Changes cannot have a permanent negative impact on pedestrian safety
The authority reviewing a site plan shall approve the site plan only if it finds that the site plan:
A. Meets the criteria for its approval established under this title; and
21.55.100 (old code) – Nonconforming parking facilities, loading facilities, signs or other characteristics of use.
Changing the Sears anchor space from the Mall* concept to a strip center will have a negative impact on the rest of the Mall businesses
3. Whether relaxation of any requirement of 21.50.320 would impose any significantly greater negative impact on surrounding property;
*The Anchorage Planning Department cites the “Illustrated Book of Development Definitions” as a resource that they use if a term is not specifically defined in the code. According to the “Illustrated Book of Development Definitions,” a “mall” is defined as:
(1) A shaded walk or public promenade; (2) a shopping center where stores front on both sides of a pedestrian way, which may be enclosed or open.
According to Municipal Code, changes in an existing “Large Retail Establishment” built before the new “Big Box” standards were put into place, are required to bring the building closer to conformity with the same standards that are applied to a new building
A. Intent. The standards in this section promote architectural variety, compatible scale, access amenities, and mitigation of negative impacts. These standards govern site plan review by the planning and zoning commission for large retail establishments. Where these standards conflict with other provisions of this title, these standards and the terms of site plans approved under this section shall govern.
J. Pedestrian access. The establishment shall provide sufficient accessibility, safety, and convenience to pedestrians, customers and employees. Unobstructed sidewalks shall link the site to existing public sidewalks, its entrances, adjacent transit stops, and abutting residential and commercial areas. Sidewalks shall also be provided along the full length of any building where it adjoins a parking lot. Sufficient sidewalks or barriers shall be provided between parked cars and buildings to prevent vehicles from protruding into reasonable pedestrian passage. Sidewalks shall be separated from adjacent streets by an area sufficient for snow storage and to provide a buffer for pedestrians from vehicular traffic.
CASE NOTE: The Commission allowed Sears to remove a sidewalk next to the building where it adjoins a parking lot (next to the loading dock). In the Commission’s defense that sentence (underlined above) had been removed from this section in the analysis that staff provided to them.
K. Community spaces. Appropriate interior and exterior public areas shall be provided and maintained for customers and visitors to the site to congregate and relax.
CASE NOTE: In their application Sears cites that the Mall seating would fulfill this requirement even though the new space does not have an interior connection, so it is not part of the Mall
O. Northern design elements. The commission may require the provision of design elements that address Anchorage’s distinct geography, low light angles, length of days, cold temperatures, wind, snow and ice.
CASE NOTE: The Commission allowed Sears to remove awnings along both the Seward Highway & Northern Lights side of the building, removing protection from the elements on the only routes that Mall shoppers have to access the Nordstrom Rack space.
P. Aesthetic characteristics.
CASE NOTE: The Commission allowed Sears to remove the awning that was in place across the north (Northern Lights side of the Mall and replace it with a loading dock. That side of the building now includes no windows, arcades or overhangs.
* Since this application first came before the Commission in 2014, the applicant had the choice of doing it under the old version of the code or the new version.