By Melissa Michelson, Alhambra Preservation Group Board of Directors
In early August, Alhambra Preservation Group‘s newly formed Advocacy and Action Committee held its first meeting with APG members Janet Ervin, Lily Nitta and Gigi Xu attending. They discussed and developed a mission statement and agreed to hold regular meetings once a month or on an as-needed basis. The group also attended the Design Review Board meeting and went on a site visit. The group decided that the mission of the Advocacy and Action Committee should be ‘By regularly reviewing staff reports, attending City Council and committee meetings (like Design Review Board and Planning Commission), regularly communicating with the APG Board and calling APG members to action, we the Advocacy and Action Committee aim to promote the mission of APG by encouraging community participation in the efforts to preserve and protect the historical, architectural and cultural integrity of the community. The mission reflects the mission of APG: Through education, advocacy and awareness-building programs, Alhambra Preservation Group seeks to ensure that the historical, architectural and cultural resources of our city are identified, protected and celebrated for their contributions to Alhambra’s heritage, economy and environment.
Design Review Board Meeting
After initially meeting at the Diner on Main, members of the Advocacy and Action Committee attended the Design Review Board (DRB) on August 9, where 1237 Main Street, a mid-century medical building on the corner of Vega and Main Street, was on the agenda. Committee members then went to visit the property.
While at the DRB, the Advocacy and Action Committee’s message was clear: Yes, the building is in a state of disrepair; however, this mid-century medical office building is a gem that deserves to be preserved. Its unique interior which includes all-wood cabinetry, cork floors, rounded corners and exposed brick are classic characteristics of mid-century architecture. Committee members expressed to the Design Review Board that it is their hope that the existing medical building is creatively and thoughtfully incorporated and maintained as part of the developer’s plans, along with the advice and expertise of the city’s Design Review Board.
What the architect has in store:
- Demolish 1940s two-story 1453 sq. ft. wood house and 1951 15,188 sq. ft. brick single-story medical building
- Build 14,125 sq ft, single- story contemporary style building in north east corner of lot, with parking lot in front with 71 stalls and 4-8 bike parking slots.
- Two driveways from Main Street (compared to current building which is along the sidewalk)
- Demolish the double-story wood house on the lot next door
- Re-use/recycle the brick for landscaping, for planters, etc.
- Bring in vintage wood to the interior
- A lobby-feature wall to reflect the site and surrounding area, and include an informational plaque
The architect mentioned structural and seismic concerns, having to put a new roof on the current building and that a community meeting from neighbors was held and all feedback was positive, but was neither asked nor offered details on those during the meeting. At the time of this writing, APG is waiting to hear from the architects (Market Street Development) for more details about the community meeting.
The DRB was interested in using existing brick, perhaps because surrounding single-story buildings also showcase brick; however, according to the architect’s plans available for public viewing at City Hall, the majority of the proposed building is painted stucco, with one exterior feature wall of wood. One DRB member preferred that the parking be located behind the building as it is currently but was told that Public Works wants to avoid that to minimize traffic on the residential streets. It is unclear to the Advocacy and Action Committee after looking at the plans, where the recycled brick will be used because the majority of the property will be a parking lot.
The DRB gave approval and recommended for the majority of the brick to be used for a new façade. One DRB board member suggested the architects look into finding a way to move the house or salvage it.
The Site Visit
On the lot is the medical building and a 2-story house. On Vega Street across from the property, there is currently an empty commercial lot so there is potential for a driveway there rather than solely on Main Street. Neither building has visible structural damage. In fact, the older home is in better shape than the brick medical building.
The next Planning Commission Meeting is Monday, August 29, 2016.
The next meeting for the Design Review Board is Tuesday, September 6, 2016.
If you would like to join APG’s Advocacy and Action Committee, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.