Historic Board, 21 March 2017

The agenda for this meeting included three project reviews. the first informal and two formal reviews.

Donna and I often walk south from our house along the east side of 4th Avenue. We have been pleased to see cleaning up around the long neglected property at 719 S 4th Avenue. The owner came to discuss his plans with the the board and to get their feedback on his ideas. He is new to Tucson but has done property restorations in California and does all of his own work. His general plan is to renovate the structure into four apartments, larger than typical in Armory Park. The biggest unit will have 1600 square feet of living space. The entrance security gate will be recessed and replacement double hung wood windows will be installed to give a more appealing curb presence and fit the rhythm of the surroundings. The courtyard is likely to have a water feature and a carport on Railroad Avenue will be another convenience for residents. Because there has been so much graffiti that can’t be entirely removed, the brick walls will be painted. There will be a brick wall along the south property line to provide privacy  for both properties. A seven foot height was proposed for the wall but the board said that six feet is the height limit. Another former eyesore is now coming back to life.

The four house development at 140 E 18th Street was back for another review. Again the main point of discussion was the proportion of the windows to the height of the walls. Because of the eight foot ceiling height in the first floor, the height of the window tops is limited and makes them look small compared to others nearby. Arches on the stucco over the windows may provide a solution. There are many examples of such in Armory Park including several north of my house on 4th Avenue. The challenge for the board was to craft their resolution correctly so that the desired window changes are properly described. The review was for a “model” home and each house will get an individual review prior to construction. This is a feature of the Flexible Lot Development process. Look at the Legal Action Report on the city website for the details.

The last review was of the vacant lot at 747 S 6th Avenue. The owner wants to remove the property from the HPZ so he can build a 48′ foot high commercial and residential building. He described one story of commercial (possibly restaurant, bakery and market) and two stories of apartments. The current height limit in Armory Park is 24′. The board is rightly concerned that the precedent of allowing properties to be removed from the HPZ would lead to carving more pieces off of Armory Park. There was extensive discussion of what is needed for a commercial project to be economically viable. Nevertheless, the board quickly resolved to oppose the removal.

After the reviews, the board had a discussion of how infill of vacant lots (a city objective) could be facilitated without hurting HPZs. Discussion of a height variance procedure for HPZs is in the early stages. If such a procedure is adopted it is likely to be a six months process involving city/county staffs, other HPZs and the related committees. Today, there is no way to permit a structure taller than the tallest “contributing structure” in an HPZ. This lack of flexibility may be more of a threat to HPZs than a height variance mechanism would be.

If you want to see further details regarding APHZAB meetings, click on any of the links below to go to the City Clerk’s APHZAB page which looks similar to this:

1) Documentation:

Current Agenda Past Agendas Reports
Current LAR Past LARs
Current Minutes and Audio Past Minutes and Audio

This will take you to the Legal Action Review for the 21 March meeting:

Current LAR:

 

 

Author: Ken Taylor

I am a relatively recent Armory Park resident (2/16) along with my wife, Donna and our little dog Lulu. In our 7+ decades, Donna and I lived over 30 years in Anchorage, Alaska before moving to Arizona. We have been Arizona residents for 16 years before coming here including 12 in Green Valley and four in west Tucson. We love the neighborhood for its history, walkability and interesting residents. Lulu insists on walking every day so you may see us following her around and picking up trash to keep our neighborhood presentable.

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