Armory Park continues to attract new construction and renovation projects. The regular 17 January meeting was presented with two projects to review, one a formal review and one informal.
The informal review was for a small development on the lot at 140 E. 18th Street , between 5th and Arizona Avenues on the south side of 18th Street. The project proposes four single family houses on a resubdivision of the original large lot into four lots. As proposed, all four would face 18th Street. This was the board’s second look at the proposal which considering earlier feedback had been modified from two stories each to 1 1/2 stories with the appearance of being a single level. There was discussion of the appropriateness of the house closest to 5th Avenue facing 18th Street. Nearly all AP houses on such corners face the major avenue. The arrangement of doors and windows also attracted comments. An informal review is merely a communication between a project proponent and the board to make the formal review go smoothly and to avoid misunderstandings regarding historic zone requirements.
The formal review was of a renovation at 813 S. 5th Avenue. This is a house primarily of mud adobe finished with stucco and some brick accents. The items for review were a masonry/iron fence, porches, the roof and stucco wall finish. The discussion was very constructive as the owner and contractor offered their proposals and the board commented and then acted on them. The dialog centered on how to make the property more attractive and historic. Enlarging the front dormer with a balcony was one idea deemed inconsistent with the historic character of surroundings. The board’s findings (Legal Action Report) will go to the City/County board for their action and then to the Planning and Development Services director for his decision. An appeal could go to the Mayor and Council.
An observation: The work of the board and applicants is made more difficult by the failure of the city historic office to furnish the board with any copies of the extensive application package. The drawings, photos maps, etc. would have been very helpful during the discussions.
The city has extensive guides which apply significant detail to all historic zones and to an entire zone such as Armory Park. A more subjective but still important concept is that of rhythm (also described in the guides). Fundamentally this means that a proposed project should fit well with its surroundings. Some items considered are fence styles, setbacks, roof materials, roof styles and structure orientation. All of these came up in the evening’s discussions. Both proposed metal roofs which might have caused pushback but seemed better received because several nearby houses had similar roofs. Even if kept within historic zone limits, the height of a structure might become an issue in an area of bungalows but not so among apartment buildings. This blog’s LINKS page can direct you to pages you might find helpful.
The work of the APHZAB is very important to the community and to those who propose exterior construction on AP structures. Improved understanding of the process and the logic behind it will helpful to to all of us.