Things may change a bit in the spin and churn of the development process.
But two weeks ago, Melina Lin, owner of the Heritage Building lot on East Main Street, submitted to the city of Auburn her plans to replace the now vanished-and-carted-away, two-story edifice.
As proposed today, the mixed-use building differs in a number of respects from what stood there through nearly 100 years of Auburn history before falling to smoke and ruin in the catastrophic fire of Dec. 26, 2017.
The most noticeable difference will be the structure’s height. Plans reveal a 6-story building, four stories higher than others on the block, the upper four dedicated to 66 units of apartments, and the lower two divided between street-level commercial and a second-story parking garage.
The Heritage Building, which opened in 1924, had no parking.
Also, the name on the plans is not “Heritage II,” or “Heritage the Sequel,” or any form thereof, but “The Divine.”
Lin was under the gun to submit her plans to the city by Jan. 31, 2019.
Jeff Tate, director of planning and community development for the city of Auburn, said Lin is “grandfathered” to build 36 apartments, as that is what the old Heritage Building carried, but because she is proposing an additional 30 units, building codes require her to provide parking for her tenants.
For nearly a year, a thin strip of canvas on the fence around the site feebly attempted to shield from the eye what remained post-demolition of the raw building detritus, including dozens of chunks of broken concrete.
That lingering mess had been the byproduct of a misunderstanding between how Lin and her first demolition contractor, Harbro Emergency Services, interpreted what she expected it to do by contract.
But as passersby may have noticed in recent days, all the stuff that made the site so awful ugly and dangerous is now history, and a much-more-eye-pleasing carpet of gravel covers the lot, courtesy of Rhine Demolition LLC of Tacoma, Lin’s second contractor.
“It’s near buttoned up. I mean, it looks pretty good, but we’re going to have to have a more permanent fence to place the wonky, chain-link fence that goes around the perimeter of the property today,” Tate said. “It will be a fence you can see through, so it doesn’t create a dangerous, dark spot. There are still a couple things that have to be fixed, like damage to a curb or sidewalk.”
On Dec. 26, 2017, fire broke out in the building’s laundry room. By the time the Valley Regional Fire Authority and other local fire agencies called in to help had extinguished the fire, the second floor of the historic building was gutted, and its occupants and all of the ground-floor businesses were homeless.
The occupants have since found new housing, and some of the businesses, like Top Nails, have set up shop elsewhere.