Thu09182014

News

Commission says try again


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The island at Loyola Corners, across from Tom’s Depot, is being considered for retail and condominium development.

A proposal for a three-story, mixed use project at Loyola Corners may be headed back to the drawing board.

During a Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) study session last week, some commissioners suggested that the proposed project’s plan – which calls for approximately 1,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and six condominiums at the former Photo Drive-up site – should be scrapped and redone because the bulky design doesn’t fit the area.

“I don’t think there’s a way to fix this design,” said Commissioner Ken Lorell, who noted that the project was “completely out of character” for Loyola Corners and suggested project applicant Gregg Bunker rethink his design.

According to a city staff report, the study session was scheduled to provide “early design input” for Bunker, who has owned the triangular property for more than 20 years.

Bunker presented the PTC with two alternative building designs to consider – including one that called for a 30-foot tall building with 9-foot wall plates.

A second design called for a 33-foot tall structure – 3 feet above the city’s height limit for the area – with a roof deck for tenants living in the building’s six condominium units on the second and third levels.

Bunker told the commission that the building would be “simply unique” with “all-glass” condo units located at the corners.

“I think it’ll be a delightful place for residents to live,” he said.

Bunker’s proposal includes 15 parking spaces – two short of the 17 required by city code. However, Bunker told the PTC that he would consider using parking lifts and vowed to exceed the amount of parking required by the city.

Still, the project drew criticism from a handful of neighbors who said both proposed building designs would be too large for the area. One Fremont Avenue resident told the PTC that the building’s look and size was “inconsistent” with the rest of the Loyola Corners area, while another neighborhood resident called the proposal “extreme.”

“It just feels to me like a lot of square footage for the lot size,” added a second Fremont Avenue resident.

Some PTC members agreed with the assessments offered by the residents in attendance. Commissioner Jon Baer said that the building was too big for the neighborhood and called on Bunker to “rethink the project from scratch.”

Commissioner Phoebe Bressack termed the volume of the structure “huge for the area,” adding that the designs appeared to try to fill “every possible square inch” of the property.

“If it wasn’t end-to-end-to-end-to-end everywhere, it would be better for the town,” she said.

Commissioner Jerry Moison, however, offered a different take on the project. He said adding setbacks on the small property site would make the building “look like a pencil.”

Moison added that the project was needed to help revitalize the area.

“I think Loyola Corners is in desperate need of something just like this,” he said.

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