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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Call To Order:

Vice-Chair Norman Sandler called the regularly scheduled Design Commission meeting to order at 7:35 PM in the Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington. 


Roll Call:

Vice-chair Sandler, Commissioners Marcia Dawson, Lucia Pirzio-Biroli, and George Wittman were present.  Commissioner Callie Ridolfi was absent.  Commissioner Brian Caditz arrived at 7:38pm and Chairman Fred Glick arrived at 7:40pm. 


Staff Present:

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



Commissioner Pirzio-Biroli moved to amend the minutes of February 9, 2005 to reflect that Jessica Mosher opposed the Albertsons sign for both the size and that it would create a “strip-mall” feel, and that staff would provide the Design Commission with an answer as to whether the Albertsons/Sav-On sign qualifies as one sign or two.  Commissioner Dawson seconded the amendment.  The amendment passed 6-0.  Commissioner Dawson moved, Commissioner Wittman seconded, to approve the amended minutes of February 9th, 2005.  The minutes were approved by a vote of 6-0.


Regular Business:


Action Item 1:

The applicant, Weber + Thompson for EraCare Communities, seeks Design Commission preliminary approval to build a 131-unit 5-story independent and assisted retirement living development with sub-grade parking and a public plaza with associated public park improvements.  This application came before the Design Commission for a study session on January 12, 2005. 


Vice-chair Sandler began by stating that his architecture firm works on similar project but felt that this would not create a conflict of interest on his part.


Shelley Bolser, Associate Planner, gave the staff presentation.  Mrs. Bolser described the staff report, including façade treatments and the applicant-proposed improvements in the adjacent Mercer Island Sculpture Garden.  Mrs. Bolser described how the applicant has worked with the Parks Department to coordinate improvements in the park.  The applicant has also worked with the City to coordinate a short-term parking pocket on 76th Ave SE.  Staff recommended that the applicant provide further details of certain items at the final design review stage, incorporate additional modulation on the east and south elevations, and examine potential options for a shared driveway from Sunset Highway with the future development to the east (currently Travelodge).     


Kristen Scott of Weber + Thompson at 425 Pontius Ave N, Ste #200 in Seattle WA is the architect for the applicant.  Ms. Scott described the evolution of the design since the study session on January 12, 2005.  Ms. Scott noted the parking pocket, plaza, circulation plan, floor plan, rooftop appurtenance plan, materials and colors, glass towers, roof forms, and change to the façade as a result of the staff report. 


Dar Webb of 3407 241st Place SE in Issaquah, WA continued the applicant presentation.  Mr. Webb described the landscaping, process of improvements in the sculpture garden, and landscape furniture. 


Commissioners had questions, which were answered as follows:

·         The public courtyard would be bounded by gates at the café area and outdoor dining area.  The gates would be provided as “garden features” and would be closed at night.

·         There is a 4 to 5 foot grade change between the park and the courtyard

·         The water feature would be primarily visible to the outdoor dining area (private), but also visible from the fire pit (accessible to the public) and the sculpture garden.  The water feature would include uplighting.

·         The applicant is continuing to work with the Parks department on common issues of the improvements on City property.

·         The new proposed design as of 3/23/2005 includes additional shed roofs on the north and south facades.

·         The west façade now incorporates a change of color and materials at the second story and setbacks at the top story


There was one public testimony from Steve Bryan of 2420 76th Ave SE in Mercer Island.  Mr. Bryan was in favor of the project in general, but was concerned about improvements in the City sculpture garden.  He felt that automobile connectivity is lacking in the Town Center and Sunset Highway should eventually be connected to 76th Ave SE.  Mr. Bryan was concerned that expensive improvements at this site would prevent any potential future connection.  Mr. Bryan also stated that the west and north facades are perceived as 6 stories, even though the lowest floor is classified as a basement.


Director Richard Hart noted that the building height calculation and code definition of the lowest story is administratively reviewed under MICC Chapter 19, will meet code requirements, and is not the purview of the Design Commission.


Anna Sotelo of 2420 76th Ave SE spoke in response to Mr. Bryan’s comments.  Ms. Sotelo stated that she is one of the owners of Ana’s Mexican Restaurant and was under the impression that the green space in the sculpture garden was designed to replace green areas displaced by I-90 and could never be turned into a street.  She stated that it is heavily used by pedestrians and wondered if the City would be taking responsibility for the improved areas. 


Director Hart explained that this area was part of the I-90 turn back agreement, which may not even permit use as a automobile right of way, but staff will examine the I-90 agreement. 


Chairman Glick closed the public testimony period.


Commissioners discussed the following items:

·         The Design Commission prefers that the applicant seek a shared driveway with the future development to the east

·         Commissioners were concerned that the building did not incorporate modulation in the form of setbacks at the second story, and that the building didn’t incorporate sufficient horizontal and vertical modulation or sufficient variety of roof forms.

·         Commissioners raised concerns about transparency and shading for residents regarding the corner glass tower

·         Commissioners noted that the walls between the sculpture garden and the public courtyard areas need to be low and not visually close both areas off from each other, per MICC 19.11.050(B)(2)(b)

·         Bicycle racks should be provided on all bike-accessible facades.

·         The 76th St entrance should be recessed to provide additional modulation on the west façade.



