More Downtown Residential Housing for Lafayette?

The Lafayette Town Center Phase III was discussed and critiqued by the Lafayette planning commission -- and members of the public -- Monday night.

The Lafayette planning commission Monday heard public comment on the  project proposal for the Lafayette Town Center Phase III.

The project is a 74-unit residential building on Dewing Ave., near the Lafayette BART station. Its multi-storied roof line reaches as high as five stories in places, a height which has drawn criticism from the project's detractors.

Town Center would require an amendment to the BART block specific plan, a zoning amendment, and design review approval.

After meeting with the design review commission twice, applicant KB Homes has come back with a revised project that includes a reduced number of units and a smaller footprint, according to Senior Vice President of KB Homes Northern California, Ray Panek.

The public differed on their opinions regarding the project, with some maintaining the project was correct for the space, while others called the building height “offensive” and inappropriate for the location.

Supporters cited sustainability and increased high-density housing as positive aspects of the project.

“I believe strongly… that as a responsible community we need to use our spaces in a more responsible way. This project, in its location, is very appropriate for us moving into the 21st century,” said Lafayette’s Sean Cooley.

On the other side, Matt Heavey of Lafayette called the height of the building “staggering,” and was concerned that the project does not represent the character of Lafayette.  Many said they are worried that the project will block the views of the hillside in Lafayette, and that it will increase traffic congestion in downtown.

While most of the commission supported a residential project on this site, many were disappointed with the design and potential negative impacts of this specific project.

Commissioner Karen Maggio said she didn’t like the “boxy” architecture of the building.

“I don’t want to be too light about this, but it’s like a potato head and you just keep changing the nose and the ears and the different parts, but you’ve got the same, boxy structure,” Maggio said.

The discussion of the project was continued to the Sep. 4 planning commission meeting. After the meeting, the commission will forward a recommendation to the city council.

What do you think about this project? Does Lafayette need more housing downtown? Is it too big? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Richard Ford August 10, 2012 at 05:55 AM
If you want to see what free market consumption gets you, look no further than the inland empire just east of LA. Yuck. No thanks. Contrast that with the community of say, Petaluma, which encourages centralized growth and limits building outside of downtown. Not hard to pick the better scenario.
Scott Bowhay August 10, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Richard...regarding Petaluma, you have your facts all wrong. Just this last weekend I was appalled to see the McMansions going up on the scarred hill next to the freeway, from the bridge crossing the river...this is not "Central Petaluma",..nor are the serial developments east of the freeway. "Old Petaluma" has its charm, I agree (our family still ventures out to Little Hills Christmas Tree Farm every year), but every year the new developments come closer and closer...
Born and Raised August 10, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Douglas, I don't know if you live in Lafayette but our city's budget (general fund) is in the black. There is no need for further funds from development fees and in fact this last year there was an increase of $300,000 in planning fees. Anyone can design townhomes to attract people to live here and in fact that's what KB has done. That however isn't even the point. Potential buyers may want to live there but the structure itself does not reflect the surrounding area and in fact has a lot of asthetic negative impact. If you look around, the city's done just fine without KB's input for decades and although I don't like some of the changes in town, most do. To say our planning department knows less about how to design/build the community than KB does is apples and oranges. One cares about the populace while the other cares about profit. Our city will survive just fine without it or the money it could generate for the city, thank you very much.
Richard Ford August 10, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I know which ones you're talking about, and I'm equally appalled. These developments started before the mandate, however, and I'm wondering if this was a "deal with the devil" scenario when they were drawing development lines. Since it is so close to the freeway, I think this qualifies as centralized development, as does the waterfront that lies between those homes and the rest of downtown. But then drive in any direction -- especially south west, west, and northwest of downtown and you'll see no huge developments, and then contrast that with the inland empire where large fields of vineyards have been stripped away to make room for minimalls, apartments, and new freeways.
Joan Collis March 19, 2013 at 08:30 AM
I haven't seen S. Thompson, but I believe KB Home will not implement a project that can affect many people of anything they are doing their best to give the dream home of the customers and yet they are not sacrificing the nature and people just for their business. See more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KB_Home


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »