File #: 2014-597   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Historical Advisory Board
On agenda: 6/5/2014
Title: Public Hearing to Consider a Request for a Certificate of Approval at 1501 Buena Vista Avenue - PLN14-0059 - The applicant is requesting a Certificate of Approval to restore and modify the Del Monte Warehouse Historic Monument.
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Revised Project Plans, 2. Exhibit 2-A - Memorandum by VerPlank Historic Preservation Consultants, 3. Exhibit 2-B - Memorandum by VerPlank Historic Preservation Consultants, 4. Exhibit 3 - Draft Resolution
Public Hearing to Consider a Request for a Certificate of Approval at 1501 Buena Vista Avenue - PLN14-0059 - The applicant is requesting a Certificate of Approval to restore and modify the Del Monte Warehouse Historic Monument.
DATE:                  June 5, 2014
FROM:      Andrew Thomas
APPLICATION:       Public Hearing to Consider a Request for a Certificate of Approval at 1501 Buena Vista Avenue - PLN14-0059 - The applicant is requesting a Certificate of Approval to restore and modify the Del Monte Warehouse Historic Monument.
ZONING DISTRICT:      M-X, Mixed Use, Planned Development District
GENERAL PLAN:      Mixed Use
The proposed project involves structural alterations, including a roof-top addition, to a designated City Monument to support adaptive reuse of the 1927 warehouse for residential mixed use.  The proposed modifications would allow the building to be adaptively reused for approximately 309 housing units and between 9,000 and 20,000 square feet of waterfront retail space. The proposed project is described and illustrated in more detail in Exhibit 1.
The Historical Advisory Board (HAB) held its initial review of the proposal on March 6, 2013, at which time the project was introduced to the Board.  On April 3, 2013, the HAB held a second public workshop to review the project and staff's proposed findings that the modifications to the building are consistent with the Secretary of Interior Standards.
At the HAB's request, the applicant also organized an on-site meeting to give the Board and the public an opportunity to review the inside of the Del Monte Building on April 23, 2013.   In addition, the Planning Board held two meetings to review and discuss the project on March 10, 2014, and April 28, 2014.
Based upon the public comments on the proposal received in March, April, and May, the applicant has made some revisions to the proposal, which are depicted in Exhibit 1 and described below.
Pursuant to Alameda Municipal Code Section 13-21 Preservation of Historical and Cultural Resources, any proposed alteration to a designated City Monument requires review and approval of a Certificate of Approval by the HAB at a noticed public meeting. To approve a Certificate of Approval, the HAB must find that the proposed alterations are consistent with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.  
Based upon a review of the proposed plans (Exhibit 1) and a review of an independent third party analysis by Christopher VerPlanck of VerPlanck Historic Preservation Consultants (Exhibit 2), staff believes that the proposed project complies with all ten Secretary of Interior Standards. Evidence to support each finding is provided below.
At the HAB meeting on April 3, 2014, the HAB members asked questions and made a number of suggestions. The major issues and questions raised by the Historical Advisory Board were the following:
Can the applicant provide story poles to indicate the height of the addition?  
Response: Yes. The applicant is erecting story poles, which will be visible at least a week before the June 5th Historical Advisory Board meeting.  
Are there examples of other projects with roof additions similar to this one that have been found to be consistent with the Secretary of Interior Standards by the U.S. Department of the Interior?  
Response: Yes.  See Exhibit 2 for more details.
Would the roof addition benefit from more a more subdued, deeper color scheme?
Response: Preservation brief 14 states "…a modern addition should be readily distinguishable from the older work; however, the new work should be harmonious with the old in scale, proportion, materials, and color. Such additions should be as inconspicuous as possible from the public view".  The design team has reviewed several color schemes for the addition and has determined that the revised proposed colors (a light blue and dark blue) are most compatible with the base building for the following reason: The primary façade is a dark brown and has a strong cornice line with articulated pediments. From most viewpoints the addition is only minimally visible above this cornice line and contrasting (lighter) colors allow the cornice line to read uninterrupted. Deeper colors similar to the primary façade when applied to the addition result in muddying this strong cornice line. It is the design team's opinion that the contrasting color creates a more harmonious relationship between the addition and the base façade and that a similar color would make the addition more conspicuous and less distinguishable.
The proposed material for the façade parallel to Buena Vista and Clement is a resin panel rain screen system in a light blue color. The module of this skin is 18" to create a fine grained appearance that references the texture and scale of corrugated metal. The fenestration is to be a deep set nail fin aluminum window system to create a deep shadow line that references the industrial sash windows in the base façade. The proportion of the windows has been changed to respond to the finer grain of the industrial sash windows however, proportions that would mimic the industrial sash windows exactly have been avoided. The massing of the addition has been changed to incorporate shifting planes that resemble stacked shipping containers. The facades perpendicular to this plane and at the rear of the courtyards is portland cement plaster in a dark blue color.
