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Ericksen project draws little flak

An image of proposed new townhomes on Ericksen. - Courtesy of Dick Allen
An image of proposed new townhomes on Ericksen.
— image credit: Courtesy of Dick Allen

Design reviewers OK a mixed-use plan, even as the proposal next door is stalled.

A 1940s-era home on Ericksen Avenue will likely make way for a new mixed-use development later this year.

In the early design phase, the project includes knocking down a small, 60-year-old home and garage at 310 Ericksen Avenue.

In its place, owner Dick Allen of Bainbridge Island plans to build four townhomes totaling almost 7,000 square feet, two office buildings totaling over 1,000 square feet and about a dozen parking spaces. Buildings and pavement will cover about 70 percent of the 12,000 square foot parcel.

“This will be the finest new construction that has been done on Ericksen,” said Allen, who also built the Hillendale development off Weaver Road north of Wyatt Way.

Allen plans to begin construction in early August, with estimated completion in the summer of 2008. The project’s plans include the removal of at least four trees with diameters of over 10 inches that are specified as “significant” by the city.

The property, just west of the Winslow ravine, neighbors a parcel to the south undergoing similar redevelopment.

That property’s plans, under the working name “Peach Place,” include the tear-down of a 100-year-old house and construction of single-family residences and commercial space. The proposal recently drew fire from historic preservationists and residents fearing that the development would not fit the area’s surrounding character.

The project at 310 Ericksen, however, has elicited no outcry. Members of the city’s Historic Preservation Committee did not express concerns about the project when asked about it last week.

The city’s Design Review Board OK’d the project May 21 after working with Allen to slightly alter the project’s initial plans.

The board, which reviews all commercial and multi-unit residential developments, urged Allen to add a front porch facing the street, widen the front yard to about 15 feet and increase street-side setbacks to allow for a possible future sidewalk.

Allen agreed to the changes, eliciting praise from at least one board member.

“It will probably be the nicest development on the street,” wrote DRB member John Green, in a memo to the board on May 15, adding that the project “demonstrates a clear understanding of the codes, regulations and guidelines.”

Although he made the suggested changes, Allen feels the board is out of step with modern design standards and with the neighborhood’s changing character.

The board, he said, uses “faulty theory that doesn’t follow contemporary guidance from contemporary planning.”

The sidewalk setback, he added, runs counter to earlier city directives that discourage sidewalks on Ericksen’s east side.

“About 70 percent of (Ericksen) is already developed” using “inconsistent” design guidelines, including a variety of setback requirements at nearby developments, he said.

Despite his misgivings about the board and city guidelines, Allen predicted his development will receive the public’s endorsement.

The project, he wrote in his application to the city, will feature a “lovely design embraced by all who look.”

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