Friday, December 11, 2015

West Salem Goodwill at Planning Commission; City Whiffs on Second Street

On Tuesday the 15th the Planning Commission will be looking at the Proposed Goodwill store and development project in West Salem.

Proposed West Salem Goodwill from Edgewater
Formally, it's a "consolidated zone change, class 3 design review, class 3 site plan review, class 2 zoning adjustment, and class 2 driveway approach" and there are 136 pages in the Staff Report and submittal packet.


There are a couple of interesting things about it. From here there are details to quibble over, but overall it doesn't seem like anything not to approve ultimately. Staff Recommendation is for "approval" with conditions. But it handles the question of Second Street in what looks to be very wasteful fashion.

Ninety Degree Turn

The first interesting thing, something we've remarked on before, is the 90-degree rotation that puts the main axis and entry on the parking lot instead of along Edgewater.

This is discussed in the Staff Report:
The applicant explains that the Goodwill building was oriented to provide the longer facade interior to the site versus along Edgewater Street due to several site conditions. First, there is a significant grade change that takes place onsite which results in the finished building floors at approximately 144 feet; or, approximately three (3) feet above the adjacent Edgewater Street right-of-way. The elevation difference prohibits entries directly from the building onto the adjacent right-of-way walkway as large ramps would be required for ADA accessibility; this is demonstrated by the ramping at the required egress door on the south facade of the Goodwill building and the egress and utility room door on the Shops 1 building east facade. The plan maintains an entry as close to the street as is feasible with grade transitions and ADA requirements while ensuring that the entry is still clearly visible and inviting from the right-of-way.

The applicant indicates that the provided plan also allows for the loading area to be maintained as far from the Edgewater Street right-of-way as possible; allows for separation of truck traffic from the desired pedestrian traffic along Edgewater and the main entry; and minimizes onsite truck maneuvering which increases both vehicular and pedestrian safety.

The applicant explains that while the longest side of the building is not facing Edgewater, which in turn increases the parking along Edgewater, the amount of parking provided does not exceed that allowed by the Standards (33.4% provided versus 50% allowed). Additionally, it is explained that the plan does not preclude additional future development in any of the parking areas fronting on Edgewater. Lastly, the attractive, active and safe pedestrian environment along Edgewater is maintained through changes in building materials, pedestrian scale lighting, overhead canopies, ample windows, accessible and clearly visible entries, minimized building setbacks and truck traffic utilizing the 2nd street entry.
I don't know. Staff "concurs" with this analysis, and it's hard to say that things for sure should be otherwise. I certainly wish the building addressed Edgewater in a more pleasing and friendly way, a way that imitates "main street," streetcar-era development. But maybe realistically this is the best that can be done.

The South Elevation along Edgewater
In any case, here is what is proposed for you to see along the Edgewater sidewalk. There are windows whose lower sill will be 5' high, and one band of colored material in the bay nearest the main entry and the entry itself. The applicant's description illustrates the gyrations necessary when we don't actually face the street with an entry or other active and meaningful details. It will be ok, but not great.
Edgewater Street Corridor Overlay Zone Code: Ground floor building facades facing Edgewater Street shall include transparent windows to ensure that the ground floor promotes a sense of interaction between activities in the building and activities in the public realm.
Applicant Response: The Goodwill building provides approximately 78 lineal feet (55%) and 730 square feet (20.8%) of windows. In response to incompleteness comments the sills of the Goodwill building were lowered to ensure ample views at an average eye height of five (5) feet. The Goodwill building increased the glazing area from 19% to 20.8% with the lowering of the sills.

Code: Buildings shall be human scale and avoid long monotonous exterior walls. To minimize the appearance of bulk and divide overall building mass, building offsets and building articulation shall be provided throughout building facades.
Applicant Response: The facades of the Goodwill building are given human scale, visual interest and articulation through the use of offset panels, stepped parapet heights, ample windows, canopies, and changes in materials and colors.
Update and correction:

City staff point out that there is a revised plan for the facade elevations!

Revised South Elevation from Edgewater
In the center bay the grey contrast band at bottom is added, and the blue tile band in the middle continues on the left bay.

