PRJ03-00454 - ZON03-00038. APPLICANT: FULLERTON MUSEUM CENTER; PROPERTY OWNER: CITY OF FULLERTON. Request to review an addition to the Museum of a 1,167 square foot storage room including two single occupancy restrooms that open to the Plaza located at 301 N. Pomona Avenue (northwest corner of Pomona Avenue and Wilshire Avenue). (Zoned Public Use) (Categorically exempt under Section 15301).
Associate Planner Eastman introduced the proposed project located at 310 N. Pomona Avenue, which is the northwest corner of Pomona and Wilshire Avenues. The request is to construct a 1,167 square foot addition to the Fullerton Museum to accommodate needed storage and restroom facilities. The project includes interior renovations, but the RDRC's purview is primarily related to the addition.
Planner Eastman described the site's zoning and identified the surrounding properties, including Plaza Park to the west. He pointed out that the restroom facilities were designed to serve Plaza Park, as they have no internal connection to the museum.
Planner Eastman clarified that the proposal is located in an existing courtyard, and includes the demolition of the courtyard wall and planter. The RDRC is to make a recommendation to the landmarks Commission regarding the project's design, particularly as it relates to the historic designation of the building. The project will also go before the Community Services Commission prior to review by the City Council. Eastman generally identified the project's historic characteristics and provided background of the building's history. He identified the property as Local Landmark No. 11, which subjects it to the City's Local Landmark Ordinance. The property is of "National Register" potential, but is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Planner Eastman identified the historic issues which the RDRC was to consider, including the historical context of the courtyard; the demolition of the courtyard's block wall; and the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, particularly standard no. 9 and 10. Mr. Eastman stated that Staff does not believe the courtyard is of significant historic value; nor are the walls of enough significance to require preservation. He briefly described the Secretary of Interior standards and addressed how the project relates to them. Eastman stated that the Planning Staff recommends that the RDRC recommend approval of the project subject to the seven conditions in the staff report.
Member Coffman inquired about a comment in the staff report pertaining to the retention of the courtyard wall's pilasters, which he did not see indicated on the plans. Staff Planner Eastman clarified that the existing pilasters and wall are not shown on the plans. He provided photographs and stated that the discussion in the staff report was provided as an alternative, should the RDRC determine that the wall was of historic importance. Eastman clarified that keeping the pilasters would likely require the redesign of the addition's doors so that they are aligned with the pilasters. Cultural Services Manager Felz stated the pilasters were added when Plaza Park was constructed, and are a copy of the pilasters farther down the wall. Associate Planner Eastman stated that due to the location and the construction date of the pilasters, Staff is not recommending the preservation of the pilasters unless the RDRC determines that the wall is of significance and that some feature must be maintained to preserve the historic context.
Chairman Johnson inquired into the use of the courtyard. Cultural Services Manager Felz thought it was an outside reading area for the original library use. He stated that the museum uses it for occasional outside storage. Planner Eastman clarified the City's past policy regarding additions to historic properties has been to support additions as a way of encouraging the continued use, functionality, and maintenance of old buildings, provided the addition does not impact the properties defining historic features.
Member Coffman stated that he was pleased to see the addition of the restroom facility. The project architect, Rick Crane, discussed the project design, identified areas of work and the out the massing and height association to the existing building. He stated that poured-in-place concrete walls are too cost prohibitive; so the addition will be constructed of concrete block with and treated with a boards pressed plaster to give it the "board formed" concrete finish of the existing building. Alcoves were added at the doorways to create relief, and features will match the existing building, such as the copper downspouts. Some landscaping will be removed to accommodate walkways, but there will be some enhancement of the existing landscaping too. Mr. Crane stated that he read the RDRC staff report and agrees to the recommended conditions of approval.
