Planners OK development on A Street

The Planning Commission on Tuesday gave developers the green light to demolish an old, rundown house on A Street and build condos and offices in its place.

Ashland residents Louis Plummer and Sidney Brown plan to knock down the rental house they own at 426 A St. and build a 3,992-square-foot building.

The new two-story building will feature two condos on the top floor and 1,850 square feet of retail or office space on the bottom floor, according to plans submitted to the Planning Department.

The existing home, which was constructed in 1889, has fallen into disrepair and is not considered to be a contributing resource to the historic Railroad District, according to city documents.

The commission approved the project in a 7-1 vote. Commissioner Tom Dimitre voted against the development, due to concerns about parking and preserving the history of the building.

The developers hope to start deconstructing the house this fall, and plan to salvage all the materials they can from the existing structure, said Christopher Brown, the project designer. Construction on the new building is scheduled to start in the spring of 2010 and finish that fall, he said.

Three people who own property or live near the proposed development spoke out against it at the Planning Commission meeting, citing concerns similar to those Dimitre raised, according to Derek Severson, an associate planner for the city.

A man who owns property across the alleyway from the site said he supported the development, Severson said.

The commission followed planning officials' recommendations to impose certain requirements on the project. The developers must meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards and make sidewalk repairs in front of the property on A Street, the commission decided.

The development will feature many sustainable design aspects, including a "living roof" — a garden of succulents on the top of the building — Brown said.

Two cedar trees on the corner of the lot, at the intersection of A and Third streets, will be preserved, he said. A community plaza will be built underneath the trees using permeable paving, which allows water runoff to soak through the pavement, Brown said.

"Basically the whole crux of it is the preservation of the two trees on the corner," he said.

Commissioners also granted the developers a parking variance, allowing them to provide only five parking spaces, instead of eight, the number that would normally be required for a development the size of the one proposed. Four of the parking spaces will be located in the alleyway bordering the property and one will be on the street, Severson said.

Severson and other planning officials were pleased commissioners approved the project, he said.

"We think it will be a benefit to the area and it seems like a good design," he said. "It's a great redevelopment project, we think."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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