Employing bright facade colors is sometimes met with joy and other times with disdain. But rarely is it met with a lawsuit. The Marke, architect Christopher Coe’s red-gridded apartment complex in Santa Ana, is being sued by Orange County developer Lakeside Partners Hutton for violating aesthetic restrictions in its 46-acre Hutton Centre development.
According to the suit filed last month in Orange County Superior Court, Lyon Communities, the owners of the 300-unit Marke, “ignored the architectural committee’s request” to provide a new palette for the building by painting the facade “with the disproved red color.” Lyon submitted their plans to the committee “in or about 2013,” and said that the committee “approved four of the five proposed colors,” but they “rejected the fifth color.”
“The color is fine. It’s the amount of it that’s a problem,” Kenneth L. Perkins Jr., Lakeside Partners’ attorney told the Orange County Register. The committee had recommended a plan that “reduces the color and breaks up the red pattern so that it is not so linear.”
Coe told AN that Lakeside “didn’t have any major complaints” for him during the design and construction process, except for an employee expressing one concern at a meeting. After that, “we never heard another thing, neither approval nor disapproval,” said Coe.
“I find it a little weird,” added Coe. “Aside from property rights and freedom of expression, it seems terribly short-sighted that [Lakeside Partners] didn’t know that you can’t market an apartment building the way you market an office building.”
The four-story apartment building has a grayish blue and white base, over which Coe designed a composition of vertical and horizontal red lines. He estimated that repainting the building could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The 2.3 million-square-foot Hutton Park complex was constructed in the 1980s, and features office towers, a high-rise apartment, hotels, and a food court surrounding a four-acre lake.
Coe believes the matter will be settled by Lyon Communities and Lakeside Partners out of court, although he has not heard from either party. “I can’t imagine what the endgame could be,” said Coe.
Homeowners associations have sued property owners for not adhering to their standards, but rarely if ever has a building of this scale faced a similar lawsuit.