Commission OKs plans for art gallery building | February 20, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - February 20, 2009

Commission OKs plans for art gallery building

Property on Hartz to become mixed retail/residential

by Geoff Gillette

Plans that would allow for the creation of a mixed retail and residential building on Hartz Avenue have been given a green light by the Danville Planning Commission. The new development will replace the structure that currently houses the Pioneer Art Gallery.

At their Feb. 10 meeting, commission members were presented with the plan by BNB Ventures to demolish the existing structure at 522-544 Hartz Ave. and build a 14,000-plus square foot building. Plans call for the bottom half of the building to be used for a restaurant and retail, while the upper floors will be subdivided into six residential units. Cost of the project is estimated at around $8 million.

In order to move forward, BNB Ventures needed to have approval of its development plan, as well as a land use permit and a variance to allow a different floor area ratio for the structure.

In presenting the plan, designed by architects Craig and Grant, BNB Ventures spokesman Brad Blake told the commission, "Many of you participated in a joint study session on this." He then added, "It's evolved since then."

Commissioners had questions regarding the parking around the proposed structure and how overnight parking for the residents would be handled. Blake said at this time they are still working on how the parking would be accommodated, as well as how they will approach the provision of parking for the various retail entities that will use the lower space.

The building is the former home of the Valley Pioneer and the San Ramon Valley Times newspapers, and it is currently occupied by the Pioneer Art Gallery. Blake made the space available to the artists a year and a half ago while he waited for the right time to tear down the building for the new development. The Gallery closes March 14 to make room on the 2,000-square-foot ground floor for Rakestraw Books, which is moving from Iron Horse Plaza.

Blake was unable to comment on possible tenants for the new facility, or on how any changeover would be handled. He did say that the new building with its mix of retail and residential will be a good fit in the downtown and consistent with what he sees as the future of downtown Danville.

Planning Commission Chairman Bob Nichols said he was pleased with the evolution of the project. "This is so much better than what we saw before," he said.

Commissioner Bob Combs agreed. "I'm glad to see some residential in the downtown," he said.

Commissioners approved the development plan unanimously. Afterward, Commissioner Robert Storer congratulated Blake, saying, "This is the culmination of something excellent and I can't wait to see it built."


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