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Outdoor Amenity Areas (TC-1-21)

Outdoor Amenity Areas (TC-1-21)

This text change proposes amending the existing Outdoor Amenity Area regulations in Section 1.5.3. of the UDO. Read the full draft ordinance

Background

Outdoor amenity areas are intended to provide usable on-site open space in both residential and non-residential developments for the healthy enjoyment of occupants and guests of a development. These areas are required when mixed-use, general, civic or multi-unit residential buildings are proposed. The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) sets forth standards for required amenity areas in all districts, as well as additional standards for amenity areas in mixed-use districts, particularly in the Downtown Mixed-Use district (DX-) (UDO Chapter 3). During the site review process, common issues arise for developments in Downtown that produce poor outcomes for outdoor amenity areas and slow down the review process. Staff has identified five problem areas and recommends solutions for each which are described below. 

Covered Outdoor Amenity Area:

Covered outdoor space is a common architectural and urban design approach that serves to provide comfort from climate and weather conditions, as well act as a transitional space between a building’s interior and exterior edges. To create a comfortable, year-round public realm, it is good practice to provide shade and cover in downtown and other mixed-use areas. However, DX- is the only district that does not allow outdoor amenity areas to be covered. This is an impediment to many projects and this text change proposes to allow amenity areas to be covered in the DX-.

Streetscape and Outdoor Amenity Area Overlap:

While the UDO does not explicitly prohibit using sidewalk area on private property to fulfill both the streetscape requirement and outdoor amenity area, current practice is that amenity area may only be counted once the streetscape width is entirety satisfied, regardless of where the property line lies. This can produce non-compliance with the build-to requirement. This text change proposes to allow these areas to overlap.

Outdoor Amenity Areas on Upper floors:

Outdoor amenity areas are intended to provide open space to building occupants or residents and are not required to be open to the public. Only in DX- and other mixed-use districts – where land is generally more expensive and where buildings are bulkier and occupy a large portion of the site – are outdoor amenity areas not permitted on upper floors and are required to be contiguous with the

public sidewalk. This text change proposes expanding the upper floor allowance to all building types with the requirement that any amenity area associated with a new building be accessible by elevator and/or accessible ramp.

GSI in Amenity Areas

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is an increasingly standard practice that provides sustainable stormwater management solutions, cooling of the urban environment, microhabitat and creates visual interest in the urban realm. Currently, GSI may take up only 10% of a site’s outdoor amenity area. As GSI can be an attractive amenity and should be encouraged, especially in areas of high intensity use, the UDO should allow for more application of it and this text change proposes to remove the 10% cap on how much of an Outdoor Amenity Area may be devoted to GSI.

Amenity Area and Adverse Impacts

In DX- districts, buildings are often directly contiguous to one another, with little or no separation. The resulting “street wall” helps to provide comfort and safety for pedestrians and helps to define spaces. Street walls are a fundamental component of good urban design. Current UDO standards for amenity area sometimes create conflicts with the goal of creating uninterrupted street walls, as they encourage amenity area provision to the side of buildings or in front of a recessed building – in either case interrupting the street wall. This text change proposes to remove or reduce the outdoor amenity area requirement when certain conditions are present.

Public Meeting Schedule:

This text change is scheduled for the Planning Commission meeting on April 14. The Commission may act on that date or refer to their Text Change Committee for further discussion. We will be collecting comments here through April 11. Comments after this date should be submitted directly to Eric Hodge via email

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