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The Look & Feel and Planning in the Gateway Area
and for Arcata in general – with 3D images


Recent 3D Images - New!

The 3D images in the draft Environmental Impact Report

A series of 3D images that show the potential construction of four buildings in the Gateway Area. Rare views of a partial look of potential 7-story buildings. ******** MUST SEE ********

3D images from the Gateway Code — and no Linear Park !

For two years we have been waiting for 3D images of what a build-out might look like for the design of the Gateway Area Plan. Finally, here in February 2024, we have some 3D images of what multiple buildings in the Gateway area might look like.

The Gateway Barrel District “Illustrative Plan” of 1,500 apartment units

The new General Plan 2045 draft Environmental Impact Report contains an image of an "illustrative plan" that shows a possible build-out design for the Gateway Barrel District. We've been waiting two years for what a potential build-out might look like. This image, plus the new images from Version 3 of the Gateway Code, have finally given us a clue.

Planwest 3D Massing Diagrams are non-existent — No 3D diagrams to evaluate the Gateway heights and massing

Reading time: 4 minutes -- The "Gateway Area Form-Based Code Enhanced Content & Outreach" contract amendment with Planwest for $118,000 was approved at the December 21, 2022 Council meeting. The "Plan Area Massing Diagram" would be especially useful at this time, as we are discussing massing and building heights. Eight months later, and it's never been delivered.

The Look & Feel of the Gateway Area

3D Images of Buildings

The Form-Based Code and the draft Gateway Area Plan

Design Considerations

Uniontown Revisioning: Put housing over CVS and Safeway

In May, 2020, six HSU students created a proposal to build apartments in the space above Uniontown Shopping Center, at 7th and F Streets.  With a height limit of 35 feet (3 stories) the plan included 66 apartments of sizes from 350 square feet to 1800 square feet. The report also includes a discussion of Form-Based Codes and required design elements and considerations.

Building and Massing 1: Current and Proposed Height Standards

The Building & Massing Presentation that arrived on August 12 provides so much needed information, along with the first glimpses of the long-awaited 3D modeling. 1: Current and Proposed Height Standards.

Building and Massing 3: Proposed Setbacks and Massing Impacts

The Building & Massing Presentation that arrived on August 12 provides so much needed information, along with the first glimpses of the long-awaited 3D modeling. 3: Proposed Setbacks and Massing Impacts

Density and Feasibility Study – from Ryan Call of Urban Field Studio – July 11, 2023

IMPORTANT presentation to the Planning Commission, July 11, 2023. Can high-density tall buildings be constructed in the Gateway Area? This report presents findings on four specific sites. The answer: In theory, yes. On a practical, economically-feasible, realistic basis -- the answer is NO.

Will we see 7-story buildings in the Gateway Area ?

Three local experts are telling us that tall buildings can not feasibly be built in the Gateway Plan: the Arcata Fire District, Danco president Chris Dart, and renown sea level rise specialist Aldaron Laird. Has the time finally arrived that we might want to listen to people with knowledge and experience?

Housing Density

Visualizing Compatible Density

Examples of a range of density housing, with photos and descriptions. -- Density is a controversial subject in virtually all American communities and is often viewed as a thing to be feared. Density can be ugly. More bigger buildings, more asphalt and concrete, fewer trees and green space, less sunlight and privacy, and even less air to breath.

How much Gateway housing, really? 3,500 … 500 … or none?

Are you looking for clarity about how much housing and what kinds of housing might come out of the Gateway Area Plan? Will it be 500 apartments built over a 20 years period? After all this work of developing the Gateway Plan, it is quite possible that very little Gateway housing will be built over the next five or ten years.

Density Guide for Housing Types

A density guide that shows the variety of types of housing that is suitable for different density levels.  Which types would be suitable for Arcata?

Designs and Considerations from other Cities

A possible 6-story design for Arcata

Here's a 6-story building that could work in Arcata, with some modifications. Originally proposed for Santa Cruz, it incorporates many of the design elements and features people here have said are important.

Berkeley modular “village” housing with rooftop garden

Garden Village is a 77-unit student-orientated apartment building located in Berkeley, California completed in August of 2016. Designed to echo the massing and rhythm of the community, the innovative design departs from the standard single-volume building. Instead, 18 distinct building volumes are spread out in a garden and linked by exterior walkways in a design that seamlessly integrates into the surrounding fabric of the community.

Can the Superblocks of Barcelona work in Arcata? Yes!

The Barcelona "Superblock" design that is capturing the imagination of city citizens in Europe and all over the world -- Can this concept be applicable here in Arcata? The answer is a resounding YES. It is perfect for us here in Arcata.

Pre-Fab Modular Housing – a dozen articles and more

Modular housing could be an answer to state housing crisis. A collection of articles from other sources, and lots of photos. Modules can be assembled into apartment buildings 40% more quickly and 20% cheaper than traditional construction. ------- From factories in Vallejo, Sacramento, Klamath Falls OR, Idaho, Canada, and China.

MIG City Planning and Design: Communities can plan their own futures

MIG is a design and planning firm with over 200 employees in 14 locations, founded in 1982. "We believe that the environment around us has a profound impact on our lives. We plan, design and sustain environments that support human development." "We are a community of designers, planners, engineers, scientists and storytellers engaging, involving and acting with people in creative problem solving."

The Look and Feel all across America

We want Arcata to look like this?

Would you want to live here? Various photos of "Ugh" -- And we say:  Please not in Arcata. This page will be updated as new examples of "Ugh" roll in, so come back for more if you want. 

Podium Construction: New apartment buildings all look the same

The buildings are five to seven stories tall and have a boxy shape. The ground floor is a parking garage, sometimes combined with shops. Four or five stories of apartments or condos sit on top of this concrete “podium,” so they’re often called podium buildings. They cover a large area compared to older apartment buildings, often taking up a considerable portion of a block face. These buildings are prevalent because they maximize developers’ profits by balancing leasable floor area (more is better) with construction cost (less is better). Simply put, podium buildings represent a proven formula for creating marketable housing at a reasonable cost.

Why do so many new apartment buildings seemingly look the same?

SHORT ARTICLE *** If you think every new apartment looks the same these days, you aren’t alone. Boxy mid-rise structures have cropped up in cities across the country, drawing the ire of neighbors and some architecture critics who find the buildings bland or downright ugly. ***** Why do so many of these “podium” apartments – built in cities from Nashville to Los Angeles and which typically include retail stores or parking on the first floor – look the same? And does that even matter during a housing crisis when more units are needed? 

Windowless bedrooms? Sunlight is considered a luxury benefit

In recent years, windowless bedrooms have become somewhat normalized on college campuses. Students at the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Michigan are currently renting dorm bedrooms without windows. Sunlight in your bedroom could become a luxury as cities debate allowing landlords to rent windowless rooms in former office buildings to alleviate the housing crisis.

America’s New Apartment Buildings Look the Same

LONG ARTICLE *** These buildings are in almost every U.S. city. They range from three to seven stories tall and can stretch for blocks. They’re usually full of rental apartments, but they can also house college dorms, condominiums, hotels, or assisted-living facilities. Close to city centers, they tend toward a blocky, often colorful modernism; out in the suburbs, their architecture is more likely to feature peaked roofs and historical motifs. Their outer walls are covered with fiber cement, metal, stucco, or bricks.