Wed08202014

News

Hurdle remains for project on Third Street

A downtown mixed-use project looks to be one step away from final approval by the city.

The Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) Aug. 15 unanimously approved six of seven outstanding conditions for developer David Luedtke’s three-story condominium and office space project at 86 Third St.

The move comes after the Los Altos City Council unanimously voted in May to send the project back to the PTC for further review and approval, citing concerns that included the building’s parking management and below-market-rate (BMR) units. Prior to the council’s May review, the PTC in April recommended approval of the project – which calls for 20 condos and 5,500 square feet of first-floor office space.

Reached by the Town Crier, Los Altos Senior Planner Zach Dahl said the remaining hurdle is the building’s exterior look, noting that some PTC members weren’t “comfortable” with the materials proposed for the commercial side of the building.

“They basically requested a different material than the (scraped) limestone for that side of the building,” said Dahl, who added that Luedtke’s team is reviewing the use of other materials and is tentatively slated to return to the PTC in October.

Exterior aesthetics aside, the project met six other specific conditions outlined by the council – including a request to upgrade one two-bedroom BMR unit into a three-bedroom dwelling.

“I think they get great kudos for the affordable housing. … They went above and beyond in a way that’s extraordinary,” Commissioner Phoebe Bressack said, noting the building’s BMR offerings of a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit and a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on the building’s ground floor.

In addition, the PTC approved a parking management plan that includes opening the building’s underground parking garage during business hours to those patronizing its offices. Other approved conditions included a plan to prewire 11 underground parking spaces for the future installation of electric-vehicle charging stations and a master sign program for the building.

Although the project remains in the city approval pipeline, Dahl said Luedtke has remained patient and willing to make adjustments throughout the process.

“He’s been very receptive to the changes,” Dahl said of the developer.

Prior to casting his vote in favor of the six conditions – as well as a separate vote in favor of continuing the PTC’s exterior materials review – Commissioner Jon Baer noted that he and his colleagues aimed to create the best project possible for the city and the developer.

“When you’re a chef and you make something bad, you eat your mistakes,” Baer said. “But when you build a building that doesn’t work, there’s not much you can do about it.”

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