We met with the Design Review Committee in Belfast yesterday. Every project downtown needs to go in front of this committee for any changes to the exterior of a building., Their pronouncements are now mandatory.
Greg has put a lot of man hours into the plans for Slum and Blight. He went above and beyond with his renderings for this In-town Design Review Committee, commonly known as "the pretty police" here in these parts. Last week, we submitted something like 13 pages of information for the board to review, though they didn't get the materials until they walked into the meeting yesterday.
Needless to say, we were nervous going into the meeting.
Greg gave an excellent presentation of his renderings, which was deemed by one board member as 100 times better than anything they had seen thus far.
We thought that they would call into question the dormer size and shape on the upper floors, or the basement space that we plan to build out. I thought they would hate the fact that we are planning to use cement fiber clapboards and a metal roof.
None of that got more than a passing reference.
What did cause our meeting to go for almost an hour was the fact that one board member was offended by the color we chose. Several others agreed in principle that they thought the colors, an elegant and tasteful, in my opinion, and simple choice of yellow and white, wouldn't fit the character of downtown Belfast. It was suggested to us that the building should blend in more into the downtown area, which is full of brick and granite row buildings. Our color scheme was deemed too residential, which was compounded by the rendering of the doors on the second floor and the basement level, which look like residential doors and not mercantile doors.
It was explained to us that we didn't understand the feeling and character of downtown Belfast.
Instead of taking all this as a good sign that they didn't object to the big stuff, I got my back up a bit and tried to make the point that the building was not like other buildings downtown and was actually built as a hotel and not as a mercantile building. I tried to stress the uniqueness of it's cottage-style architecture, but was told repeatedly that Belfast was not Bayside and that the building should be painted to blend in. People expected the building to be darker.
I tried to make the point that since we wanted to draw people to our building, we wanted it to stand out rather than blend in. I mistakenly used the term that I wanted the building to be a beacon for lower main street. I think that made everyone nervous.
We probably could have ended the meeting had I just kept my mouth shut. I am actually quite open to exploring different color schemes, but I didn't want to roll over so easily and kept trying to make some points or get some concessions. But when the one board member told me that they couldn't be swayed in their opinion, no matter what point I made, I decided to shut my trap and let the meeting go forward, at which point the facilitator told the board that they couldn't tell us to change the color....but could only vote for us to consider other color schemes that would fit more with the downtown vibe.
In the end it was voted that we are required to consider other color schemes. And new doors!