Commission Prefers to See Budd Dairy Warehouses Preserved

Walker Evans Walker Evans Commission Prefers to See Budd Dairy Warehouses PreservedAll visuals by Tim Lai ArchitecT.
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A transformative proposal for the Budd Dairy site in Italian Village was announced last week, suggesting the replacement of several older single-story warehouse structures with new modern mixed-use apartment buildings, along with the restoration of the historic Budd Dairy building. The project went in front of the Italian Village Commission on Tuesday, and several commissioners asked that the warehouse be given a second look.

“I’m having a hard time seeing why you’re taking the Durable Slate building down,” said Commissioner David Cooke. “The Fox in Snow Cafe is a great example of reuse of a similar structure. I’m not in favor of wiping out buildings that have potential. I’d like to see more adaptive reuse.”

Commission member Josh Lapp said he was in favor of the demolition of the Durable Slate building, but would like to see some of the others repurposed. He asked the developer for a more diverse mix of architecture between modern and historic. Commission member Rex Hagerling voiced a stronger opinion in favor of preserving the buildings.

The original 1949 Durable Slate building should be maintained — that’s really important to me,” he stated. “I’m opposed to demolishing all of these warehouses. There’s a fantastic opportunity to do an incredible adaptable reuse. That’s the essence of what we’re trying to save.”

Developer Kevin Lykens explained that the reuse of the buildings has been explored, but that the task is easier said than done.

“The warehouse buildings are old, and there’s not a lot of significance to them as far as architecture goes,” he said. “They’re connected with different floor plates which would make it hard to do residential. And the sandstone exterior of the Durable Slate building is very deteriorated. It’s a difficult building.”

Commission member Jason Sudy said that while it’s hard to get a sense of the Durable Slate building from the outside, the warehouses behind the Budd Diary building should be reexamined first.

“I just went back there again with the eye of potential demolition,” he said. “They’re a lot cooler than I remember. I’m not 100% opposed to demolition… but I need to think about it some more.”

Sudy noted that overall he felt excited about the development as a whole, with the echoed desire to see more architectural diversity in the buildings so that the giant project doesn’t end up looking like one giant project.

“We don’t look at this as single hybrid housing development,” said Architect Tim Lai during the presentation. “In other words, we don’t want to build a castle, we want to build a park,” he noted in reference to the green spaces added along Fourth Street and between some of the buildings.

“We created a curved green space in front that is 30 feet deep at the widest point and tapers down to both ends,” he added. “Doing that we introduce tree lawns, a spacious sidewalk, and more greenspace for pedestrians. We’re using that curve line to break up the building mass.”

“I’m not sure I understand the private and public discussion yet,” said commission member Todd Boyer. “The buildings don’t access green space. I also have hard time with the Budd Dairy warehouses going away. There’s a big opportunity to do something there. The warehouses are the hard part, but I think they’ll be the most successful.”

“Obviously, it’s very natural for us to develop a romantic attachment to old warehouses,” responded Lai. “I love them… I work in one every day. But we need to demolish the buildings in back because we currently have the parking in the front, and that is not the most friendly use for Fourth Street. The idea is to move parking park to back to be able to support mixed use commercial in the front.”

Commission member Ben Goodman shared similar concern about demolition and green space issues, but closed out the review session with praise for the application.

“This was a fantastic package and a great presentation,” he stated. “We don’t always get to hear the logic and principles behind these projects. This is good stuff, and I appreciate that.”

The commission chose to continue the discussion on the project at a future meeting with a revised project update from the developer.

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All renderings and visuals via Tim Lai ArchitecT.


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