Twilite Center project gets approval, with sidewalk condition

Plans for an office building on the site that was once planned for a Boston’s Pizza got initial approval from the city’s Design Review Board this week.

Three members of the DRB attended the meeting and one had to recuse himself because he was the landscaper on the project. It was the same situation at the DRB meeting two weeks prior and the board had to rescind and redo their vote on the new Papa Murphy’s site because that board member didn’t properly recuse himself from the vote.

Unfinished foundation at Twilite Center is no more, office building proposed in its place

The foundation on Smelter Avenue at the Twilite Center was recently removed and the property owners are proposing a two-story office building for the site.

Under the proposal, each story will have 5,000 square feet and the upper level will house J&K Property Management and J&K Realty and the lower level will provide office space for future tenants, according to the staff report. The site is zoned C-2 General Commercial.

The site plan includes a main entrance off of Smelter Ave NE and is located within a larger tract of office buildings with access from multiple parking lots. The conceptual parking layout includes 49 spaces, three of which are ADA accessible, according to the staff report. Interior sidewalks are included to create safe pedestrian circulation throughout the site, according to the staff report. The sidewalks were proposed at five feet wide but staff recommended seven feet width or installing wheel stops.

City code requires five foot sidewalks, but policy within the planning office has been to request seven-foot sidewalks in parking areas or wheel stops, since large vehicles often park close to the curb and infringe on the sidewalk. The additional sidewalk width allows for safe pedestrian connectivity throughout the city, especially for wheelchairs, said planner Erin Borland. Part of city code details the need for safe pedestrian circulation and staff has some discretion in promoting those goals, according to city officials.

Bill Stuff, architect for the project, asked if they could compromise at six feet, which was ultimately accepted by the DRB. The applicant didn’t want to use wheel stops since they believed they would hinder snow plowing.

Stuff said the seven-foot sidewalk would significantly increase the project cost and requested the compromise of six feet. Stuff said the project team thought they’d be able to reuse the old foundation, but turns out it wouldn’t meet city code so it had to be removed and that was an additional unexpected cost.

John Lind, owner of J&K said, they have 10 people now, but they’re in the process of expanding and they expect to have 15 realtors and add at least three more staff to property management.

“This is a big undertaking for us,” Lind said. “We are not rich people.”

The DRB voted to recommend approval of the project with six-foot sidewalks as a condition.

The City Commission is accepting applications to serve on the Design Review Board.  There is currently one opening to fill the remainder of a three-year term expiring March 31, 2019.

The City Commission is accepting applications to serve on the DRB. There is currently one opening to fill the remainder of a three-year term expiring March 31, 2019.  Learn more or find an application here. The board typically meets the second and fourth Monday of the month at 3 p.m. Applicants must be city residents.