Town Square

Design Review Board approves plans for Danville Hotel property

Original post made on Aug 1, 2013

The Design Review Board met on Thursday at Town Hall to discuss a proposed [Web Link project] to replace the deteriorating Danville Hotel property with a retail, business and living space. The plans were approved with many minor changes, said board member Robert Combs.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 3:36 PM


Posted by Rick Sanderson
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2013 at 8:54 am

Any of the city council or friends getting priority on those 16 residential units? Hmmm?

Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2013 at 9:15 am

"Castle Companies' first plans in the early 2000s called for a three-story structure with residential condos, commercial offices, retail stores and an underground parking garage."

I was for that original idea! Too many people have a bug up their rear about "three stories". If done right, it should be allowed. Even Mt Diablo rises in stages. Downtown should develop upward.

I have GREATLY LIKED Castle Companies residential designs in the past, so I'm very interested to see what they come up with.

However, I'm already 95% sure that I WON'T like what will be designed here.
I doubt there will be ENOUGH PARKING for all uses (and I suspect the parking will be crowded (scratches) and uncovered).
I doubt I'll like one-story designs.
I doubt there will be exterior living via overlooking decking patios.
I doubt there will be enough sound-proofing, light, and ventilation.
I doubt there will be enough architectural sizzle and high-end appeal.
But I'll still look to see what they design. Surprise me, Castle!

Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:58 am

Where is the PARKING?!!!!!

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:58 am

Tom, if you click on the schematic at the upper left of the story you'll see a drawing that shows that there are about 25 spaces of interior parking - presumably for the residential units in the project. As for the retail and restaurant, the Danville Hotel is directly across the street from the Railroad Ave. parking lot, which the city developed and maintains specifically to allow redevelopment of downtown without a bunch of little parking lots on each parcel. Downtown developers have paid fees for the construction and maintenance of the city's parking lots over the years for the right to rely on them for their parking demands. There are four downtown lots maintained for those purposes - Railroad, Clock Tower, Village Theater and Front Street. Of course, that process was conceived and developed over the course of years, so no one seems to remember why or how that money was raised to build out those lots...

Rick: Do you think you're witty? Astute? Savvy? Or just a grown up version of that pesty kid who doesn't know the difference between being clever and just being an annoying little brat?

Posted by Danville mom
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I walked by the building a few evenings ago,
What a blight on the town it is.
PLEASE someone do something about that eyesore
It's embarrassing in its current condition.

Posted by Jane
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I'd love to live downtown. Sorry they won't have the underground parking, though, even for the residents. I like Castle Co., too; I hope they make this look more like Danville & not like a modern Walnut Creek project (just looking at the photos); we're not Walnut Creek. Whoever allowed the design for The Vine must have forgotten their glasses at that review meeting; it doesn't fit in. Castle Co, can you please put a "Danville" spin on this project's looks, so it fits with those commercial 'homes' around it on Hartz? Branagh did a great job on restoring the old home across from Faz. Just sayin'

Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

Yes, there are parking lots in Danville, but I don't know if you park in them? They are often full especially on weekends and especially the one behind the Clock Tower. Once you have townhouses and retail in the new Danville Hotel project there will not be enough parking for the townhouse residents and the shoppers too. Developers do not want to add sufficient parking because it doesn't generate revenue for them. They are allowed the minimum by city planners because the cities want the property taxes and don't really care about parking issues. Most projects with residential and retail below are huge failures and it will only be a matter of time before Danville and the brainiacs that run it realize it. Check out the project in Walnut Creek near the BART station - after 3 years there is only one retail tenant-Starbucks and not one other tenant.

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

"Most projects with residential and retail below are huge failures" - I'm not sure where you got this idea. While mixed use is new to the 'burbs, it's common in cities, historically proven and is hugely successful in most applications. Waterford Plaza in Dublin is a nearby suburban example that appears to be thriving. While it may not "work" for the prototypical family with 2 kids and a dog, for young singles and couples, or retired folks, the idea of being able to walk out your door, down some stairs, and into Peets or AAA or Safeway or a dentists office a couple of minutes later can be attractive.

