Ariel Suites
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— A 19-story, 143-apartment, and 9,618-square-foot retail proposal drew varied responses at the Centre City Advisory Committee pre-design subcommittee meeting on January 7, 2009. The development replaces a parking lot on the southwest corner of Beech Street and Kettner Boulevard at the northern end of Little Italy. It is a good fit, of superior quality, and environmentally friendly, per Gwynne Pugh, the agency’s consultant architect. However, concern expressed at the meeting included design issues and the blocking of the 1994 Wyland whale mural on the San Diego National Bank building to the north.

Michael Witkin, chair of the subcommittee and an architect himself, had many concerns about the lack of a “graceful transition to the sky” and the visual look of the towering building, as did other subcommittee members. Also, the San Diego National Bank raised several concerns about the potential negative impacts on the area, including the parking lot adjacent to the west. The owners’ representative indicated that many changes will likely be made to respond to some of the comments. While no decisions are made by the subcommittee, the concerns expressed here will likely follow the project to its review by the full Advisory Committee, now scheduled for the February meeting.

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