A web of red balloons three stories high covered the currently empty plot of land at Old Brockway Road and South River Street on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The balloons, fixed to the ground with strings and weights from 8 to 9 a.m., were an attempt to share the height and square footage of the proposed Hotel Avery.
The display was hour one of a Historic Preservation Advisory Committee meeting, and members of the public were encouraged to visit the site before heading to the Truckee chambers for official public comment and deliberation. Ultimately, HPAC voted 3-1 to not recommend the project to the planning commission, citing the building’s size. Chair Bill Kenny was the single vote in support of the project.
“Looking at the proposed architecture as it was presented to us in the August meeting and as we saw it today in the balloons,” said HPAC vice chair Brendan Riley, “I come back to the motion that was made in March: I think this building is largely consistent with the design guidelines, but the proposed mass and scale is not consistent with the South River [neighborhood].”
The decision came after nearly an hour of public comment, much of which opposed the project not just because of its size, but also its appearance and the lack of parking (the latter of which will be discussed in more detail at future planning commission meetings).
“Today’s viewing demonstrates that the hotel is not compatible,” said Truckee resident Dan Cockrum to the HPAC. “The only realistic recommendation you can make today is to go on the record denying … this design.”
Of course, there were those expressing support for the project, too.
“I feel like as a business owner and supporter of this community for over 40 years … I feel this lot is important to Truckee’s central core,” said Lynn Gibson, a local independent commercial broker. “On those merits and the renderings I saw today, I’m very much in support.”
Despite the HPAC’s declination to recommend the project, Hotel Avery’s developer, Gertrude Holdings, can still push the project on to the planning commission.
“We’re not 100% sure of the direction they want to go [yet],” said Yumie Dahn, associate planner with the town.
Update 10/15/19: This article has been corrected to reflect the current developer of the proposed Hotel Avery project, Gertrude Holdings, rather than our previous reporting that it was JMA Ventures, who was the primary developer of two larger and previously proposed Hotel Avery projects in 2008 and 2012.
Main image caption: 99 RED BALLOONS: The red balloons that rose up to 50 feet in the sky were representing the size of the proposed Hotel Avery at the intersection of Old Brockway Road and South River Street on Sept. 25. Members of the public were invited to roam the site, then attend a Historic Preservation Advisory Committee meeting for comment and discussion. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink