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Morris’ plans for Main and First streets meet early examinations


Photo By: Courtesy of Jeffrey A. Morris
Photo Courtesy Of Jeffrey A. Morris

Jeffrey A. Morris’ proposed mixed-use development at Main and First streets is scheduled for review May 17.

Highly anticipated plans for a retail-office complex at Main and First streets in downtown Los Altos are scheduled to begin their journey through the city’s approval process.

Developer Jeffrey A. Morris, who has a lease-purchase agreement with the city for the 0.78-acre property at 400 Main St., is proposing a pair of two-story buildings totaling 32,318 square feet for the site. The project is slated for review May 17 at the Architecture and Site Review Committee meeting.

Morris said he chose the downtown location for a variety of reasons.

“You have a great downtown going through a transformation here,” he said, pointing to upcoming projects such as rebuilding the Safeway store. “It has a chance to be very successful.”

The proposed buildings feature first-floor retail space with 14-foot glass storefronts and office space on the second floor. Plans include connecting the buildings at the second floor with an enclosed walkway.

The proposed height of each building is 29 feet, with two towers rising to approximately 44 feet. A courtyard planned between buildings would provide possible outdoor dining access.

Morris, who declined to speculate on potential retailers, said he planned to recruit high-end businesses to the property. He said his plans are the culmination of nearly three years of designs that included more than 20 different site plans.

“The plans fully comply with all city requirements,” Morris said.

Building plans call for 134 parking spaces, including 90 underground spots, as well as a three-lane access easement off First Street shared with neighboring Safeway.

Morris’ design drew strong support two weeks ago from the boards of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and the downtown Los Altos Village Association.

“Very positive,” said chamber President Julie Rose of her board’s response. “It was a unanimous vote to support the project as-is. He’s been working with the (city) staff for months. It meets all the requirements of the city. We say, ‘Move ahead.’”

Meanwhile, a grassroots downtown revitalization support group, Los Altos Forward, held a “Community Conversations” event last week focused on the Main-and-First plans.

Architect and featured speaker Bill Maston said gateway properties in general should be architecturally stimulating, provide space for public gatherings and uplift the fortunes of surrounding businesses. Showcasing a schematic of the Morris plan, Maston asked attendees to consider whether the plan met these objectives.

Morris said he expects to break ground on the project within the first quarter of 2013 if the city’s approval process goes smoothly. The project, he added, is expected to require approximately 15 months to complete.

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