Downsize then Birely demo unnecessary, Patrick St frontage is disaster – HPC SPEAKING NOTES

Commissioners: there’s a very powerful concept that we haven’t heard a word about in many hours of slides as if it is beyond the pale of respectable discussion — that word is downsize, make smaller, slim down this project. There’s no magic about 200 rooms and 20,000sf of meeting space. There’s nothing sacrosanct about a ballroom for 600. Why not for 400 people? Make the hotel 120 rooms or 140 guest rooms, the meeting space 10,000sf. Dump the gymnasium, or the spa, or a business center.

Some serious reductions like that will surely turn up a bunch of practical alternatives to demolition of the tannery.

The Guidelines say: “Demolition will only be considered when all possible alternatives to preservation have been exhausted.” (Chapter 11, paragraph C p147)

The Guidelines say “all possible alternatives” not just all of Pete Plamondon’s alternatives. And downsizing this project is surely the key to making it fit the site without demolition of a historic building of unusual importance that is also eligible for listing on the national register of historic places. Let’s have some discussion of that, some slides, some site plans, some models of a downsized H/CC.

Second point. The design of the Patrick Street frontage is a disaster. Twin, two lane driveways, four lanes of driveway. It is bad enough having a single left-in, left-out driveway onto an arterial road, even on a collector road is bad enough, but to double them up with 2 separate but adjacent 2-way driveways for the parking garage and the service dock, that compounds the mess. It breaks all the rules of ‘access management’ in the Land Management Code which specifies 150ft separation on a collector, 400ft on an arterial. It is also too close to the signals of the Carroll St intersection to have any driveway.

This twin 2-way driveways scheme will be dead on arrival at the City Planning Commission.

Plus it is ugly. You can’t claim to be supporting a walkable downtown when you make pedestrians on the south side of Patrick Street cross four lanes of driveways.

Looking further in this scheme wastes space on open driveways and squanders the opportunity, as Ms Murphy pointed out (in her staff report) to strengthen the street frontage along Patrick St.

Why not three stories of guest rooms or, better the meeting rooms and services under and the ballroom over, right there on the Patrick St frontage, right on the sidewalk of Patrick St like the Burr Artz library. The library has a strong Patrick St sidewalk frontage and a strong Carroll Creek frontage too. It is a template.

Then you leave the Birely Tannery alone. Build on the Patrick St frontage and simplify the vehicular access to a sidewalk crossover of a single lane, one-way like Patrick St.

I suggest the applicants be pressed to rethink the wasteful, dysfunctional, ugly Patrick St frontage and that they be pressed also on downsizing as ways to save the tannery.  PSam 2017.08.31

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