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Published February 26th, 2014
Mountain View Drive Project Building on Suggestions
By Cathy Tyson

Looking to get feedback from the Design Review Commission, local developer Lenox Homes, LLC heard constructive suggestions at the second study session for its proposed eight-unit multi-family in-fill project that would be located at 945 Mountain View Dr. directly behind Trader Joe's. Two levels of four units each would rest atop a slightly lowered parking area, 2 feet below grade.The roughly 0.3-acre site currently has a vintage bungalow style home with lots of asphalt. Bordered by the Trader Joe's loading dock on one side, an apartment complex to the east, and a driveway that serves the apartments directly to the south, it's a challenging site for the developer to balance an economically viable project while being sensitive to the neighborhood.
Dan Freeman, president of Lenox Homes, is looking forward to working locally after having focused on projects in Alamo, Danville and Walnut Creek. He calls the project unique, very pedestrian friendly and geared toward active move-down buyers. Research by the company indicated a growing market exists for current residents who don't want to leave Lafayette, but are seeking a one-level home that's convenient to shops and BART, but with less maintenance than what's required to take care of an aging single family home. "We're exploring concepts at this point and gathering input," said Freeman who plans to reach out to stakeholders again and consider the whole project in response to comments received from design review commissioners.
Suggestions from commissioners focused on the overall size of the project; vice chair Gordon Chong described it as "edge to edge on property line, with no breathing room." A common refrain suggested reducing the building footprint by adjusting the number of parking spaces and perhaps shrinking the overall number of units or the size of the generous two-bedroom plus den units from around 1,825 square feet to something smaller. The city parking requirement for an eight-unit building is 12 spaces, the current version of the project includes 19 parking spots.
Fellow commissioner Ken Hertel commented that the current design needs to be pared down and pushed further back on the site.
Neighbors chimed in about the overall mass of the building and shared their concern about lack of space for emergency vehicles or delivery trucks on the street. Also with an overall height of over 34 feet, just below a maximum height of 35 feet, the current version towers over neighbors directly south of the building - at a previous study session it had been described as an aircraft carrier.
"This is a journey," said Freeman, "an organic process." He explained that changes are part of the journey and the structure is still a work in progress at this point.

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