Additionally, the Staff Report adds as a recommended condition of approval:
a. The southern facade of the building adjacent to Edgewater Street shall be modified to:
1. Extend, along the entire length of the facade, the blue tile design utilized within the other portions of the facade; and
2. Extend, along the entire length of the facade, the architecturally defined building base utilized within the middle portion of the facade.
(There's more for the other sides, but the face on Edgewater is the one we're most interested in here.)

So this doesn't change the massing and volumes and functions at all, but it will create a more interesting color palette for the eye.

Thanks for the correction!

Second Street and the Undercrossing

The other interesting thing is the whole matter of Second Street. The third through sixth recommended conditions of approval are these:
  • Construct a three-quarter street improvement on 2nd Street NW from Wallace Road NW to Melinda Avenue NW to local street standards. Obtain Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) approval as appropriate within areas of ODOT jurisdiction at the 2nd Street NW/Wallace Road NW intersection.
  • Construct a turnpike improvement of 2nd Street NW from Melinda Avenue NW to Murlark Avenue NW.
  • The applicant shall construct a median in Wallace Road NW limiting vehicular movements to and from Second Street NW to right-in and right-out only as approved by ODOT.
  • Provide signage and/or barricades to prevent pedestrian crossing at the 2nd Street NW/Wallace Road NW intersection in accordance with ODOT standards.
The current plan does not include this.
View from park side looking west - via City of Salem FB
As you know, the West Salem Business District Action Plan is proposing a below-grade undercrossing here. But since it is not yet official in any adopted plan, the approval conditions for the Goodwill have to proceed behind a veil of ignorance. So we are likely to find ourselves in the absurd position of having required Goodwill to build at significant cost an at-grade roadbed and access point on Wallace only to find the City tearing it out after a decade or less.

I don't know what the legal and administrative answer is here, but from an ordinary citizen's perspective, this is stupid.

If we think we're going to build an undercrossing here, any work that is required of the Goodwill development should be useful in the future and be oriented towards that project - not something to be wasted by built-in obsolescence and planned demolition.

Or, if the redevelopment project with the Goodwill promises to render the undercrossing impossible, then we should give up that project immediately.

The lack of coordination here seems foolish.

The Parking Lot

Of course, bike parking and the parking lot is a great interest here!

The drawings aren't actually consistent on the location for bikes.

One drawing shows racks at the main building

Another drawing shows racks at the out-buildings
I guess the drawings are additive:
The proposed 25,263 square-foot Goodwill retail store with donation center and the two commercial buildings of 3,747 square feet and 4,200 square feet in size result in a minimum bicycle parking requirement of 4 spaces. As shown on the site plan and indicated in the applicant’s written statement, the proposed development has 8 parking spaces; therefore exceeding minimum bicycle parking requirements. The bicycle parking spaces are located south of the Goodwill building main entry, at the northwest corner of the Shops 2 building, and the northeast corner of the Shops 1 building. All of the spaces are located within 50 feet of main entries and will be provided in conformance with applicable standards.
The library routinely has more than 8 bikes locked up, and it's easy to imagine that the racks here will fill up. This is an instance where our bike parking requirements in code are almost certainly inadequate.

APBP says: Don't spec these!
Since it's an out-of-town designer, Baysinger Partners from more bike-savvy Portland, hopefully they'll not spec wave racks! Racking details are also a place where Salem's bike parking requirements need to be updated.

As for car stalls, there will be 9 carpool/vanpool stalls as part of the 167 stall total. City standards call for at least 133 and no more than 233, so by City standards the total is quite reasonable. It will have 15 trees in addition to the usual shrubbery.

Outside of the head-scratcher on Second Street, most everything seems reasonable, and there's no reason not to embrace this as a great upgrade to what is currently on Edgewater at this site.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Re: Second Street

Here's maybe a better idea. At the Pacwest Center on Kuebler, rather than have the Developer construct the widening of Kuebler, the City had the Developer pay an amount that would be applied to the City's construction costs when the City executed the widening project on Kuebler.

Maybe here instead of asking the Develeloper for a 3/4 street improvement the full length, at or near the point where the road would start the decline for an undercrossing, the City should instead take a fee and apply that fee towards the future undercrossing budget.

This way no unnecessary construction is undertaken and if the undercrossing is ultimately nixed, the City could still apply the funds to Second Street.

Would something like this work?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with a correction from the City!