Independant assessment of Metropolitan Market Place (new coop building)

Here is a nice piece from a credible local blog.

Here is how they rated the building:

Using the section headings in the guidelines as a rubric, below is the scorecard for the project and along with a rationale.  5 Stars would be for an excellent example where very little could be improved.  1 Star would be for a complete failure to achieve the goals outlined in the guidelines.

Permitted and Deleted Uses (5 Stars) Multi-family residential and a grocery store are both permitted uses.

Building Massing & Floor/Area Ratios (4 Stars) The building mass takes advantage of the prominent corner lot by addressing the street and coming all the way out to the lot line.  There is a four-story façade that fronts each street, which is the maximum amount allowed in the guidelines.

Public Right-of-Way “Complete Streets” (4 Stars) While not all of this is under the purview of the project designers and developer, they have demonstrated a strong grasp over the concept of “complete streets” and incorporated curb bump outs, angled parking, street trees, street furniture and pedestrian lighting.  Further improvements such as narrower sidewalks and larger boulevards, a mid-block connection across 1st Avenue SE and incorporation of more public art could enhance the project.

Parking (4 Stars) While difficult to accomplish with a car-intensive use like a grocery store, this project does a phenomenal job of creating safe and pedestrian-friendly access and doing as much as possible to reduce the supply of parking on site.  The total number of spots provided comes close to the amounts proposed in new parking reductions for the downtown district and access from the alley is a huge advantage.  There are more advanced methods of mitigating the impact of parking but this being a pioneering project, it is difficult to accomplish.  Also they did try to make the best of a bad situation by adding buffers, but the large surface parking lot does detract from the scale of the project.  In the future, as redevelopment continues, this parking may be incorporated into a structure.

Retaining Existing Contributing Buildings (not applicable) For this redevelopment, nothing is worth preserving.

Facades (4 Stars) A distinct feature of this design is the more contemporary use of materials and massing while constrained to a more traditional “village” feel (articulated base, large windows, distinct entrances, etc).  This will help as the district grows over time.  The project could break down the façade along 1st Avenue SE a little more as the long length of the building can feel dominant.  The 6th Street SE façade is a 5 Star example of façade design.

Alleys, Arcades, River Walks & Integrated Walkways (5 Stars) An exemplary approach to activating the “backside” of a building and using the alley to become activated space.

Curb Cuts (5 Stars) This project has only two curb cuts and one is existing—in fact it actually reduces the existing total by two which is good for everyone.

Visual Connections (5 Stars) Currently no skyways are planned and the building does not block the alley.

Building Signage (4 Stars) The corner entrance has integrated building signage and the 1st Avenue SE side has a vertical banner type sign.

Awnings (3 Stars) Even though there is only one tenant on the ground floor, there are small fabric awnings over the windows that help to bring down the mass to a pedestrian scale.

Service Entrances, Utility, Trash, Equipment Screening (5 Stars) No easy task when surrounding by pedestrians, but this project hides the utility and trash in the most remote corner away from the street and shields the ramp down to the underground parking from the café seating area.

Public Art (3 Stars) Although tough to determine from the rendering, it appears that there could be opportunities for public art, information kiosks, or commissioned works as part of the architecture.  There looks to be a small fountain near the entrance that could provide a spot for this type of installation.

Building Lighting (not applicable) There is not enough detail to determine if this achieves the recommendations.

An overall score of 4.25 Stars is a testament to how the project conforms to the guidelines and achieves many of the goals desired in our downtown.  We look forward to the new addition to our downtown and many more that follow in its footsteps.

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