By Karen Brainard
Renderings of the AMCAL affordable workforce housing project proposed for Robertson Street caught Ramona Design Review Board members a bit by surprise Aug. 29, and they tabled a site plan review vote until next month after offering architectural suggestions.
“I don’t look at that and think rural,” said Rob Lewallen, whose re-appointment to the board is pending approval by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Other board members said that when they saw photos of colorful farmhouse structures as architectural examples during a conceptual presentation March 28, they pictured apartment buildings that would resemble a village of houses rather than monolithic structures.
“I like the amenities proposed,” member Carol Close said, adding the buildings needed “just a little more pizzazz, more unique for this area.”
Tom Greer, an architect with Newman Garrison + Partners, described the building style of the 60-unit complex as
California farmhouse with ranch elements. Two-story structures would have a stucco exterior on the first floor and board and batten on the second floor, he said. Ground level garages would face the interior of the complex.
The goal, Greer said “is to make something that’s certainly not cookie cutter, much more homegrown, homogenous.”
When members pointed to the white and cream color scheme of the apartment buildings and suggested adding accent colors, Greer agreed they may have been too timid with the colors.
“I’d say 70 percent of what will get you there is color change,” said Lewallen.
The board was pleased with the development’s landscaping proposal that Landscape Architect Mark Schattinger described as California ranch. The complex will have a walking trail through the grounds, shade structures, community garden, clubhouse, pool and landscaping with a rustic feel, he said.
The development would be built on 4.2 acres of an eight-acre parcel on the north side of Robertson Street at Pala Street, behind Kmart. Target renters will be those who work full time and earn up to $48,000 per year for a family of four. The project received the Ramona Community Planning Group’s endorsement July 11 after members were assured there will be zero tolerance for crime.
AMCAL’s vice president of development, Mario Turner, thanked the design review board for its feedback and said he and the project representatives would be at the board’s Sept. 26 meeting. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. in Ramona Community Center, 434 Aqua Lane.