said he saw little point in sending it back to design review.
"The fundamental changes we wanted, the developer was not willing to do," he said. "I kind of wanted to get a vote to see if a majority of commissioners thought the design as it stands is approvable, and they did."
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