Q&A WITH DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, ERIC CHAN
If anybody understands how Mill District has evolved over time, it’s Eric Chan. Eric is the project’s director of development, and he has worked closely with our friends at Olson Kundig on the architecture and design of the project from the very beginning. Newsletter writer Matt Villano recently caught up with Eric to discuss the project vision and the first phase of development. What follows is an edited transcript of their conversation.
We’re lucky to work with Olson Kundig on the project architecture. How would you describe the design aesthetic?
Working with Olson Kundig, you know the design aesthetic is going to be second to none. Their approach is very comprehensive in terms of the integration of all the architectural, interior design and landscape elements. The design is sophisticated and elegant but also is grounded in our location and the history of the site. It looks to the future with a nod to the past. Olson Kundig is renowned for its seamless integration of outdoor and indoor living spaces, which is so important in Healdsburg. From what we’ve seen, with walls and windows that open and slide away, it will be difficult to tell whether you’re inside or outside.
Why is Olson Kundig such a big deal?
The firm is consistently recognized as one of the top architecture firms in the United States, and it has that unique aesthetic. At this moment the company has projects happening around the world and its work on an international scale brings perspective and knowledge.
How has the project vision evolved over the years?
We’ve been designing the site over the last few years but our guiding principles have not changed. We value the importance of landscape to make Mill District feel like a neighborhood in a 10-acre garden. We are excited to incorporate architecture that is varied and recognizes the importance of outdoor as much as the indoor spaces. Overall, our vision is to create a natural extension of downtown Healdsburg.
Talk about the park, the centerpiece of the first part of the site to be developed.
We see the park as a key ingredient to the town of Healdsburg. It’s home to 15 heritage redwood trees that are very unique in a downtown core. When you look at those trees, you’re instantly intrigued. Old-growth redwoods on the site of an old lumber mill grab your attention. These trees will provide shade and privacy to our first offering of residences.
What are the first residences going to be like?
Our first phase of residences will front the park and the redwood trees. They will be some of the best at Mill District, with views of the park or Fitch Mountain or both. Each residence will have a private outdoor space. At the end of the day, the design of our residences is meant to celebrate outdoor space.
When are the residences going to be available for purchase?
We plan to offer our residences to the general public in the fall of 2020. As you can imagine we have had several people reach out to us inquiring about buying a residence since we acquired the site five years ago. Those who have been following us and supporting us will have access to information first and will be provided the first opportunities to purchase. This is our way of thanking them for all of their support from the beginning and along the way.