HOUSING MASSING ISSUES

 

Construction and Parking Costs: All options include construction of portions above 50 feet, which will involve more expensive steel and/or concrete construction.  Option 1 is the least costly since all of the family housing and portions of Sites B and C can be constructed in wood frame.  Each of the successive options involves increased costs, as more of the construction moves from wood-frame to steel and concrete.  Additional construction costs related to life safety are incurred in Options 4 and 5 for the portions of development that exceed 85 feet in height.  As the density increases beyond 300 units, there will also be increased costs related to parking, which will be required to be constructed deeper into the ground. 

 

Financing of Affordable Housing: Increased construction costs may make affordable housing more difficult to finance.  

 

Building Articulation:  All of the options can be designed appropriately within this setting, given: the context of Ocean Avenue which exceeds 100 feet in width; the planned surrounding open spaces; and the adjacent RAND building which exceeds 80 feet in height relative to Ocean Avenue.  An 85-foot high building can be designed to be scaled and articulated to produce an attractive and high quality building complex.  From a compositional and massing standpoint, one tower on the southern portion of the property (Option 5) is preferable to two towers, as the northern tower (Option 4) would impose an inappropriately strong visual statement in relation to the City Hall and planned Civic Center open spaces.  

 

Shade and Shadowing: Option 4 with the 165-foot tower on Site B will result in shade and shadow impacts on Palisades Garden Walk and the Town Square.  Option 3 (85-foot high building on Site B) and Option 5 (85-foot high buildings on both Sites A and B) will also result in some shadowing within these open spaces.

 

On-Site Open Space: As the heights and densities increase, the podium courtyards and open spaces will become smaller and experience more shade and shadow making them less desirable for residents.  However, this will be somewhat mitigated by the significant amount of public open space proposed in the immediate vicinity of the housing.

 

Livability of Family Housing:  Conventional American wisdom based upon our experience with high density public housing suggests that livability will be reduced in Option 5 where elevators and corridors will be required to access family housing units above the third floor.  However, high quality materials and design treatments, a greater mix of unit types (e.g., family units on the lower floors, smaller units above), and management approaches that promote security and oversight may help mitigate these issues. 

 

High Density versus Low Density: In considering height and massing, it is important to emphasize that this is not just another housing project; there is a special challenge on this site to create a Civic Center with an appropriate civic stature and identity.  The land is a precious commodity within the community, and as such, higher density development that is sensitively designed, that is unique from more conventional development occurring elsewhere, and that is less consumptive of land, could be an appropriate response.