LA CRESCENTA — City planners Thursday recommended that two alternate designs for a contentious three-story mixed-use office building on Foothill Boulevard be redesigned to be visually and architecturally “lighter.”
Planners’ recommendations to Design Review Board No. 2 for the proposed building at the former Foothill Building and Lumber site at 3522 Foothill Blvd. were posted one day after developer Farshid Khosravi denied a request from the Crescenta Valley Community Assn. to access the property to put up balloons to measure the structure’s proposed heights.
In an e-mail Wednesday responding to the request, the developer’s consultant, Rodney Khan, said allowing nonemployees on the site would present liability issues if something were to go wrong. Khosravi would also insist that any measurements be done by certified professionals, a cost that “exceeds the owner’s financial ability at this point,” Khan wrote.
The developer and community association have been arguing about the height of adjacent utility poles that were supposed to act as a visual cue to the proposed building’s scale — prompting the association’s request to use balloons to measure the perimeters.
“I feel like they’re basically acting in bad faith,” said David Meyers, a member of the association. “We’re not talking about rocket science here.”
It was the latest exchange in a back-and-forth between the developer, community opponents and city commissioners, who have all offered competing visions so far of what should be built on the 33,290-square-foot lot.
The Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and other nearby residents have been lobbying for a scaled-down development that they contend would mesh more with the surrounding area, especially an adjacent single-family neighborhood.
Khosravi is proposing to demolish two existing buildings on the lot to build a three-story office and retail building with a 164-space subterranean garage.
Design Review Board members sent the proposal back in July with instructions to use a more modern architectural style, but after soliciting feedback from the community, Khan said it became apparent the neighborhood wanted a more rustic style.
The competing visions led to the unusual decision to submit two architecturally different proposals for a final design review hearing on Feb. 12.
While city planners acknowledged that the designs were an improvement, in a staff report to the Design Review Board they called for both versions to be scaled down even further with more open architecture, landscaping, toned-down colors and other “lighter” elements.
It will be up to the board to approve one of the designs, accept one with conditions, recommend a redesign or deny them altogether, Senior Planner Vilia Zemaitaitis said.
In the latter two options, Khosravi would have the option of appealing his project to the City Council, an action that both sides have already acquiesced to eventually reaching, no matter what happens in design review.
“Every time there’s been a series of comments that we can address, we did,” Khan said.
“Unfortunately, you can’t please everybody.”
JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.