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Architecture Board Rejects Family Dollar Proposal

Plans for the discount store at the corner of Detroit and Grace avenues under scrutiny.

If developers at the intersection of Detroit and Grace avenues, they’ve got to get back to the drawing board. 

That’s putting it mildly.

An architect representing Family Dollar presented plans to the Lakewood Architectural Board of Review last Thursday — and the feedback wasn’t positive. 

, a chain discount store, is looking to open a 9,000-sqaure-foot, single-story structure in the northeast portion of the former at the corner of Detroit and Grace avenues. An adjacent building on the property would be demolished to make way for parking.

But don’t expect the construction to begin anytime soon.

“There needs to be more articulation to make this more interesting and make it fit in the context of Lakewood,” said board member Michael Fleenor. “Detroit Avenue is not the typical suburban strip, and the typical big-box commercial building really isn’t really going to be appropriate.” 

One after the other, members of the review board slammed the plans.

Here are a few of the critiques:

  • The building needs windows — at the very least on Detroit and Grace avenues. 
  • No split-faced blocks.
  • Needs a variety of bricks.
  • Façade should have more depth.
  • New pylon signs are not allowed by city code.
  • Using grass as landscaping between parking spots and the building “doesn’t cut it.”
  • Remove metal awning from the plans. 
  • Fences — either iron or board-on-board — would be required.
  • Need for additional landscaping.
  • Additional lighting required.

“This is one of the few opportunities where we have a buildable site,” said board chairman Jeffery Foster. “It’s a huge opportunity for us — we don’t want to lose as a community.”

Board members pointed to the and the on Detroit Avenue as successful projects that fit the architectural style of the city.

Tara Pesta, from mbi/k2m Architecture — the firm representing Family Dollar — was on hand to field concerns from the board.

She said the company has already taken “a step up” from its designs of a typical Family Dollar.

“They are willing to work with you, and meet halfway,” Pesta said, adding that the store doesn’t have the budget to complete a CVS-style project. “There are just different scales of profit and their market. We will look at some of those improvements, but we’re really be limited to those cost-effective options because of what it is.”

Mary Louise Madigan, the city councilwoman who represents the neighborhood, attended the meeting to voice her concerns. One among them was the proposed demolition of the historic home that sits on the southwest portion of the property.

“You’re going to have to take another step up,” she said, addressing the architect. “This is a really big opportunity for anybody to develop in our city — on this very populated side of town — Family Dollar got here first but there are really high standards. We really need to have a business in here that appreciates our high standards.”

Chris August 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM
Let's hope they can't meet the standards and give up.
Alex Vandehoff August 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM
I agree with you Chris. Stay strong Architecture Board!
Sandra K. Thweatt August 15, 2011 at 01:01 PM
I would like to know where the Architecture Board was when the Melt sign was approved. Talk about not fitting in! Really!!
Peter Grossetti August 15, 2011 at 01:25 PM
amen, Sandra
Alex Vandehoff August 15, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Sandra and Peter - I recall reading about that, I'm certain it was reviewed and actually revised from the original submission (though I cannot find the article right now, may not have been on Patch). What don't you like about it? It's not very large, has a retro style, and is highlighting a homegrown local business that has a national reputation. Seems positive to me. It's also similar to the sign for Deagan's, coincidentally. My guess is that it's realize that those types of signs are easier for motorists, bikers, and pedestrians to see (in that order). It can be hard for visitors to find parking as is, might as well make their destinations easily noticeable!
plw August 15, 2011 at 02:20 PM
I like the Melt sign.
Ray L August 15, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I think it looks out place ,but money talks
Peter Grossetti August 15, 2011 at 02:53 PM
As far as the pure asthetic of the Melt sign goes ... I have no problem (I never said I didn't like it). My concern is that I constanly hear about "the Lakewood look" ... and making sure that new buildings, signs, etc. fit the "Lakewood look". Yet no one - to my knowledge - has defined what the "Lakewood look" is. ABR's definition is at best a moving target. IMO, the "Lakewood look" is: an inconsistant outlay of varying architectural styles with harmonious attributes ... which, in hindsight, DOES in fact, make the neon Melt sign fit it. :) Detroit Avenue has become a cacophy of marketing/promotional banners, flags, sandwich boards, etc.
Paul Grimm August 15, 2011 at 03:57 PM
The Melt sign is light years better looking and is more effective signage than the awful brown-on-beige lettering that most Lakewood storefronts have.
Peter Grossetti August 15, 2011 at 04:04 PM
amen, Paul ... but I'm still trying to figure out how it "fits in" (which is ARB's charge).
Alex Vandehoff August 15, 2011 at 06:20 PM
What's that famous quote - 'i know ____ when i see it' It's probably something like that. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not on the ARB and there are people that are. Just because I can't quite define exactly what their job is doesn't mean they aren't doing it, as I know very little about the things that they are judging. All I can tell you is if something is pleasing to me or not. I'm positive that the ARB takes much more than that into consideration. So...carry on ARB!

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