On Tuesday night the City Council voted to move forward with the senior affordable housing at the Del Monte site. The big vote for that project was to transfer City owned land to the Housing Authority, which — as someone pointed out on Twitter — could have been a place where the “no development anywhere ever” crowd could have made their stand to stop this development by not voting for the transfer. The project needed four votes to move forward.
Of course voting against anything that is for seniors is pretty much a non starter in this town much like being anti-park. The unanimous vote is a surprise (but not really because of the senior aspect) for the Councilpeople who were supposed to put the brakes on development. Yet more units to add to the list of approved housing units.
What was super lame on the part of the City Council was the question about whether or not the City Council could make modifications to the design of the senior housing. Some of the City Council people coughjimoddietrishspencercough felt as though it didn’t mesh well with the Del Monte building itself and therefore wanted to, I guess, continue to tweak at the design of the building. Of course Planning Board/City Council watchers will know that there is a statute of limitations on appealing a project once its approved. Why some City Council people don’t know this, I have no idea. For the City Council it’s way easier than some regular citizen like you or me because they can just make a “Call for Review” and not really have to put much paperwork forward or even pay a fee. Just when I have given up all hope in Tony Daysog, he then reveals moments of greatness when he points out that the idea of the senior housing design was not to make the new building matchy-matchy with the Del Monte and get a really crappy faux-historic look. Had the two Council people simply opened up the Planning Board packet to read about the design they would have learned that:
The building’s architectural design is intended to complement the historic Del Monte Warehouse. The individual pane size of the existing steel windows of the Warehouse are used as a building block for the proportions of the new apartment windows. This historic pane size defines the window sizes and placement of mullions in the proposed window types. The proportions of overhanging patio bays on the senior building reflect the grid of pilasters on the exterior brick façade of the Del Monte Building. Lastly, the senior building bays are proportioned to provide a townhome scale with porches at the ground level that complement the surrounding residential neighborhood.
In addition to the main entry way, the project addresses each public street by providing unit entries and porches along Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street. These entries activate the public streetscape and provide visual interest along pedestrian sidewalks.
Exterior finishes in the senior building, such as the balcony guardrails, window mullions and the main entrance canopy complement the industrial character of the existing Warehouse building. Proposed metal finishes such as medium bronze, natural gray galvanize and clear anodized aluminum provide a visual connection between the two projects.
The proposed senior building is primarily clad with a Portland cement plaster stucco finish which is a durable exterior material common in the surrounding residential neighborhood. Some of the colors are used to complement the Warehouse, such as the dark orange and gray‐green of the balcony bays. The remaining stucco walls either have a neutral gray as a background to the bays or are blue to contrast with the Warehouse. In some portions of the building, a wood grained siding will add a contemporary look and warm feel to the building.
So the actual design was to complement the design of the larger Del Monte building, but not try too hard to be a miniature faux-storic version of the brick building.
Anyway, I wanted to leave you with this awesome public comment by Laura Thomas of Renewed Hope housing, who is a complete rock star to me right now, on the topic of the Del Monte senior housing:
Years ago the call for senior housing, I hate to say it, came out of a prejudice, actually, that seniors were mild mannered people who wouldn’t cause any trouble, even if they were low-income. While low income families were unwanted. Period. Now that the new economy has disposed with so many middle-income jobs I hear a lot more sympathy expressed for everybody at all income levels in this town, which I think is a great improvement.
I want to make a really important point though: that building it for seniors should not be done to mollify people who don’t like affordable housing. Because that, in fact, is an act of condescension towards seniors. We should be doing it because there’s a real need and because it’s the proper way to treat the older generation in this town who looked after us in this community.