COLORADO AVE — One of the most controversial developments in recent years is a step closer to breaking ground.
The project planned to replace the 109-space Village Trailer Park on Colorado Avenue got conditional approval from the Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Monday.
The board wants the developers to return for approval of the courtyard facades and the landscaping but members said they were happy with improvements made to the rest of the project.
City Council went back and forth on an agreement in 2012 and 2013, ultimately deciding to allow the park’s owners to develop the land and oust the residents.
Dozens of individuals still live at the park and it’s unclear what will happen to them once the project gets full approval to move forward.
In July, the ARB asked the developer to sort out details and return for approval. They were asked to, among other things, rework some elevations that felt over-scaled and bulky. In response, the developer removed 12 units from the project to reduce the density by 6,595 square feet.
“The removal of the units has made room for common area open space that is open to the sky and has allowed the applicant to address the key comment of strategic massing reductions to provide relief in the long East and West elevations of the project,” planning officials said in a report.
Several members of the board lauded the decision, including Maegan Pearson who said the move “improved the project significantly.”
“We’re not usually listened to on that point,” she said. “I think it really helped those elevations.”
The project now contains 362 residential units, 109 of which are rent controlled. An initial report claimed that the number of rent control units would drop to 99, but developers said this was a typo.
Boardmember Pamela Burton asked that more work be done on the courtyard, which she and other members see as a key part of the project.
“You would enrich some the facades facing that courtyard, pushing and pulling some of those railings, maybe some of those units have a larger space,” she said. “Maybe some of them are glass and maybe there’s more detail and more money spent on those balconies because they really determine the character and quality of family life. Right now, it feels kind of like a dormitory; UC Davis in 1980 with the most basic kind of wood railing.”
Boardmember Margaret Griffin commented on the density of the project noting that it, along with other aspects of the project, are out of the board’s control.
“Some of the issues are out of our purview,” she said. “This is under an approved development agreement and only certain things, such as aesthetics, certain qualities of massing are under our purview, so given that I think the project has improved substantially since the last time we saw it.”
Ultimately the board members agreed to approve the project in piecemeal.
All of the elevations were approved with the exception of the courtyard. Landscaping, too, will have to come back to the ARB for approval.
Several members of the public, including a resident of the park, slammed the designs during the public input portion of the meeting. One member spoke in favor of the design.

dave@smdp.com

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