Wired Magazine founder Louis Rossetto got his wish Thursday when Zoning Adjustments Board members gave him final approval for an addition to his mother’s recently landmarked cottage.
The board also approved a University Avenue project by developer John Gordon that would allow him to demolish and replace one dwelling and convert seven other units into offices as part of a complex that will include two restaurants.
Rossetto’s building, a redwood-sided cottage at 1650 La Vereda Trail designed by noted architect William Wurster, was the subject of a lengthy battle that began when neighbors filed a landmarking application after ZAB had already voted its approval of Rossetto’s initial expansion plans.
The City Council upheld the appeal and sent the proposal to the Landmarks Preservation Commission where often-heated testimony was followed by adoption of landmark status for the structure. Rossetto then submitted a new plan which left the original structure intact and added two new bedrooms in a separate, nearly mirror-image clone separated from the original by a breezeway.
Landmarks commissioners approved the design in December, and Rossetto and his attorney, Rena Rickles, brought the new plans to ZAB Thursday night.
“This application has been scrutinized, micromanaged and looked at from all ends,” Rickles said. “I ask you to approve it exactly as designed because any change would send it back to the landmarks commission.”
“Please let a frail 87-year-old woman have a bedroom so she can be near her grandchildren,” urged Rossetto, who had said the renovations were needed so that his mother wouldn’t have to climb stairs to the bedroom and would have an extra bedroom for a caretaker.
Only one voice was raised in opposition. Joan Seear of the Daley’s Scenic Park Neighborhood Group said the approval process “was flawed, with so much chagrin and frustration felt by everyone.”
Seear urged that city permits “should be flagged for all potential resources,” a move now being considered by the Planning Commission.
When it came time for a vote, only ZAB member Carrie Sprague voted to oppose the project.
University Avenue complex
Board members unanimously approved Gordon’s plans to transform his property at 1952-60 University Ave. into an office and retail complex with two new restaurants with indoor seating and a common outdoor dining area at the site of the complex’s current parking area.
Gordon bought the property in 2003, the same year the two buildings at the front of the property were declared Structures of Merit by the LPC.
The site originally housed a nursery, but later owners brought in a collection of seven cottages built between 1880 and 1920, adding storefronts to the two buildings fronting University.
Gordon’s plan’s call for demolishing one cottage—a dilapidated cottage at the southwest corner of the project—and raising the upper stories of three others atop new commercial structures,
Another new single-story structure at the southeast corner of the site would house the complex’s only residence, for a caretaker/gardener. An existing rose garden along the northeast interior fence would be enlarged.
The project won’t replace the seven parking spaces that will be lost or the seven dwelling units, which will be transformed into office spaces. Several ZAB members lamented that they couldn’t asses the project for a long-proposed but never-enacted parking trust fund, but nonetheless cast their votes for Gordon’s project.
ZAB also gave the first of three approvals needed before the landmarked Howard Automobile building at 2140 Durant Ave. is converted into a Buddhist seminary, institute and book store.
After the mitigated negative declaration issued Thursday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) must approve plans for a two-story addition at the rear of the building and ZAB then must issue a use permit to allow construction.B