Friday, June 06, 2008

Bham Center Developer Applies for Certificate of Appropriatness

An important June 26 meeting will bring together both the HALRB and the Planning Commission to look at the planned development. This post has been updated to change the meeting date to the correct date, which is now shown. --ST

The proposed buildings at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive look too “industrial” and too “warehouse” said Design Review Committee members at their meeting Wednesday night.

“The warehouse loft aspect just doesn’t feel right…for this area,” said DRC member Charles Craig. DRC members did not like the metal facing used on parts of the building, especially on the top, fourth, floor. The "moderne" styling gives the building a factory look.

The scanner is up and running, so the image, with some explanation, is now included. (Click to enlarge the image.)

They also were not in love with drive through prescription window that the CVS would like to have in the new building, but they could live with it if it were nicely done. Also, they want a second entrance to the CVS.

According to architect Scott Matties, CVS does not want a second entrance for security reasons. DRC members and county staff have said that CVS has multiple entrances elsewhere in more urban environments. Plus, making the building more handicapped accessible might require another entrance. One DRC member asked why the people in a low- to moderate-income neighborhood should have a lesser store than similar ones elsewhere.

The argument was best parsed as: if they really want that prescription window, they might think a little more about putting in a second entrance.

The three members of the DRC and the two county staffers, overall, did like some of the changes, including a “sunken” CVS.

N. Pershing slopes downward about three feet from N. Glebe to the El Paso Café. In order to get a little more height in the building, the latest drawing shows that the developer would dig down those three feet near the intersection. The sidewalk at the intersection would be street level, and people would take steps or a ramp down to the CVS entrance.

The look mimics an amphitheatre. The entrance to CVS (imagine it as the stage) sits on the corner of the building. The ramp is flat in front of the door and slopes up from there, hugging two sides of the building.

The steps look a bit like four rows of bleacher seats in front of the stage. They separate the higher sidewalk from the lower ramp. As the ramp rises to meet the sidewalk, the steps taper off one-by-one.

The developer’s idea for the project is to raze the Glebe Market and El Paso Café buildings, replacing them with a four-storey mixed use of retail on the ground floor, and three storeys of apartments above. The CVS, El Paso Café, Woofs Dog Training, and Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits would occupy the space where the Glebe Market and El Paso buildings are. A similar building would occupy the space where the CVS now stands. The Glebe Market is the only business not expected to return in any of the new space. Only cosmetic changes will be made on the east side (the post office side) of N. Glebe.

Georgetown Strategic Capital, the developer of the building, applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness on May 21

On May 9, they applied for a Use Permit as a “Unified Commercial/Mixed Use Development,” what is known as a UCMUD and allows zoning to combine residential and commercial spaces.

They must apply for the COA because the shopping center at that intersection is a county-protected historial location. The COA basically asks the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board to look at the buildings and other accoutrements (e.g. park benches) and make sure that the new construction is appropriate for the surrounding neighborhood.

Receiving the COA is expected to be a months-long process. In the filing papers, Georgetown Strategic has listed May 2009 through May 2010 as the potential dates of construction.

Parking may prove to be an issue. As part of the UCMUD use permit, the developer asks that the county allow one space of parking per 580 square feet of retail space instead of the zoned one space per 250 feet. As well, they are asking that the portion of required residential parking that is traditionally used for guest parking be shared between retail and residential guests.

“We’re not asking for anything that doesn’t exist in the county elsewhere,” Mr. Matties said in an interview after the DRC meeting. “It’s used in Cherrydale and other areas.”

Next up in the COA process: Georgetown Strategic brings their ideas to a joint meeting of the full County Planning Commission and Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (the DRC is a subcommittee of that board), June 26.

Related stories on the redevelopment…
  • Community Hits Hot Topics Civilly (April 2008)
  • All Is Quiet at HALRB Meeting (January 2008)
  • HALRB: Envisioned Buildings "Too Big" (December 2007)
  • DRC To Discuss Redevelopment (September 2007)
  • Company Exploring Glebe/Pershing Redevelopment (July 2007)

  • Related stories on Glebe Market…
  • Tejada Comes Down Fully in Favor of Glebe Market (May 2008)
  • Will Sam Chon Retire? No one is talking...anymore. (January 2008)

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