With accolades ringing in their ears, the Williams-Sonoma design team ended a successful visit to the Sonoma Design Review and Historic Preservation Commission Tuesday, one step closer to creating their tribute store for 98-year-old Chuck Williams.
This time, the review was for an awning, fountain, outdoor fireplace and property landscaping, transforming what is now a weed-filled vacant lot on First Street West into what was characterized as “casual, Sonoma elegance.”
“The project exceeds all my expectations for design and materials,” said Commissioner Robert McDonnell. “There’s nothing to add.”
The conversion of three commercial spaces in front of a vintage house at 599 Broadway, into a small store, culinary school and cafe, was previously approved by the Planning Commission. Also approved were architectural details, colors, and materials.
Jeff George, landscape architect, presented plans for the rear of the property, which goes all the way back to the street. It included permeable pavers and pear trees for the parking lot, a gated entrance to the rear yard, featuring recycled timber for fencing, a garden space with raised vegetable beds, a stone fireplace and a 16-foot-long fountain along with a small potting area and mulch space. There will also be several trees and shrubs, grasses, vines, espaliers and ground covers.
In front of the building, which is where Williams-Sonoma had its start, there will be an arbor and sidewalks that match materials on both sides of the property. Existing oleanders that screen the post office will be retained, as will street trees.
“The black and white striped awning is a replica of what was on the store originally,” said Bud Cope, senior vice president of Williams-Sonoma.
Chuck Williams purchased the property in 1953, taking over the Ralph Morse Hardware Store while he lived in the house in the back. It wasn’t until 1956 that he opened his first Williams-Sonoma store, featuring culinary items in one of the spaces he had created from the original property. Two years later, success drove him to San Francisco to a more prominent location.
In other business, the owner of Dutch Bros. Coffee, which has purchased Hot Shots at 711 Broadway, fared well, but had to downsize his request for 16 signs – large and small – that exceeded overall square footage of signs allowed. Color schemes also were modified and some signs will be removed.
“Signage for a drive-through is very challenging because our business is outside,” said Robert Fulton. “We’re proposing less square footage than is already there.”
But he agreed to all the reductions and modifications.
Both Johanna Patri, a neighbor, and Mary Martinez, questioned the compatibility of some of the signs with the historic nature of the Broadway corridor. “I don’t think we want to see much pizzazz on the outdoor menu next to a historical building,” said Patri.
In other business, Roche Winery’s four outdoor gaslights were approved, as was a new ATM for Redwood Credit Union in its new location (where Blockbuster was). Quarryhill Botanical Gardens’ banners were allowed for the Plaza poles.