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Design Commission - Minutes     
Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Call To Order: 

Chairman Fred Glick called the regularly scheduled Design Commission meeting to order at 7:36 PM in the Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington. 


Roll Call:

Commissioners Marcia Dawson, Callie Ridolfi and George Wittman were present.  Vice-Chair Norman Sandler and Commissioners Brian Caditz and Lucia Pirzio-Biroli were absent.


Staff Present:

Richard Hart, Development Services Director and Shelley Bolser, Associate Planner.



Commissioner Wittman noted that some of his comments regarding the Mercerwood Shore Club pool bubble were not included in the minutes of December 8, 2004 and he would like the minutes revised to reflect those comments.  Commissioner Wittman moved, Commissioner Dawson seconded, to approve the minutes of December 8, 2004 with the inclusion of Commissioner Wittman’s comments.  The minutes were approved by a vote of 4-0.


Regular Business:


(1)                 Action Item #1: The applicant, RW Thorpe and Associates for the Mercerwood Shore Club, requested Final Design Approval for the addition of:

·         a pool “bubble” cover

·         addition of height to the pool mechanical building

·         a new face for the existing sign at the entrance to the site

·         fencing for a dumpster

·         landscaping additions


The applicant had come before the Design Commission for a study session on October 13, 2004 and received preliminary approval with one condition at the December 8, 2004 meeting. 


Shelley Bolser, Associate Planner, gave the staff presentation.  Mrs. Bolser stated that this hearing was a formality and there had been no changes since the December 8, 2004 meeting.  Staff recommended that the Design Commission grant final design approval with the one condition imposed at preliminary design approval. 


Commissioner Wittman noted his previous reasons for voting against the pool bubble still stand.  No other commissioners had any questions or comments. 



Commissioner Dawson moved, seconded by Commissioner Ridolfi, to grant final design approval for the proposed additions to the Mercerwood Shore Club, as presented on the formal site plans, drawings and elevations date stamped November 19, 2004 and the statements and presentations given at the October 13, 2004 and December 8, 2004 Design Commission meetings.  This decision incorporates the findings of the staff report and is in accordance with MICC Section 19.15.040, with the following condition:


1.  The Mercerwood Shore Club shall add up to twelve (12) Cypress trees at a minimum of eight (8) feet tall each on the north side of the clubhouse to provide screening of the pool bubble.


            The motion passed by a vote of 3-1 (Wittman dissenting). 



(2)                 Study Session (No action to be taken): The applicant, Weber + Thompson for Era Care Communities, is proposing to build a new five story independent and assisted living community with underground parking at 2430 76th Ave SE.  The development would include underground parking and a plaza that connects to the existing sculpture park to the north. 


Shelley Bolser, Associate Planner, summarized the staff report.  This study session is optional, but was requested by the applicant so that the Commission may provide direction in the early stages of design.  Staff feels the preliminary design responds well to the specific attributes of the site, and has the following comments and suggestions for the applicant to consider:

·         Provision of sheltered areas for pedestrians in the plaza due to the northern orientation

·         Implementation of additional minor site elements to fulfill code requirements, provide additional modulation (especially at the northwest corner), and possibly substitute for amenities open to the public at street level

·         Addition of a pedestrian path in the buffer space on the south side of the building to provide connections between 76th Ave SE and Sunset Highway

·         Exploration of colors other than light gray to complement total color palette

·         Consider opening some street level services to the public


Mindy Black and Kirsten Scott of Weber + Thompson presented the applicant proposal to the Design Commission, explaining the purpose of the development and the intended residents.  The design includes the following points:

·         The street level façade is appropriate retail height for possible future conversion of building use.

·         In other Era Care developments, some resident amenities have been available to the public.

·         The site is adjacent to I-90 and the design team is considering noise mitigation techniques such as vegetation and a water feature

·         The public plaza is the proposed major site feature; the minor site features are still under consideration

·         The design will include paving and landscape techniques to create “outdoor rooms” in the plaza

·         Description of the design, including roof elements, bays, rooftop deck, and varied setbacks

·         Description of the northwest corner as a glass beacon to provide a gateway to the Town Center

·         The colors on the elevations are not the actual proposed colors, but were only used to demonstrate design concepts


The applicant noted the following additional design contents, which were answered by the applicant and staff:

·         The applicant would like to present an interactive computer “Sketch-Up” model at preliminary design review to demonstrate the effects of sun; Commissioners noted that this would be an acceptable model for preliminary design review stage

·         The applicant is proposing a water feature represented by the “focal point” area of the site plan

·         The applicant is working with Parks staff to coordinate with the sculpture garden

·         The service drive would drop down to the lower parking level on the north side of the building.

·         The level of care would be for ambulatory patients

·         The glass vertical sections of the building were intended to visually break up the building into two sections

·         The buffer on the south side of the building would be heavily landscaped with a walking loop for assisted living residents

·         The benefits of the two proposed 76th Ave SE elevations

·         The use of landscaping to create privacy and security for first floor residents, along with security systems and motion lighting


Commissioners had the following suggestions and comments for the design to be considered in the preliminary design submittal:

·         The glass tower on the northwest corner is a good idea and the applicant could present it with more detailing; the gateway impact of that corner is important

·         A mix of options 1 and 2 of the design would be helpful (ex. Combine roof elements)

·         Examine the potential for public space opportunities on the south side of the building to take advantage of the sun

·         Examine options for placing a public pedestrian pathway on the south side of the building to connect 76th Ave SE and Sunset Way

·         Study placement of a shuttle van drop off area; there is no on-street parking area on 76th Ave SE; could include a drop-off court which would also add building modulation

·         Look at options for upper story setbacks

·         Create an interactive pedestrian environment for the west side of the building as well as the east

·         Consider opening street level amenities to public use





Council Liaison Report:                                                                                                   

Jim Pearman, Council Liaison, noted that on January 18, 2005, the Design Commission would have a Joint Study Session with the City Council to discuss the design review process.  Mark Hinshaw would present information and suggestions. 


Councilmember Pearman also noted that the Luther Burbank Park process for public input is coming to a close, and that the Boys and Girls Club may soon be considering a new location and building adjacent to the School Administration building. 


Director’s Comments:                         

Director Hart noted that the Joint Study Session would start at 6pm on January 18, and should allow everyone to gain the maximum benefit from Mark Hinshaw’s comments on the design review process. 


Director Hart stated that there will be several large projects coming in for design review in the next couple of months and attendance of all Commissioners is very important.  If Commissioners are unable to attend, they should review the minutes and brief themselves if they miss a meeting. 


Next Regular Meeting:

The next Design Commission meeting is scheduled for January 26th at 7:30 PM.  Design review for a porte-cochere for Corry’s Dry Cleaning and a study session for a new building at the Mercer Village Shopping Center are on the agenda at this time. 


Commissioner Absences:

All Commissioners indicated that they could attend the next meeting. 


Adjournment:  9:35 PM


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