On May 3, Davis City Council voted in favor of the Peña housing site project concept. This would relocate the Peña house and use the land to provide more housing for senior citizens in the downtown area.
The project is headed by four local couples, collectively known as 4th D LLC. The couples are now in the process of preparing the final application.
The Peña house is located at 337 D St., next to Alpha Epsilon Pi and across the street from the Davis Community Church. The couples, Richard and Carol Bourne, Lance and Maria Porter, Kyriacos and Kiely Anthanoasiou and Don Morrill and Sue Barton, bought the property back in 2009.
The former owner of the house is Narcissa Peña. She was a descendant of a Davis pioneer family and lived in the house until her death in 2008. The cottage is said to date back to at least 1890. The property owners agreed to honor the Peña family with a permanent memorial site when they bought the property.
4th D LLC’s design plan consists of a three-story building, with four ownership flats, rentable office space and four garages. The design of the flats will fit with some of the council’s goals.
“By providing higher-density downtown housing, bringing senior owner-occupants downtown, and implementing a sustainable-design, zero-net energy building,” Richard Bourne said.
The Old North Davis Neighborhood Association supports the development of the land; however, they are concerned with issues of safety.
In the design plan, the garages face Fourth Street, an area with car traffic and pedestrians. 4th D LLC stated at the council meeting that the cars in the garage would rarely be used because of future residences’ proximity to downtown. However, the main concern for the association is pedestrian safety during busy hours of the day and events.
“Even if it’s relatively infrequent, we don’t think the notion that cars might back across that sidewalk out of any of the four garages [is going] to be comfortable for a family walking to the Farmers Market,” said Steve Tracy, president of the association. “We often see children running ahead of parents down that sidewalk.”
The entire property is 6,030 square feet, and the project will need to cover 5,475 square feet. Since the project will use most of the space, the Peña house will mostly likely be demolished or moved into another nearby location. If the house is moved, it will be to a neighborhood with similar architectural designs.
Another concern regarding the Peña house was deciding if it qualified as a local landmark or a historical resource.
Mayor Joe Krovoza is in support of the concept.
“The issue before the council was whether the house itself is a historic resource, and the sense of the council seems to be no, but we will decide if findings from staff warrant this as a final determination,” said Krovoza, in an e-mail interview. “I just hope the residences in the surrounding area will like [the project].”
If the final application is not approved, the project will end and the Peña house will stay where it is presently.
KIMBERLY LAW can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.