Chairman Glick moved, and Vice-Chair Sandler seconded, to grant preliminary design approval for the proposed development located at 2430 76th Ave SE in accordance with the submitted materials date stamped February 18, 2005 and March 23, 2005.  These findings are in accordance with the Mercer Island City Code Section 19.15.040(D) and Section 19.11, subject to the following conditions:


1.       Continue the pattern of materials, colors, roof forms and upper story setbacks found on west and north facades to the east and south facades, in order to meet the criteria of MICC 19.11.010(B)(2), (B)(3), (B)(4); 19.11.060(B)(4), (B)(6), (B)(10), (B)(14); and 19.11.070(B)(2).  

2.       The applicant shall provide the following with a packet for final design review:

a.       Rooftop appurtenance placement, height, and screening per MICC 19.11.040(B)(5)

b.      Screening, per MICC 19.11.080

c.       Lighting fixture size, wattage, shielding, and placement, per MICC 19.11.090

d.      Landscaping placement, size, species, and irrigation, per MICC 19.11.100

e.       Signage details, per MICC 19.11.120

3.       Revise the building articulation on the south, west, and north sides using 2-story modulation or other acceptable methods to reduce perceived building mass, per MICC 19.11.060(B)(4) and MICC 19.11.060(B)(6).

4.       Revise the roof forms to provide a variety of roof types and configurations to meet the requirements of MICC 19.11.060(B)(10).

5.       The public plaza on the north side of the building shall be designed as open space easily accessible to the public per MICC 19.11.050(B)(2)(b)(i) and MICC 19.11.050(B)(2)(b)(ii).

6.       Bicycle racks should be added on all bicycle accessible facades, per MICC 19.11.020(C)(4).

7.       The entrance on the west façade should be recessed to emphasize an inviting entrance, per MICC 19.11.060(B)(8).

8.       The applicant should continue to work with the property owner to the east to examine the potential for a shared driveway entrance from Sunset Highway, per MICC 19.11.110(B)(1)(h)(i)(A).

The motion passed by a vote of 6-0 at 10:07pm. 


Chairman Glick called for a break until 10:15pm.


Action Item #2:

The applicant, David Hoy for 7800 LLC, requested final design approval for a new five-story mixed-use residential, retail, and office building with sub-grade parking at 7800 SE 27th St.


Chairman Glick noted that Commissioner Caditz had recused himself from the hearing, since his firm represents TSA Architects, the architect for this project. 


The applicant had come before the Design Commission for study sessions on November 13, 2002 and January 22, 2003, and received preliminary design approval from the Design Commission on February 9, 2005. 


Shelley Bolser, Associate Planner, gave the staff presentation.  Mrs. Bolser noted that the applicant had done an excellent job of responding to Design Commission comments from preliminary approval and staff only had recommendations regarding irrigation, self-closing trash area doors, and screening for meters and mechanical units.


Steve Thomas of TSA Architects at 50 116th Ave SE in Bellevue gave the applicant presentation. Mr. Thomas described changes since preliminary review, including paving at the street corners to match that of the proposed development to the west.  Mr. Thomas stated that the applicant could install self-closing doors at the trash area, and that some meters could only be placed outside the building but would be fully screened.   


Glenn Tukagi of 18550 Furlans Way North in Shoreline continued the applicant presentation.  Mr. Tukagi described landscaping opportunities for residents of the rooftop patios, landscaping at the street level, and screening landscaping on the east side of the property.  The sculpture on the northwest corner would be located outside pedestrian areas, and flat-topped sitting boulders would be provided nearby.  A specific spot for the sculpture has not yet been decided.


Commissioners had questions, which were answered as follows:

·         A more detailed description of the landscape plan

·         The art would be commissioned and permanent, since the Arts Council preferred permanent public art over revolving art.


No public comment was offered.


Commissioners discussed the following items:

·         6-foot bike racks would be preferred, but there is no code section to require it.

·         The applicant should clarify the plant schedule, including the graphics and the legend regarding size and location.

·         The art feature could go in the landscape edge at the northwest corner of the property in the public right of way.



Commissioner Dawson moved, and Commissioner Pirzio-Biroli seconded the motion, to grant final design approval for the proposed development located at 7800 SE 27th St, as presented on the submittal materials date stamped February 9, 2005, March 1, 2005, and March 2, 2005.  All new designs supercede changes in previously dated designs.  This decision incorporates the findings of the Staff Report and is in accordance with MICC Section 19.11 and 19.15.040(D), with the following conditions:

1.       The applicant shall install automatic irrigation systems in all planted areas.

2.       The doors to the trash area on the north side of the site shall be self-closing.

3.       All meters and mechanical areas shall be located inside the walls of the proposed building. 

4.       If the applicant chooses to place the art on the northwest corner in the public right of way, the art selection is subject to approval by the Arts Commission.  If the applicant chooses to place that art on private property, the selection is subject to further approval by the Design Commission.   

The motion passed by a vote of 5-0 at 10:55pm. 



Other Business


Council Liaison Report:

Jim Pearman, Council Liaison, described Council activities at the City Council meeting on Monday, March 21, 2005, including a discussion of sustainability.    


Director’s Report:

Director Hart reported on the APA conference in San Francisco that he and Shelley Bolser had recently attended.  Topics included new urbanism, parking, civic space, and design review. 


Next Regular Meeting:

The next Design Commission meeting is scheduled for April 13th at 7:30 PM.  Preliminary design review for 7700 Central at 2650 77th Ave SE in the town center and final design review for the 2-story retail and office building in the PBZ are on the agenda at this time. 


Commissioner Absences:

There are no scheduled absences at this time. 


Adjournment:   11:02 PM


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