Image: DSC Design via Arlington County
The architect working on the Pierce Queen Apartment complex expressed a little annoyance after the Site Plan Review Committee meeting last night. During the meeting, Douglas Carter, president of DCS Design, presented plans for the redevelopment at the corner of N. 16th and N. Pierce streets.
The plans would knock down three buildings on the site and replace them with a 12-story, 186-unit tower. Two remaining historic buildings along 16th Street would remain--gutted and renovated--to make 12, large apartments. Forty percent of the 198 units in all would be affordable.
Members of the SPRC, which included some planning commissioners, expressed concern with the site design, including the location of the parking garage and its entrances, the location of a pedestrian walkway that cuts through the block, the location of the tower's front door, and even the need for preservation of the two historic buildings.
SPRC member Larry Mayer said he was just “not comfortable” with the site design as it was presented.
“We’re talking about utilities on poles. By God, that’s nuts,” he said. He referred to plans that would move electrical transformers and switches from fenced spaces on the ground to the tops of poles similar to telephone poles. The wires would run down the poles and underground.
“We followed that sector plan almost to the exact T,” DCS's Carter said after the meeting, and yet the SPRC suggested the changes above. Carter said they placed the walkway where they did because the sector plan called for it there. They preserved the historic buildings because the county said they wanted to preserve them, Carter retorted.
During the meeting Carter asked how much flexibility there was in the sector plan. He was told by Cole and planning commissioner Nancy Iacomini that there was flexibility, and that the SPRC would be looking to balance the site plan with the extra density of the new building.
The developer is getting bonus density on the site because the building will be LEED Silver certified and because they are offering 79 apartments at affordable rates.
Bonus density means the developer can construct a larger building than zoning allows on the site. Wesley Housing Development, and Bozzuto Development corporations are getting about 50,000 square feet of bonus density.
After the meeting Iacomini said the bonus density the developer is receiving was not factored into the original sector plan, completed in 2008. For that reason, some commissioners are taking the bonus density and trying to “make it work better on the site,” Iacomini said.