Posted: May 17, 2007, 6:18 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
On a 3-2 vote the winner was the small high windows.
City opts for history over commerce: Council rejects bigger windows for Anderson Bank Building
By Beth Curda/Enterprise staff writer
Published May 16, 2007 - 19:35:40 CDT.
The city again has turned down Jim Kidd's request to lower the windows on the building he owns at Second and G streets.
The Anderson Bank Building, built in 1914, is a nod to the era when 90-year-old Davis was young and its downtown had been home to hog yards, grain and hay warehouses, a few stores and saloons and a windmill manufacturer.
When part of the two-story building housed a bank years ago, its high windows suited that. Today, though, Kidd prefers to lease the space to retail stores, and with the window sills at 5 feet above the ground, displaying merchandise for window shoppers is virtually impossible.
Kidd says that is a detriment to business and to the health of the downtown area, and he has been asking for years for permission to lower the windows or add panes of glass below the window sills so passers-by could see into the business, which today is a futon and mattress store.
On Tuesday, he told the City Council that, with the pressure of large chain stores in cities all around Davis, it is important that the city do what it could to enable the downtown area to compete.
“The big boxes are at the gates of Davis,” he said, “and they continue to pull our shoppers and our sales dollars outside of the city.”
Kidd spent more than $1 million restoring and upgrading the building's interior following a Christmas fire in 2002, he said, and he believed the lower windows would be another positive change.
The council's vote against Kidd's project was 3-2 with Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson and Councilman Don Saylor dissenting.
Asmundson said she enjoys window shopping and impulse buying, and other shoppers may do the same, but Councilman Lamar Heystek said he never window shops in downtown Davis. Instead, “I go downtown because I believe that the products and services (there) are superior.”
Heystek said he opposed Target because it didn't fit the character of the city and the same was true with Kidd's project. If the city put economics above all else, he said, Davis would look different. The city has to draw the line.
Saylor said a bank no longer is feasible in the space and he would like the building to stay vibrant.
“It's not going to make or break the downtown,” he said, “but it's going to contribute or it's going to ... draw it down.”
Councilman Stephen Souza wasn't sold on the idea that a business other than a retail store - a spa, restaurant, salon or saloon - couldn't succeed there.
Some who spoke during the meeting suggested that Kidd be more creative with marketing.
The building is one of 16 local landmarks in Davis, said city planner Ike Njoku. Others are the train depot, Richards Boulevard tunnel under the railroad tracks, Hunt-Boyer Mansion, Davis Community Church, the Varsity Theatre, Davis Cemetery, City Hall and a few homes.
Njoku said the Anderson Bank Building is one of two or three commercial landmarks that are closest to their original appearances. Some are concerned that if the Anderson building and Varsity Theatre are changed, he said, “you no longer have any single commercial landmark building left in Davis.”
Gale Sosnick, who spoke during the public comment portion of the hearing, said other features of the building - the width of the windows, arches and brick - define it and give it character, and she would like to see the space more viable.
“I don't like seeing empty stores downtown,” she said Tuesday. “I don't like seeing ‘for rent' signs. (That) says something about the town: It's not healthy.”
Jim Becket disputed an implication he didn't support the downtown area because he opposed Kidd's project. He said in 2000, when he received a Chamber of Commerce award, that he couldn't imagine living in a city without a strong downtown.
He added Tuesday: “I also cannot imagine living in a (city) that didn't honor its heritage.”
Speaker Tim Allis said he collected 98 signatures against Kidd's project in a last-minute petition drive during the weekend.
On the other hand, the boards of directors of the Davis Downtown Business Association and the Davis Chamber of Commerce both supported lowering the windows.
Kidd declined comment following the vote.
- Reach Beth Curda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 747-8045.