Not everyone wants the same thing. Providing amenities for the outliers (like 20-somethings and 70-somethings in Danville) isn't a bad thing.

And, one more time: the schematic shows internal covered parking, presumably for the townhouses. As for the retail: the city added another municipal parking lot just a few years ago - on Front street - specifically to allow more intense development of downtown, and the funding for that lot comes from fees paid by developers who pay into that instead of building on-sire parking. (Downtown developers have a choice: pay into the municipal lot fund or build out their own. Nobody rides for free.)

You don't have to be a "braniac" to understand this stuff, but it helps to be minimally informed and to remember things that happened in the recent past. There's a reason those parking lots were bought and paved by the city.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2013 at 10:46 am

I have a bug up my "arse", FanDanville, for a very simple reason. And that is because a three story structure has absolutely no business looming above & literally overshadowing a historical building like the Danville Hotel. Nothing taller than the hotel belongs there. Period. Rumor is the three story plans have been abandoned, but this is not the same as "killed off". Time will tell.

What are some of the ugliest buildings in westside Danville? Forgetting the low slung and aging stuccos on the west side of Hartz near the high school, there are two I would specifically nominate: The bank building at the corner of Diablo and Rose, and the office building behind Country Waffles. And guess what? Both are three stories. No consideration to blending in to Danville's motif, just pay off some council members and planners and you're off & running. Style be damned. We are probably fortunate we don't have a Walmart instead of the library.

@DanvilleMom: There is a simple reason the old site appears to be a blight in your eyes, and that's because it was DELIBERATELY allowed to deteriorate. Exactly what would happen to any building complex built with cheap materials and left neglected. How do we know the same won't happen with the new project? Personally, no matter how ugly you may thing the haunted castle looks, I still prefer it to several of the recent architectural nightmares that have been erected since we moved to Danville.

There are already a ton of ugly, out of place two story buildings that face Railroad & border the two parking lots. The hideous block shaped wart on the northeast corner of Prospect & Railroad (behind the original A-frame house) is just the latest example.

Huh? posts pro-development messages on these boards every single time, without fail, that the topic of out-of-place residential projects comes up. A paranoid person might think he either a) works for a developer, b) is a developer himself or an associated contractor, or c) works for the city of Danville. Of course, I am sure if we ask him that we will discover he is actually a retired astronaut.

Posted by Jane
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I thought I read somewhere that the existing height limit in downtown Danville will actually accommodate a three-story structure? I think that when people think of "three-story," they do think of the bank, etc., as examples of bad planning. However, three stories does not have to be that tall & could fit in. I heartily agree with Derek in one respect - NO MORE box structures like the new one on Railroad, behind the restored house, or the Vine. Is it just me, or does anyone else think ugly boxes don't fit it? Why do we even have a Design Review Board if this is the type of structure that results???

Posted by mimi
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:54 am

Derek has it right!!! Thank you, Derek, for saying it like it is. Why does Danville need "development" anyway? So developers can make money? It is fine the way it is. Everyone likes the small town feel. Building another box will only make Danville look cheap!!!

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

Sorry, Derek: (d) none of the above. I'm not even "pro-development." What I am is "reality-biased." That is, I prefer to see discussion of topics revolve around assumptions that are based in real world facts. For example, on the recent posts: the 3 story bank building was not approved by the city, it was approved by the County before Danville incorporated, and in fact was a significant impetus for the incorporation vote. "No three story buildings" has been Danville's unofficial slogan ever since, for better or worse. That's what made a proposal for a three story building (gasp!) news in the first place.

Those are facts. Understanding facts, instead of just spewing bile, is my preferred means of commenting on public issues. As to the Danville Hotel plan, I haven't reviewed it (and probably won't) and I don't really have an opinion on it - that would require more facts that I don't have right now. I just looked at the schematic which shows parking spaces that many of the vehement voices on this site seem to be unable to discern, and am capable of remembering the Council vote that was taken a few years back to buy the property where the Front Street lot is now located and why it was being done and how it was being paid for.

Pesky ***facts***, which the posters most prone to sneers and accusations appear to believe are optional.

