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Rainey Street bungalow bar seeks to expand, HLC expresses concerns

Thursday, September 5, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

The popular watering hole Clive Bar inhabits a small Craftsman house at 609 Davis St., which is just on the corner of Rainey Street. The owners are looking to reconfigure the property to add a two-story structure with a mezzanine and balcony to the rear of the property.

Built between 1918 and 1920, the home is within the Rainey Street National Register Historic District but is listed as a non-contributing structure. The house does not have a historic designation, though due to its location the Historic Landmark Commission felt that the addition should be conscientious of its surroundings.

In accordance with this sentiment, the commission postponed the case until its next meeting, saying as it is currently designed the structure is “looming” and “heavy.”

“I think I like it, but I think I don’t know,” said Commissioner Witt Featherston.

The Rainey district is known for bar-hopping and late-night revelry. With this reality in mind, Commission Kevin Koch said that the property owners should strive to keep the original structure as the focal point of the property, but that the addition “could be much, much, much worse.”

Indeed, Francisco Arredondo, the architect on the project, told commissioners that “our client has the ability and potential to maximize the site by at least two or three times than what we are presenting today.” One of the concessions Arredondo said the developer is offering is to increase the side street setback to 17 feet from the required 15 feet in order “to place the existing building in a more prominent space.”

He explained that in designing the new addition he attempted to abide by the standards set forth by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. “The main purpose of the design was to preserve the existing building,” he said.

Still, Commissioner Ben Heimsath said that as designed, “Right now I think it feels jarring in that location.” He explained that by choosing to complement the already gabled Craftsman home with another structure featuring gables, the design appears heavy. He encouraged Arredondo to come up with a more logical relationship between the two structures.

Acknowledging that the bungalow is in a district that is rapidly evolving from its roots as a sleepy neighborhood, Commissioner Kelly Little was optimistic about the potential of the addition. “It’s a fun design. I don’t dislike it,” she said.

A new version of the design will return before the commission next month.

Commissioners Beth Valenzuela, Alex Papavasiliou, Blake Tollett and Emily Reed were absent.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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