A Downtown Davis development project that would have demolished an old cottage and replaced it with modern apartment units was struck down by the Davis Planning Commission on Wednesday.
The project, located at 233 B St., would have demolished a cottage two doors down from Ciocolat and replaced it with two modern three-story buildings. The buildings would contain four for-sale units. The commission voted against approving the project because it was not considered compatible with the architectural character of the adjacent residential neighborhood.
Unlike the other housing units on B Street, the proposed buildings have flat “green” roofs, which would host landscaping as a way of reducing heat and rainwater runoff. This was one of the biggest concerns, as the roofs on B Street are generally sloped as opposed to flat.
Local architect Maria Ogrydziak, who designed the buildings, said at the planning commission meeting that her project’s environmental benefits would extend to the entire community.
“It’s contributing back to the community because … it’s an aesthetic improvement, it helps with urban heat island effects [by] reducing and mitigating it,” she said. “It helps with stormwater runoff. I mean these are all things that again in other communities where green rooftops have been really adopted full scale, these are benefits that the community sees as a whole.“
In addition to the green roofing, the project would also be constructed with sustainable materials and would make use of natural sunlight with strategically placed windows and skylights.
Planning commissioners said they were interested in the environmental benefits of the project, but that they just didn’t feel it was appropriate for the location.
“This is a very interesting and innovative project… but this is not the right place for it,” said commissioner Ananya Choudhuri. “There are ways to do this project that will satisfy the look and feel of that corridor.“
Choudhuri and others said they were uncomfortable with the fact that the project did not meet the design guidelines created for downtown development, which are intended to preserve the character of some of the oldest neighborhoods in Davis. They said they would rather see an experiment like this done in another part of the city.
Resident Cheryl Garrity spoke during public comment in opposition to the project. She said that in the centennial year of the university, it was important to stay true to the original.
“We still have this neighborhood to remind us of our very modest beginnings,” Garrity said.
Garrity was among half a dozen speakers who came to the meeting to speak on the project. Most were opposed, but others, like Paul Minard, came to speak in support.
Minard, co-chair of the Environmental Council of Sacramento County, called the project “groundbreaking.” He said the project should be approved because it is a reinvestment in the urban core, which is much more desirable that spreading out on agricultural land on the city‘s borders.
Although the project has been rejected by the planning commission, the applicant can appeal the decision to Davis City Council. In the meantime, the cottage will remain untouched.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.