WALNUT CREEK — Approvals for an eight-unit, 45-foot-tall condo project that would abut Walnut Creek near Civic Park, originally granted in 2008, were on Dec. 14 extended for another year by planning commissioners who said the project, and some variances to local regulations, still appear sound today.
Despite comments from some Carmel Drive residents that the Parkway Condos building would be too tall for its neighborhood, and that its construction would require removal of a large and “highly protected” heritage oak tree, commissioners supported the project in general.
“I don’t see any circumstances causing us to reinvent the wheel,” commissioner Matt Francois said.
Parkway Condos, as proposed, would be 45 feet tall, with its eight market-rate, one-bedroom units sitting atop the residents’ 12-stall garage, each stall equipped with electrical outlets for hybrid or electric cars. The developer is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for green-building rating.
Architect David Bogstad told the commission that the Parkway Condos is a “resurrection project” in that it was first approved in 2008, but never built because of the bad real estate market that started during the previous year’s Great Recession.
“It’s now a better building … and a more expensive building,” said Bogstad, adding that its plan follows city guidelines, and has been modified in response to suggestions by the city’s Design Review Commission. “It was a project a little ahead of its time, but now it fits.”
A city report acknowledges that, from a development standpoint, Parkway Condos’ location alongside Walnut Creek presents challenges related to the steep creek bank.
The original plan had the building extending cantilever-style over the creek, but that was changed previously after concerns about creekside soil stability, which resulted in some other plan modifications requiring “variance” to city code. Those were extended by the planning commissioners Dec. 14.
Plans call for one “highly protected” tree, an interior live oak, to be removed (two others would be spared). But the planned removal, as well as the building itself, spurred Carmel Drive neighbors to talk to planning commissioners.
Ernest Sponzilli, who owns a duplex on Carmel Drive, said the building’s height, when compared to its width, would make the Parkway Condos “the first residential tower in Walnut Creek.”
Robert Thomas, another neighbor, said he had no idea how the project was ever approved. “This is a 10-pound sausage in a 5-pound casing, and it’s ridiculous,” Thomas said.
But planning commissioners said the project looked good to them. Architect Bogstad said he would be willing to work with neighbors about various issues they brought to commissioners Thursday, including preserving trees and the height of fences.
Published at Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:36:25 +0000