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Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Call To Order

Chairman McDonald called the meeting to order at 7:38 PM in the Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington.

Roll Call

Attila Laszlo, Norman Sandler, Carl Bryant, Marcia Dawson, George Wittman, and Chairman McDonald were present. Vice Chairman Glick was absent.

Staff Present

Richard Hart, DSG Director



Regular Business

Action Item #1. Preliminary Design Review and Approval for new construction of Newell Court, a residential/commercial mixed-use project at 3011 78th Avenue SE in the Town Center. (DSR 0011-001)

Richard Hart, DSG Director, summarized the staff report for the mixed-use project. The Commission had a few questions about the pedestrian walkway along the north end of the proposed development and its use and connection to the property to the west.

Roger Newell, architect for the owner, made the applicant’s presentation for the project. The Design Commission asked for clarification on the following issues:

  • Future development restrictions the Design Commission might apply on adjacent
  • Colors and materials
  • Building ingress/egress
  • Vehicular access from the garage to the commercial space.
  • Courtyard use and public seating
  • Service access on the north and recycling
  • Intention to save street trees
  • Use of windows and the cornice design
  • Design and placement of the glass vestibule in the courtyard
  • Rationale for lack of a pitched roof
  • Immense mass of the structure and rational for orientation to the north and south
  • Use of decks and amount of orientation towards the courtyard

The following members of the public offered comments in support of the project: Andy Maloof, Linda Soha, and Greg Steinhauer. The following individual asked a question about the amount of parking for the commercial space and restrictions that would apply.

The Design Commission then discussed at length the various elements of the specific design presented. Several areas of concern were outlined and the Commission asked for clarification, explanation and further study of the following areas:

  • The mass of the structure.
  • The orientation of the project to the north and south with limited exposure to the east or the streetscape frontage.
  • The design of the courtyard and need for expansion and use as a public space.
  • The scale and proportion of the building in relation to the streetscape.
  • Blank walls along 78th Avenue.
  • Use of the glass element/atrium in the courtyard.
  • Selection of the cornice design and lack of a pitched roof.
  • Need for greater building modulation.
  • Need for greater expression in the mezzanines/breaking up of the horizontal lines.
  • Take better advantage of the views into the courtyard with addition of more windows in the blank walls.

The Design Commission concluded the project was not at the stage for preliminary approval and requested that the project be continued until the meeting of November 28th.

Motion: Commissioner Wittman moved, 2nd by Commissioner Dawson, to continue the preliminary design review for the Newell Court mixed-use project until the regular meeting of November 28, 2001 subject to the architect addressing the following items with further discussion, design alternatives and clarification:

  1. Reconsider the relationship of the north and south façades to potential redevelopment of the adjacent properties. There is a need to better modulate or step back these facades to provide light an air to the residential units of this project and any future development.
  2. Consider how your dwellings will be impacted if adjacent properties are also developed with multi-story mixed-use projects.
  3. Provide improved direct circulation and access from the underground parking to the commercial space.
  4. The project footprint and building mass has been maximized at the expense of needed façade modulation and stepping back of upper story units to provide light and air on the north and south elevation. Rethink how this can be modified.
  5. Rethink the design of the peaked roof in the courtyard.
  6. Rethink the shared entrance between the commercial and residential spaces.
  7. Study an improved access for garbage disposal by the tenants.
  8. Study how a drop-off point could be provided for tenants on the site.
  9. Modify the blank wall on 78th Avenue with additional modulation or articulation.
  10. The multi-story glass atrium seems too dominant. Rethink how this space relates to the residential units that share this space and its visibility to the public spaces.
  11. Improve articulation of the through-block pedestrian path for greater interest.
  12. Widen the path to 4-5 feet and add recessed benches.
  13. Add patterned concrete in the service court.
  14. Consider the addition of balconies along 78th to take advantage of this street façade and modulate the wall surface.
  15. Soften the stairwell from the garage to the service court possibly with landscaping.
  16. Indicate the railing design for all balconies.
  17. Strengthen the trellis designs to make them more substantial and prominent.
  18. Develop or improve the courtyard, including addition of benches to increase the usability of this public amenity.
  19. Reflect the mezzanine design in the building façade.
  20. Rethink the cornice design, breaking up the cornice to give a more residential character and stronger expression of the residential units. It has a dominant commercial look that may not be desirable.
  21. Extend glazing the full height where the mezzanine spaces occur.
  22. Repeat the terra-cotta accent colors from the 78th Avenue façade on the other facades.
  23. Consider revising unit plans F and G to take advantage of the terrace and courtyard.
  24. Explain how security or any gating in the parking garage will occur and how customers will have access to parking for use of ground floor retail use.
  25. Give more expression to the roof design, as the cornice should not be a continuation of the building façade.
  26. Add windows from the corridors overlooking the courtyard.

The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

Action Item #2. Design Review and Approval for Minor Exterior Modification to the Recessed Glass Entrance Doorway of Walgreens Drugstore at 7707 SE 27th Street.

DSG Director Richard Hart summarized the staff report and how the proposed modification, as submitted, to remove the recessed entrance failed to meet the specific design guidelines of the Town Center Regulations.

David Brewster, Lahfdany Construction, made the presentation for the applicant, Walgreens Drugstore. No members of the public offered any testimony or comment.

The Commission asked the applicant questions concerning the need and desire for removing 100% of the recessed doorway entrance. They inquired if the applicant might accept a small reduction in the amount of space devoted to the recessed doorway and a removal of the 45-degree angle of the glass door. They commented that a three (3) foot reduction in the recessed doorway would still leave about seven (7) feet plus the area of the sidewalk and amount to enough space to qualify for meeting the conditions of the Town Center design standards. The Commission and applicant agreed this was a reasonable compromise that would still meet the specific requirements and intent of the amenity of a recessed entrance doorway as given approval by the previous Commission.

MOTION: Commissioner Sandler moved, 2nd by Commissioner Wittman, to grant design approval for a minor exterior modification to the Walgreens Drugstore for reduction of the space devoted to the recessed doorway entrance subject to the following condition:

  1. The recessed doorway entrance may be moved outward to the north up to three (3) feet from its existing location with or without removal of the 45 degree angle glass entrance door.

The vote on the motion was 6-0.

Other Business

Director Hart had no comments.

Commissioners’ Absences:
Commissioner Glick at the next meeting.

Council Liaison Report:
Councilmember Cairns made a few comments on Council issues and the Town Center parking issues.

Next Regular Meeting:
NOVEMBER 14, 2001, with the Covenant Shores Expansion and proposed new Library Signs.

10:25 PM

[Important Note: The proceedings of the Design Commission meeting were recorded on tape and are on file with the Development Services Group. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also available from the Development Services Group.]


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