HPC correctly denied affordable housing proposal
Your recent article “Affordable housing developers appeal denial of Aspen project” seems primarily designed to represent the developer’s interests and needs some clarification for the record.
Your reporter is incorrect in supporting the developer’s claim that the project meets all the requirements of the land-use code. The code (section 26.415.070) contains the provisions governing an application for development on a designated historic property and “conformance with the design guidelines and other applicable Land Use Code sections” is part of the assessment. As such, the Historic Preservation Commission guidelines are part of the code and the commissioners were absolutely correct in determining that this project did not comply with important historic preservation guidelines regarding mass and scale and open space.
I refer you to HPC guidelines 1.7 (open space), 11.3 and 11.4 (mass and scale). For example, guideline 11.4, which relates to the new structure, states “design a front elevation to be similar in scale to the historic building. The primary plane of the front shall not appear taller than the historic structure.” It strains credibility for city staff to say that the three-story housing structure behind the one-story historic cabin meets this guideline.
Also, your reporter fails to mention that this lot is 30% smaller than what is required to place a multi-family development on a site in this zone district. This project is granted an exception solely due to the historic resource and enforcement of the historic preservation guidelines helps ensure that the development is balanced with the protection of that resource. The neighbors of this property have welcomed a smaller affordable housing project that does not overwhelm the historic resource and provides for higher quality housing and more open space for the residents to enjoy.
For an example of quality, affordable-housing, take a look at the city’s own 802 W. Main St. project where there are 900 square feet of lot area per bedroom. This project has 365 square feet of lot area per bedroom. Why cheer lead for cramped, poorly designed housing?
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