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New shops reviewed for Nevada City

Nevada City planning commissioners and the public got a first look Wednesday night at a retail-residential building proposed for the city’s historic district.

The commission didn’t act on the application for an approximately 15,000-square-foot building and parking garage at 100 Union St., which now features a vacant gas station from the 1960s. Instead, the panel questioned builder Gary Tintle and architect Bruce Boyd about the appearance of the building and allowed the public to comment on the project.

“I’ve been looking at (the gas station lot) for a number of years with the idea of returning this block of downtown to the scale and nature of the historic district,” Boyd said.



Boyd designed the new version of the city’s landmark Elks Building at 109 N. Pine St. after the original was destroyed by fire in 2002. Tintle was also the builder for that project. For this building, they are proposing about 5,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and about 4,000 square feet of commercial and apartment space upstairs. The remaining square footage will be made up of a parking garage with about 12 spaces.

If approved, Boyd said, the four shops would each have a distinct look that would fit in with the 25-foot storefronts found downtown. Different styles of old brick from Nevada City would be used in the building, which would feature such accents as old metal shutters.




“I will try to use little details like that to bring it back to the historic context,” Boyd said. “We’re trying to bring elements from the city and not invent things that weren’t here.”

But Nevada City resident Tony Rosas said he thought consideration should be given to other design styles. He noted the uniqueness of City Hall, built in the moderne style, and the art deco courthouse, both of which were added to the city’s landscape more than 70 years ago.

“This really too closely mimics what we have in town,” Rosas said.

Commission Chairwoman Laurie Oberholtzer said it is unlikely that there will be any new construction in the historic district after Tintle’s project.

“I just don’t think the new-style buildings would fly with us,” she said.

With the way the Union Street area is now, city resident Glenda Zamora said, there is a feeling of open space as people enter town. She was concerned about the scale of the building.

“You’re going to be looking at a different landscape,” she said. “I feel like this is going to be like a big block dropped in the area.”

Bob Buhlis, owner of Nevada City Postal Co. and vice president of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, said he supported the project. He cautioned against making it look like the faux Old West structures in Boom Town near Reno.

“We must make it look like it belongs in the Victorian setting of Nevada City,” Buhlis said.

Generally, the commission members voiced their support for the project. But no action can be taken on it until the city’s environmental report is reviewed by the state and public. That will take about a month, city officials said.

Until then, Oberholtzer said the commission may take more information on the project at its next meeting in two weeks. In answer to a member of the public who criticized the commission for rejecting a request to turn the gas station into a mini-mart, Oberholtzer said that in light of the proposed project, it was the correct decision. She also noted a proposal, which was not approved by the City Council, that would have seen the city trade its Old Nevada City Airport property for the 100 Union Street parcel.

“We didn’t think (the minimart) would be appropriate for the city,” she said. “We said ‘no’ twice waiting for a better project. And that really does happen.”


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