Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
What was once Fernandina Lumber is today a razed lot. But work may begin as early as next month on a development of 22 townhouses, complete with their own garages. The project is being developed by Artisan Homes on 1.48 acres zoned Mixed Use (MU-1). Plans have been underway for several months. Occupying most of the block lying between 2nd and 3rd Streets and bounded on the south by Beech Street, the development area is not part of the Central Business District and was unaffected by the recent density increase.
At their April 20, 2017 Monthly Meeting, the Historic District Council (HDC) of the city of Fernandina Beach gave a unanimous thumbs up to the development with some conditions:
- Fencing be made of wood (not vinyl)
- Shutters be made of composite or wood (not vinyl)
- Windows be simulated divided lite (SDL)
- Hardiplank be smooth finish
- Entry way handrails be metal
- 3rd Street façade of building #14 (corner of 3rd and Beech Streets) be softened to look less stark in contrast to the front facades of other units.
In presenting his staff report, city Preservation Planner Sal Cumella noted how the developer had addressed staff and HDC concerns raised at the conceptual approval stage of the project (see http://fernandinaobserver.com/2017/01/23/changes-in-store-for-former-lumberyard-property-on-s-3rd-street/) :
- The buildings have been offset slightly to avoid a monolithic appearance.
- Design details that mimic those on other buildings in the Historic District have been added to help soften lines and differentiate the units.
- Different types of brick will be used from unit to unit.
- HVAC units have been placed on roofs and are not visible from the street.
- Garages are one story with no apartment above.
As part of his analysis, Cumella noted that the proposed buildings are 29 feet in height, although the maximum allowed in this zoning district is 35 feet. The proposed development is also under the maximum allowed for impervious area. While the developer is only required to provide 12,802 square feet of landscaped area, plans call for 21,021 square feet. Rooftops will be flat and allow for roof terraces.
Eleven units that face 2nd and 3rd Streets have separate garages. Units on Beech Street incorporate garages in the primary structure. The same holds true for the 2 most northern units on 3rd and the most northern unit on 2nd Street. Access to the garages will be from an alley that will be entered from S. 3rd Street.
Morgan Brown of Artisan Homes and project agent Asa Gillette responded to HDC questions about various aspects of the project. They agreed to the conditions set forth by the HDC and agreed to do additional work on shutters and side façade softening for unit 14, the building which faces Beech Street but presents a long side along 3rd Street, where front facades from many units face.
There were no comments from the audience.
According to information provided by Brown and Gillette after the meeting, they hope to begin construction next month. With HDC approval they must now complete review by the city’s Technical Review Committee and obtain permits. At this time, they estimate that the cost per unit will be in the $400-thousand range.