Modern Commercial Space
The mixed-use building enhances the walkable downtown urban environment, providing 12,000 square feet of new opportunities for commercial functions at the street level along Fort Thomas Avenue – with large storefront windows, accessible tenant spaces, and outdoor areas conducive to vibrant street life with options for shade and sun. A covered promenade along the storefronts leads to a large outdoor Plaza which will become the town center gathering place. Colorful flower planters frame the space and comfortable seating will create a wonderful setting on the corner to socialize.
A second commercial building is designed for a 4,300-square-foot, sit-down restaurant with office space on the second level.
New Housing Type
Residences attractive to empty nesters, seniors, and single professionals will be introduced to the community on levels two and three. Eighteen condominium “flats” will offer one level living with elevator access to a private parking garage with two assigned parking spaces for each resident.
The residents will enjoy open, spacious living/kitchen areas, covered outdoor balconies, and master suites with his and her walk-in closets, and large master baths. The sizable windows provide ample natural lighting, and the units have 10’ ceiling heights – with additional volume ceilings in the third-floor main living spaces.
The residences will range in size from 1,700 SF 2 Bedroom/2 Bath; 1,850 SF and 2,000 SF 2 Bedroom/2 Bath/Study and 2,550 SF 3 bedroom/2.5 Bath/Study. The interiors will feature high quality designer finishes.
Resident parking is located underneath the street level, with access to the garage off Woodland Place. The commercial parking is located in a rear yard. The public parking lot will have an estimated 40 spaces with a designated commercial delivery zone and residential drop off area. In addition, 16 street parking spaces will serve the commercial. The parking lot is well screened with evergreen plantings and a buffer yard between the lot and the homes on Woodland Place.
Parking for the sit-down restaurant will be provided in parking locations throughout the town center and a valet service.
Landscaped green areas are also planned between the parking lot and the storefronts at the rear entries to the commercial spaces. The back of the building also includes numerous trees planted throughout the parking lot being considerate to the views from the residential units above. An interior galleria connects the parking lot to the front of the building and provides access to the main residential lobby. A 30-foot wide garden between the buildings also provide a nice amenity.
The building massing responds to the vernacular architecture in Fort Thomas and is inspired by the buildings in Tower Park and the treasure trove of various styles of residential architecture in town. The material palette references the Tower Park buildings with stone masonry bases and columns, the masonry and glass corner feature, and with the two tones of red brick as the main building material. Millwork and cast stone detailing, along with balconies and projecting gable bays add texture and depth to the façade architecture.
The roof pitches and the rhythm of the gables along Fort Thomas Avenue are characteristic to Fort Thomas. The building scale is broken down with the undulation of the façade and the eave height which is kept as low as possible so that the building is not perceived too tall. The building is stepped down a full story at the south end to be more compatible with the residential scale on Woodland Place.
The covered promenade walk with occasional trellises provides an urban oasis for the people strolling along the street. While the building frames the street space, the setbacks are large enough for landscaping to soften the environment, and for a zone of slower pace walk or seating next to the building – with connection to the adjacent public sidewalk.
The ends of the building will be designed with care for long views from the streets, and the rear of the building will be treated with attention to detail, so that it does not feel like a back side. The corner of Fort Thomas and Highland has a special emphasis – the building greets visitors and residents with the architectural landmark feature of the glazed masonry corner, covered walk, and an inviting outdoor plaza with vibrant commercial activity and nighttime lighting of the homes above.
Located to the north of the proposed mixed-use building, a two-story commercial building has modern commercial street-level space suitable for a restaurant – with 16’ high ceiling and outdoor seating area adjacent to large storefront and operable glazed wall systems. The building works in harmony with the historic commercial structures scattered in various locations along Fort Thomas Avenue and extends the commercial activity from the corner of Highland and Fort Thomas northbound.
The proposed exterior material is a light to medium colored brick, compatible with the historic commercial buildings along Fort Thomas Avenue, aluminum storefront and windows with metal panel accents. The punched openings of the second-floor office tenant space include a projecting window bay for architectural articulation. The proposed structure has a flat roof, and a parapet with some variation in height. This structure together with the mixed-use building provides varied architectural language and articulation along pedestrian-friendly Fort Thomas Avenue. The two-story commercial building also provides a transition in scale back to the more residential building type to the north of the project site.
Conceptual Landscape Narrative
The proposed design seeks to integrate meaningful landscape elements that enhance the overall aesthetic character of the site, complement the unique sense of place of Fort Thomas, and are considerate of adjacent neighbors. The landscape strategy can be described using the following zones:
EXISTING CITY STREET TREES
The existing six trees will be impacted during demolition/construction and are placed in the incorrect location for the new development. Six new trees will be planted on Fort Thomas Ave., three on Highland Avenue, and four on Woodland Place. The species, size and character of the new trees will follow the city guidelines. The new sidewalk design will follow the existing city streetscape materials.
FORT THOMAS AVENUE STREETSCAPE
The sequence from the curb includes a 4’ wide strip of grass with street trees, a 6’ wide sidewalk, a 3 1/2’” ’area for a 30” high hedge and an 11’ wide covered promenade with a roof or trellis. This sequence runs the length of the block with several entrances to the commercial business and residential entry. The area from the curb to storefronts is all on one level to conform to accessibility requirements.
On the corner of Fort Thomas and Highland, a Plaza will feature decorative paving, seasonal flowers in planters, and colorful umbrella tables for outdoor dining and socializing. As illustrated, half of the plaza space will be shaded by a trellis and the other half in the sun. The Plaza will be south-east facing and a great place to gather in the center of town. Hardscape materials will be coordinated with city sidewalk streetscape materials.
The second building will feature a restaurant with outdoor dining and nanawalls that open the indoor space into the street. The design will activate the town center.
In the 30 ft. space between the two buildings, a garden with trees and landscaped flower beds will provide condo residents a place to relax. The adjacent restaurant will also enjoy views into the garden. The area will allow another access point to the public parking lot and retail business.
COMMERCIAL ENTRANCE ALONG PUBLIC PARKING LOT
Plantings including hedges of bushes trimmed to 30” high will be planted in sections along the public parking lot to block the car headlights entering the storefront glass. Several walks will be placed in the hedge to allow easy access to businesses.
A large landscape area will be located at the south end of the parking lot for a resident lobby entry and drop off area. Residents will be able to access Ft. Thomas Avenue via a galleria that connects both sides of the building. The north residential entry will be off Fort Thomas Avenue.
A 20-30’ wide buffer zone is provided between the adjacent residential area and the surface parking lot. The edge of the proposed public parking lot is at the same location as the existing commercial surface parking. The entire length of the public parking lot will be planted with a dense layering of shrubs, evergreens and flowering trees to screen the parking lot and car headlights from three adjacent homes.
Three street trees and a strip of green ground cover and plants between the sidewalk and building will be installed along Highland.
The entire area of the Grosser Accounting parking lot and retaining wall will be replaced with a hillside slope of new plantings. The goal is to remove an unsightly paved area and replace it with a visual amenity for the Woodland neighborhood.
SURFACE PARKING LOT
The lot will have islands with trees to break up the area of asphalt. Parking lot lighting will direct the light downward and not into the adjacent neighborhood.
The signage design and lighting of building façade will be presented at the appropriate time to the Zoning Administration for review.