175 Second Street – Increase height, less parking, no set backs – Altered 2014 design

November 28, 2017 – This Planning Board agenda happening today. 

Please see attached images to show the before and after. This was postponed until November 28th. There was a presentation last Monday, where the interpretations of the RDP were debated. All we can do is go in front of the planning board on Tuesday, say how we see the RDP and what a transition zone should be and to ask the board to take into account the intended purpose of this RDP is – to compliment the warehouses to the south and work with the existing townhouses on the block, as well as the low-built, historic neighborhood to the west.

I first want to say – these opinions are my own – I have not had the opportunity to present anything to PADNA.

This is exactly the problem with waiting until the last minute to talk to the community about a major change and using a loophole meant for other parts of this block to abuse the spirit of the Powerhouse Arts District Redevelopment Plan.

Adam Knoll from Shuster Development sent over the new and final site plan to me November 13th, yesterday – only after we had to ask for a look.
The new design continues maximizing the density of this block to the point that the two remaining original 4-story townhouses on Marin Blvd. will sandwich a 13-story+ penthouse in addition to another roof. Blank walls will be visible from both sides as you drive/walk down Marin Blvd.

The RDP states that the Transition Zone “… and to create an attractive street front along Marin Boulevard that extends the building lines that were created by the existing structures along Marin Boulevard in Block 11502.” page 43.

The following was written to specifically save Marin Blvd from over building to the point of writing instructions of maximum heights and minimum set back to achieve this aesthetic.

b. Block 11502, Lots 1, 11, 12, 13, and 14, (formerly Block 173 lots C, D, E, F,  and  G) as they  exist  at  the  time  of  adoption  of  this plan,  shall  be permitted a maximum height of sixty-five (65) feet.

4.  Maximum FAR: 7:1

Minimum Setback Requirements:
Abutting Marin Boulevard: A minimum ten foot (10′) setback is required
at the top of the fourth story.

A previous city planner created a form-based “bonus” – ignoring bulk established for this RDP, that creates extremely dense construction in what was supposed to be a transition zone as the buildings along the waterfront move west to R-4 two-story homes. Attached is the only design that the community has seen.
Inline image 1Inline image 2Inline image 3
The 2014 design was flawed with the 12+ story blank wall seen on the north side, as it hovers over the backyard of an existing 4-story townhouse. The 2017 design now eliminates the 65-foot height restriction and moves this blank wall to the property’s edge on Marin Blvd. Unfortunately, the 2014 design never addressed the setback required at 4th story.  There is still no setback.
Now there is a 13-story with a penthouse abutted to Marin with blank walls along both north and south of the property lines. It does not “…create an attractive street front along Marin Boulevard that extends the building lines that were created by the existing structures along Marin Boulevard”. 
Somehow the common height restriction, claiming that any building in the transition zone can be the same height as historically significant Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Headquarters building located at Block 11509, Lot F2 (144-158 Bay Street), which  is 114’8″ in height from grade to the base of the primary cornice.” – is lost. These buildings, including bulk head roof top are 176+ feet tall! We question how the architect was able to create that much height from one additional story. Apparently it’s very complicated, but possible to gain some height – but one story should be 9 feet like the rest of the building, not 21 foot tall penthouse story with a pool on the roof. 


Shuster Developers never approached the public or Ward E councilperson to present this new design over the last year. We come to find out about it by seeing this on week ahead’s agenda, pointed out to me by a new Community Development Committee.

I asked Adam Knoll to postpone (he said they couldn’t) their presentation and instead present to the entire downtown community that walks and drives along Marin Blvd. To sell this design to us, not sneak it in under a flawed loop hole.
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