While the Victory Court ballpark EIR scoping session is getting all the attention, there are actually some other interesting items on the agenda for Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting (PDF). For one, the Director’s Report will feature a verbal update on the progress of the International Boulevard Transit Oriented Development plan, which I’m looking forward to, since I wasn’t able to make either of the meetings earlier this month.
Another interesting item is a public hearing on the Draft EIR for a project at 325 7th Street (PDF). Remember how I was describing the EIR process the other day? (Read this post for a more detailed explanation of the process) Well, this is what the next step looks like. The scoping session for this project (PDF) was held in January of 2008 (PDF), and now, two years later, Draft EIR has been completed (you can read it here (PDF) and read all the appendices here (PDF).
At Wednesday’s meeting, the public will have an opportunity to make comments on whether the EIR is sufficient in its assessment of the project’s impacts and proposed mitigations for those impacts. The Final EIR will have to respond to all the comments received, and based on what they say, at least some parts of the Draft EIR will likely be revised. Only then can the City approve the project.
325 7th Street
The subject of Wednesday’s hearing is strictly about the adequacy of the Draft EIR, not about whether or not this is a good project or whether or not the City should approve it. That comes later. But just for fun, let’s take a look at what’s being proposed.
325 7th Street is a proposed residential high rise at the edge of Chinatown, between Harrison Street and 880 and 6th and 7th. There would be two towers, one 20 stories tall and the other 27 stories tall. Together, they would contain 380 units on top of four stories of parking featuring 399 spaces. On the ground floor would be a little over 9,000 square feet of office and retail space.
Here are some renderings from the architects:
For the more detail oriented among you, you can view more renderings, plus floorplans here (PDF).
The project’s expected impacts and possible mitigation measures are detailed in the this table from the Draft EIR (PDF). Unsurprisingly, the main unavoidable impacts are traffic related, specifically causing increased delays at the intersections of 5th and Oak and 6th and Jackson.
The other main issue is that the project as currently proposed would require the demolition of an historic building. The staff report for Wednesday’s hearing (PDF) explains:
The proposed Project would demolish the structure at 617-621 Harrison Street which is a contributor to the API. The City Standard Condition of Approval requires that the Project applicant make a good faith effort to relocate the building to an acceptable site. If relocated, the impacts to cultural resources would be less than significant.
If the building cannot be moved, the proposed mitigation measures require that the Project applicant hire a qualified consultant to prepare a deconstruction and salvage plan to identify interior and exterior elements that can be reused either on or off site with all deconstructed materials to be promptly recycled back into the construction market. In addition, the Project applicant shall make a monetary contribution to the City for a Historic Interpretive and Program about the 7th Street/Harrison Square Residential District and a historic resource related program such as the Property Relocation Program or the Façade Improvement Fund. Even with these mitigation measures the Project will result in a significant and unavoidable impact if the building is demolished.
Frankly, that seems like a lot to ask in exchange for a building with a C rating, but I’m sure several of the preservations among my readers would disagree and will be happy to lecture us about the importance of APIs. The City’s Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board certainly did, and have noted a number of areas where they believe the Draft EIR is insufficient (PDF).