Color elevations of the addition, side elevations and interior court have been provided. Please reference sheets A-3.04 and A-3.05. The design team will provide color swatches as part of the materials board. A color and materials board will be provided for public review at the HAB meeting.  
The applicant should consider substituting corrugated metal for the glass canopy.
Response: The design team agrees.  The plans no longer show corrugated glass from the canopies and propose a combination of solid corrugated metal and perforated corrugated metal, as can be seen on sheets A-3.06 and A-3.07.  The design team believes that metal canopies are consistent with the original metal canopies and will avoid some of the maintenance issues with glass canopies raised by the public.
It would be helpful to provide a detail of window openings and note if they are recessed from the brick façade.
Response: The window openings in the existing brick façade will be set back approximately 8" from the outside face of wall. Proposed window materials are either painted steel or aluminum in a color to match the industrial sash windows above. Window details for the existing brick facades and the roof addition are shown in Exhibit 1.
It would be beneficial to retain the existing variegated glass above the public entries.
Response: The design team agrees and has incorporated the variegated glass into the design.
Findings for Approval
With the changes described above, and illustrated in Exhibit 1, and the evaluation provided by VerPlank Historic Preservation Consultants (Exhibit 2), staff is recommending that the HAB make the following findings in support of the Certificate of Approval:
1.      A property will be used as it was historically or be given a new use that requires minimal change to its distinctive materials, features, spaces, and spatial relationships.  The conversion from industrial to residential use would not significantly change the distinctive materials and features of the brick warehouse building. A conversion to residential use is not inherently harmful to industrial buildings. Industrial buildings are adaptable structures often characterized by incremental alterations to accommodate evolving industrial technology or new uses. Many brick industrial buildings in the Bay Area have historic additions made of corrugated steel or other lightweight materials because brick is a comparatively expensive and permanent building material. There are many local examples of brick industrial buildings that have been successfully converted to residential and/or commercial use, particularly in Richmond, Oakland, and in San Francisco's South End, Potrero Hill, and the Mission District neighborhoods. Many have either one or two-story additions that are sometimes visible from public property rights-of-way.
2.      The historic character of a property will be retained and preserved.  The removal of distinctive materials or alteration of features, spaces, and spatial relationships that characterize a property will be avoided. The proposed project preserves the original architectural features of the building that make it historically significant because the brick exterior walls and a majority of the structure will be renovated and preserved in a manner that is compatible with the original design. The proposed project would make a limited number of changes to the brick exterior of the Del Monte Warehouse, including replacing non-historic metal doors with storefronts and glazing systems and creating 50 new openings for the residential and commercial units. New steel and wood railings would be added to the loading docks to create private patios along the north and south façades. Otherwise, the exterior of the building would be retained and preserved to maintain its historic industrial character. The modifications to the first floor level, including the creation of new window and storefront openings, as well as the wood and metal railings on the loading docks, are relatively small-scale and easily reversible changes that would not disrupt the historic industrial character of the building.
The only character-defining features that would be impacted by the project include approximately 43 percent of the interior framing and less than 15 percent of the exterior brick work. Very little of the concrete loading docks would be removed.
3.      Each property will be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use.  Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or elements from other historic properties, will not be undertaken.  The project will utilize materials that are compatible and appropriate with the building's period of construction. The proposed project would not add any conjectural features or elements from other historical properties that would create a false sense of historical development.   
4.      Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved. No changes have occurred to the property over time that have acquired their own historic significance. None of the post-1927 alterations to the Del Monte Warehouse, including the metal overhead doors, the Storage and Labeling Shed, the solar collectors, or the low concrete wall south of the building, have acquired significance in their own right. Their removal would not impair the integrity or the significance of the property.
5.      Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved. The project will preserve all distinctive features and finishes of the original construction. The proposed project would retain and preserve the exterior brick walls of the historic Del Monte Warehouse. The interior brick fire walls that separate the four bays would also be retained and preserved. The project would retain and repair the existing steel industrial windows and most of the structural and roof framing in bays 1 and 4. Approximately 43 percent of the rest of the framing and roof structure, mostly concentrated in bays 2 and 3, would be removed to construct the addition. Though the removal of interior framing is not optimal from the perspective of the Rehabilitation Standards, it is necessary in order to make the project feasible and to complete the necessary seismic work. The removal of this fabric is in part mitigated by the retention and restoration of the majority of the brick exterior and because the affected areas of the internal framing are not visible from outside the building.