Posted by Architectural historian
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2013 at 10:39 am

The "Design Review Board" apparently has no design standards. These ugly boxes have nothing in common architecturally with the 19th century historic buildings in Danville. Isn't 19th century style the "design" they should be asking for? The Board does nothing more than rubber stamp whatever the developer wants, and that means the cheapest thing, which is what the new Hotel area buildings are: stucco boxes.

Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2013 at 11:16 am

For clarification purposes, when I said above that I preferred not to have "uncovered" parking, what I really meant was "unenclosed" parking.
I guess that these internal parking spots will be covered by the 2nd floor above them? But I was trying to say that I like the concept of a garage where cars/etc are locked up privately from others. And I doubt that private garage enclosures are going to be a part of this type project.
It's good to at least have some cover from the elements and some security protection. Wonder if they'll have electric gate and barred openings or just wide open parking area?

Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

As to the prohibition against 3-story buildings, I understand the history and the past reasons and sentiments.
Some of the "reasons" against 3-story buildings are that:
if they are built close to the street, then they create dark, shadowed. long, narrow streets (like downtown New York). And that creates an atmosphere that is far different than a homey, small, Western country-town feeling that is more like what Danville was and wants to continue to be. But it all depends on how the building is designed.
Another reason formerly offered was that people wanted to retain their view of Mt. Diablo.

As for myself, I'm not so absolute and narrow that I can't see how some designs of 3-stories could actually be acceptable (not so greatly offend the reasons against having 3-stories) to many. I especially like the idea of having the 3rd story be set back from the edge of the 2nd story. This makes the 3rd story almost invisible from many locations and certainly from the street level. Additionally, this would allow "roof" space around the exterior of the 3rd story, which could be used for outdoor living via decking/patio areas and, perhaps, landscaping. Imagine a restaurant with outdoor seating up there. Or imagine a residential unit with a patio garden.

Generally I'm more inclined to be wary of a 3-story design (not counting underground parking), but I'm open to considering it (unlike the adamant, blanket prohibition against it).

Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on Aug 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

We shall see what happens once the project is built out and the townhouses are occupied. Unfortunately, it will only be then that the residents will know whether it was a success or a failure. Right now we are all playing a guessing game as to what will be. Oh, by the way, the economy will also have quite a bit to do with it. What if the economy stalls again or worse, goes into a downturn? It is very possible.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

No Huh, what you are is indifferent to the opinions of the majority of Danville's residents. I'm fine with facts. Like the fact that four of the last five commercial construction projects in downtown are unimaginative "block" structures that should never have been permitted. Like the fact that the un-trustworthiness of our five town council members has been demonstrated clearly time and again.
Even the revamped vet hall/senior center is wildly out of place on the north side that faces Prospect. That it is an attractive facade otherwise does not change the fact it doesn't blend in. A lot of us still miss the redwood trees. The only project that has been attractive out of the last five built is the mixed-facade structure across from Father Natures.
You see Huh?, despite your protests that we should wait "for the facts to evolve", the facts are already upon us. This is why it's hard for me to believe - paranoid or not - that you are not involved with some aspect of commercial development. You simply jump on these boards at every single opportunity to call people unreasonable, to accuse them of being racists, or to assert that everyone who doesn't want hillsides covered with trophy houses must be a right wing loony tune.
You're in your own little world Huh?, and nobody wants to be there with you.

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Aug 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Derek, you appear to be a guy who has difficulty distinguishing between his opinion and "facts." You do or don't like some property owner's remodeling or construction, and consider your opinion to constitute "fact." I may or may not agree with you as to any particular building, but that would still just be opinions, not "facts."

Many people on these boards are reasonable. But a few aren't. It's my opinion that people who are ignorant of the history behind things that they are talking about (like you) and who rant and rave at anyone who disagrees with them don't add much to the discussion. A comment like: "just pay off some council members and planners and you're off & running" demonstrates gross ignorance and a juvenile attitude.

But hey - that's just my opinion. If you're upset that I called out the posters in another thread for posting glaringly offensive racist rants - well, that's your opinion.