The commission approved -- with conditions -- the revised preliminary development plan, the landscape and hardscape plan, the American Greetings building development plan, plans for three parking garages including one connected to the American Greetings building, and the lot split/assembly plan.
Bill McCarthy, vice-president of architecture firm RTKL, spoke of how the American Greetings building shows that Crocker Park and American Greetings want to be "good neighbors."
"It fits into the context of Crocker Park," he said, addressing the building's design as well as its connection with the rest Crocker Park.
Some key components of the American Greetings headquarters design:
- The building will be about 660,000 square feet. About 600,000 square feet will be American Greetings space, the rest will be ground-level retail space.
- McCarthy described the building's aesthetic as "modern traditional," fitting in with Crocker Park while having its own distinct touches, like a wall of windows showcasing the red rose American Greetings logo.
- The main entrance to the building will not face Crocker Road, but will be on the western side of the building.
- A high berm with trees on top will face Crocker Road, mostly hiding a truck entrance.
While the plans were approved by the Planning Commission, they ultimately have to be approved by City Council. Council returns from its summer break with a meeting on Sept. 6.
Planning and Economic Development Director Robert Parry praised the design of the American Greetings headquarters.
"It's a very attractive building," he said. "They've done a nice job of blending it into Crocker Park while it also stands out on its own."
Residents, Planning Commission members and Parry brought up some concerns about the plans, including:
- The sight of trucks parked at the service entrance of American Greetings, which faces Crocker Road. Commission member Daniel Meehan wondered how visible trucks parked outside would be to pedestrians walking nearby. Jack Bialosky of Bialosky & Partners said that there were five service bays, so trucks would be able to go inside to deliver food or office supplies, or pick up trash. A screening wall would be a security concern, he added.
- Lights from cars using the American Greetings parking garage affecting neighbors to the south and west. Bialosky said they will use trees, concrete crash walls and an outdoor textile screen on the western wall of the garage to minimize light. Much of the southern wall will be corrugated or standing-seam metal, and concrete crash walls.
- Noise from the heating and cooling system on the roof. Parry was worried there wasn't enough screening to protect neighbors to the south. McCarthy said his firm had brought in an acoustical engineer and that noise was not an issue.
Because the Crocker Park items took almost two hours to get through, five items on the agenda, including an adult day care facility for Our Lady of the Wayside, were tabled until the Sept. 10 Planning Commission meeting.
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