6.      Deteriorated historic features will be repaired rather than replaced.  Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature will match the old in design, color, texture, and, where possible, materials.  Replacement of missing features will be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence. New materials and windows will complement the appearance of the original building. The most important features of the building (the exterior brick walls) appear to be in good condition. Most of the timber framing in the interior appears to be in fair condition; there are, however, some sections that have been sandblasted and other sections requiring cleaning and seismic retrofitting, including a few columns that have twisted in place. The steel industrial windows on the exterior of the building, as well as the monitor roof, appear to require moderate-to-extensive repairs. The steel sashes themselves would be retained and repaired. Where the deterioration is too severe to be repaired, the steel sashes would be replaced using a metal counterpart that matches the original design, material, color, and molding profile. If any brickwork is damaged beyond repair, the replacement brick would match the original color and texture.
7.      Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used. No chemical treatments or other methods that can cause damage to historic materials will be used. The exterior of the Del Monte Warehouse would need to be cleaned as part of the proposed project. No overly harsh or abrasive methods, such as sandblasting, would be used because such treatments can damage the exterior glazing of the brick, causing the softer interior to crumble. Instead, the brick would be pressure-washed using the lowest effective water pressure. If detergents are needed to clean accumulated soot and biological growth, gentle cleaning products, such as trisodium phosphates (TSP), would be used. Graffiti would be removed using the gentlest effective means possible, such as walnut shell blasting. Peeling paint would be removed with hand sanding, chemical strippers, or heat guns.
8.      Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.  The presence of potential archaeological resources on the project site is unlikely. However, if archeological resources are discovered, standard mitigation measures typically required by the City of Alameda would assure compliance with Rehabilitation Standard 8.  
9.      New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property.  The new work shall be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment. The new work will not destroy significant historic fabric of the building, and new materials will be compatible with the original construction. Any deteriorated historic material will be repaired/restored to its original condition. The following four areas of guidance in regard to rooftop additions are taken from the Preservation Brief 14: "New Exterior Additions to Historic Buildings."
Setbacks: Preservation Brief 14 stipulates that vertical additions should be set back at least one structural bay from the exterior walls of a building. In the case of the proposed project, the addition would be set back 60' (approximately three bays) from the north and south façades and 250' (approximately 12.5 bays) from the east and west façades. The addition would occupy less than 33 percent of the overall floorplate.
Compatibility: Preservation Brief 14 requires that a vertical addition be distinguished from the historic building. The proposed modern addition would be differentiated from the original structure by a pair of symmetrical blocks punctuated by a repetitive grid of rectangular window openings - much like the historic warehouse. It would also have a flat roof with low parapets. The addition would be clad in contemporary materials, including metal and stucco in contrast to the brick exterior of the historic structure.
Massing: Preservation Brief 14 calls for a vertical addition to be simple and unobtrusive and smaller than the historic building. In addition to having a much smaller footprint than the historic building, the proposed addition is designed to look even smaller by being broken up into an alternating arrangement of projecting volumes and landscaped interior courtyards. By doing this, the addition recedes in areas, giving it the appearance of several smaller pavilions instead of a single large volume.
Height: Preservation Brief 14 says that a rooftop addition should not be more than one story in height. Though the addition rises only one story above the existing monitor roof, it rises approximately one-and-a-half stories above the remainder of the building. However, because the addition is set back 60 feet from the south and north façades and 250' from the east and west façades, it is minimally visible from most vantage points.
10.      New additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.  The proposed work would not impair the integrity of the historic property because none of the character-defining features of the resource will be significantly altered by the project. The addition and related new construction could be removed with some difficulty, including re-engineering portions of the historic building's structure that would bear on the new podium. If removed, the historic Del Monte Warehouse, including its two-story, gable-roofed massing, its brick exterior walls, and its ornamental detailing, would appear largely as it does today.  
The City prepared an Initial Study/Subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration for the reuse of the Del Monte building pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Initial Study/Subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration determined that the proposed project would result in new or substantially more severe significant impacts, new information, or changes in circumstances that were not identified for the Del Monte Site in the General Plan Amendment EIR approved February 4, 2014; however, those new impacts are reduced to less than significant levels with new or revised mitigations. A Historic Resources Evaluation determined that the proposal is consistent with the Secretary of Interior Standards and would not result in any significant impacts to historic or cultural resources. These findings have been incorporated into the Initial Study/Subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration.
This agenda item was advertised in the Alameda Journal on May 16, 2014.  Notices were also mailed to residents and property owners within 300 feet of the project location. Staff has received a number of calls and visits requesting an opportunity to review the proposal.
Staff recommends approval of the proposed Certificate of Approval with conditions set forth in the draft resolution.
Andrew Thomas,
City Planner
1.      Revised Project Plans prepared by BAR Architects dated June 5, 2014.
2.      Memorandums by VerPlank Historic Preservation Consultants (2)
3.      Draft Resolution of Approval.