The properties at 1301 and 1309 Orange Avenue, owned by father and son Ben and Alex Shaw, had two design elements submitted to Coronado’s Design Review Commission in recent weeks. Design elements were brought forth separately by the two tenants in Spanish Revival style La Avenida; the forthcoming Blanco Cocina and Cantina on the ground floor and Stake Chophouse & Bar on the second floor of the property.
At the Design Review Commission meeting on April 27, 2022, representatives from Fox restaurant chain Blanco Cocina and Cantina were present when the commission was presented with their proposed design for the first-floor space at 1301 Orange Avenue. Previously occupied by Bistro d’Asia and Côtier, the space is recognizable by its red roof tiles, arches and domes.
The proposal included removing the arches from the west side, Orange Avenue side of the building, as well as the north side, B Avenue side of the building, expanding the outdoor seating in these two sections with green awnings over the roof and sliding storage areas . Bronze framed front doors to replace the arched windows in each of these dining areas. An additional 3×3 split light window and sliding bronze framed takeout would replace the existing arched window immediately to the left of the main entrance.
The main entrance would include a rectangular double wooden door with glass and bronze colored hardware. A repeating stripe pattern of blue, white and terracotta would accompany the entrance on either side of the double doors and would also extend beneath the building’s windows. Vertical, decorative lights were also proposed for each side of the main entrance.
Minor changes include painting the existing B Avenue railing of the al fresco dining area an iron ore color, adding a teak cap and adding this railing to the proposed additional al fresco dining area along the Orange Avenue side of the property. String lights, patio heaters, square planters and ficus trees were also included in the proposal to decorate these outdoor dining areas, and a mural painted red, featuring abstract birds and floral designs in a repeating pattern, would also adorn the facade wall on B Avenue behind the Main sign at the entrance.
The green awnings would include “Blanco Cocina + Cantina” in consistent typeface and spacing within the 8-inch drop guard. A main sign with “Blanco” in individual channel letters in green would be placed above the main entrance, with each letter outlined with white LED strip lighting to mimic the look of an exposed neon sign. A black canopy steel frame would sit below “Blanco” and contain “Cocina + Cantina” in smaller typeface in white. A second option for the main restaurant’s signage would place it on the dome, which representatives said would be the preferred option if no changes were made to the dome in the 1309 Orange Avenue proposal.
The Design Review Commission had previously asked that the Fox Restaurants design explore an option that would retain the existing arches, which the proposed design at this meeting said was architecturally or structurally impossible, while allowing for indoor and outdoor dining Draft was retained. The reason given for this conclusion was the size of the opening and the existing lintel height.
After discussion between the commissioners and Fox Restaurants representatives, the Design Review Commission requested approval of the design and Option 2 design of the front signage (on the dome) on the condition that the arch of the main entrance be retained and the awnings not are scalloped and there would be no awning over the entrance arch, that a landscape plan would be submitted at a later date for review by the Commission and that all other staffing conditions provided are met. The motion passed unanimously, with all the commissioners present voting in favour.
Local restaurant owner David Spatafore was present at the May 11, 2022 Design Review Commission meeting to present the design proposal for the second floor of Shaw’s property at 1309 Orange Avenue. Stake Chophouse & Bar, part of the Blue Bridge Hospitality group of local restaurants owned by Spatafore, is the current occupant of the property.
The design proposal for Stake focused on changes to the roof and second floor area to allow for an expanded outdoor dining area. Stake Chophouse & Bar’s proposal would remove the existing domed portion of the red tile roof and reconfigure this space as an extension of Stake’s patio, adding new glass railings and an additional fire pit. Since the goal of the proposal is to accommodate additional customers, a new parking plan application would also need to be submitted for consideration to meet the city’s parking requirements.
“We’ve seen a massive shift in customer preferences and popularity, and al fresco dining is more popular than ever and in high demand,” Spatafore explained at the meeting. “To be competitive in this city in both Coronado and San Diego, we need to maximize al fresco dining as much as possible.”
Spatafore also cited problems with water leaks and impaired visibility from the dome as part of the motivation for bringing the idea of revamping the second floor structure to the Shaws. “The reason I believe there is no easy answer to love it or hate it is because it is about living with form over function and understanding what the design of this current building does with the sudden elevations and flat roofs,” he added. “If there are reasonable requests or suggestions to achieve all of our goals, we are open to them. We’re a small, local business and to talk about the design ruining the character of downtown Orange Avenue? I think this is wrong. I think what has the potential to ruin Orange Avenue’s downtown character is rent rates and what has happened to the rents and who can afford them in the future.”
During a period of public comment, various Coronadanians spoke out about the proposal. Rena Clancy, President of the Coronado Chamber of Commerce, spoke on behalf of the Chamber in favor of Spatafore’s design proposal, citing a desire to support Coronado’s local businesses. “With [Spatafore] Observing all rules and regulations, our focus is on him being a local Coronadanian operating and competing with major restaurants and major hotels in the Coronado area,” Clancy explained. “There’s undoubtedly a lot of competition and we want to keep it as local as possible and enable our local restaurant owners who live here, who have kids in school here, giving back to our non-profits and organizations is very important.”
Christine Stokes, executive director of the Coronado Historical Association (CHA), spoke on behalf of the CHA to advocate for the preservation of the existing property at 1301 and 1309 Orange Avenue. “I would like to bring to the attention of the Design Review Commission the provisions of the Orange Avenue Corridor Specific Plan and the importance of the architecture of the La Avenida complex in the plan,” Stokes began. She explained that the plan was approved by the Coronado City Council in 2004, after community workshops and citizen participation, as a policy document that would act as a bridge between the city’s overall plan and individual project development.
Stokes commented that according to this document, the La Avenida complex is listed as a model building with respect to the document’s purpose of protecting the architectural character and identity of Coronado’s business parks. “This building was constructed in 1938 and was designed and built by noted Coronado builder Walter Vestal,” she added. “At the time of its construction and in the decades that followed, the building received multiple awards for its unique Spanish Revival architecture and as an anchor for Coronado’s distinct identity.”
Like Stokes, various other community members advocated retaining the architectural style of the La Avenida complex, and particularly the historic dome.
During the discussion, the Design Review Committee recognized that approving this project would affect their prior approval of the Fox restaurant proposal for Blanco Cocina and Cantina in the area below Stake Chophouse & Bar as they approve their main signage for placement on the dome had .
Asked if a sub-committee or something similar could be formed to work with both bidders (Spatafore and representatives from Fox Restaurants for Blanco Cocina and Cantina) to find a solution that respects the architectural features of the complex while meeting the needs To meet the requirements of both applicants as best as possible, the city’s chief urban planner, Jesse Brown, stated that this was not possible at this time because they were two separate applications.
“We can’t mix these two projects,” Brown commented. “As much as we would like that, unfortunately the owners are not stepping in and presenting it themselves. They have left it up to each tenant to do this separately and that complicates things. Legally, we must treat these as two separate applications.”
Upon hearing community feedback on the desire to retain the dome, and citing the Orange Avenue Corridor Specific Plan, the Design Review Committee made a motion not to approve the Stake Chophouse & Bar proposal in its current form, but to approve it to proceed with the proposal so that Spatafore can bring a revised plan to the Commission that will address these comments. The motion was carried with the three commissioners present all voting in favour.
The next Design Review Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 25 at 3 p.m. at City Hall (1825 Strand Way) or can be followed online at the city’s website at https://coronado.12milesout.com/#page=1 will.
VOL. 112, NO. May 20-18, 2022