Member Silber asked what established the height of the building, and asked Mr. Crane to elaborate on the screening and location of HVAC equipment. Mr. Crane stated that the parapet line matches the existing structure, and the roof line would be approximately 2 1/2 feet below the top of the parapet. The intent is to place the AC unit as far back as possible (Mr. Crane indicated to an area over the eastern doors of the proposed storage addition). Member Silber asked if the unit would be hidden in a "well". Mr. Crane stated that a well isn't needed. He said he could do a sight line study, but the odds of seeing the unit are slim.
Member Silber identified a wall which currently returns from the west property line to the museum. Silber exhibited a picture showing that the wall would abut the proposed addition, and asked if the wall could be saved. Mr. Crane stated that it could be saved. Member Silber asked if the sill of the existing window will be saved. Mr. Crane said the sill would be saved.
Silber asked if the 3 inch gap between the new and old structures would read as a "reveal" from the west elevation. Mr. Crane stated that the vertical joint would read as a reveal from the side. Associate Planner Eastman clarified that the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation underscore the need to identify were a new addition starts and where the historic building ends, so that the addition does not appear as part of the original construction. Mr. Crane stated that was the intent. Member Silber stated that he things the reveal is a good thing.
Mr. Crane stated that he believes the other two Secretary of Interior Standards identified in the staff report are being met. He said that perhaps the only question is the modification of the window to a door. Member Silber asked what will happen with the window. Cultural Services Manager Felz stated that the window will be salvaged, and it is his intent to use it as part of an exhibit in the Museum.
Member Silber asked if Mr. Crane thinks the plaster can successfully replicate the Museum's "board formed" concrete finish. Mr. Crane said that they could. Member Coffman is concerned that it will be difficult to make the plaster look like the historic concrete walls, and feels that if it were just a little off, it could read as a "cheap imitation" of the museum. He thinks a smooth plaster finish may be better, which would be a subtly distinguish the addition from the original. Member Coffman asked if the museum building has tapered concrete around the doors. It was identified that some of the doors and windows are tapered, but generally the frames have a variety of treatments. Associate Planer Eastman stated that the general rule for designing an addition to an historic building is not to replicate the existing details, but to create details on the addition which are compatible or complimentary. Mr. Crane stated that they did not intend to make the doors too monumental because they are not public entrances to the museum. Staff stated that the molding and door treatments are subtle touches to compliment the existing museum.
Member Coffman stated, in regard to Member Silber's comments about saving the return wall, that he things it may create a difficult condition to have a three inch gap between the wall and the new building. There was discussion about protecting the gap from the elements and preventing the accumulation of trash. Options were discussed. Parks Project Manager McDaniel stated that the intent will be to save the wall, and that every option will be explored to accommodate the preservation.
The RDRC had no more questions for the applicant. Chairman Johnson opened the meeting for public comment. Associate Planner Eastman stated that representatives from Fullerton Heritage have expressed interest in the project, but are unable to attend due to conflicts. Eastman stated that he did not think that Fullerton Heritage had seen the revised plans, and did not know if they were in support or opposition.
No one was present from the public to comment on the item, so Chairman Johnson brought the project back to the RDRC for discussion.
Member Silber agreed with Member Coffman's comment regarding the plaster. He thinks that if may be difficult to create a "board formed" concrete finish with plaster, and he would be comfortable with a smooth finish instead. He felt that if the board formed approach is to be done, it is imperative that it be very similar to the existing building. Associate Planner Eastman recommended a condition requiring a test board to determine if the desired results could be accomplished. Member Silber was comfortable with such a condition; and Mr. Crane stated that the applicant was also in agreement. Member Silber would also like to see that every attempt be made to preserve the return wall as discussed.
Motioned by Silber, seconded by Coffman, to recommend approval of the project subject to the conditions in the Staff report and the conditions that 1) the existing return wall be preserved; and 2) smooth plaster may be used only after test panels are made of both surfaces (e.g., smooth plaster and board-formed plaster). The motion passed with a vote of 3 to 0.