Fri10242014

News

Council seeks changes to Third Street development


Photo By: Rendering Courtesy of City of Los Altos
Photo Rendering Courtesy Of City Of Los Altos

The proposal for a mixed-use development at 86 Third St. in Los Altos is headed back to the Planning and Transportation Commission for additional revisions.

Developer David Luedtke’s proposal for a three-story condominium and office space development at 86 Third St. is headed back to a familiar place – the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC).

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimously to return the nearly 36-foot-tall project – which entails constructing 20 condominiums and 5,500 square feet of first-floor office space – to the PTC for further refinement. A few councilmembers cited concerns with the building’s parking management plan and its below-market-rate (BMR) unit offerings, among other items.

In rendering its 5-0 vote, the council opted to give the PTC final approval on the project, provided that some specific outlined changes were incorporated.

The council’s decision comes after the PTC originally approved the project by a 4-2 vote in early April.

The cited items most in need of change include parking management, which currently calls for a gated underground 52-space parking garage and seven additional street-level spaces adjacent to Parking Plaza 8. Some councilmembers, including Megan Satterlee, sought a more defined plan to accommodate residential, employee and customer parking onsite only.

“This particular building – its location lends itself to (have parking) spill over to the plaza, and that’s not advantageous to the city since it’s supposed to be a self-parked building,” Satterlee said.

Councilmembers offered suggestions such as the use of a key-code system for the underground parking area or simply leaving the garage open for access during daytime hours for customers and employees.

Below-market-rate units

Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw was among those who sought the inclusion of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom BMR unit and a two-bedroom, one-bathroom BMR unit.

Luedtke and his group of project investors initially offered the inclusion of one two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit and the aforementioned two-and-one unit.

Fishpaw noted that offering a three-bedroom condo would provide a better option for lower-income families seeking a home.

“(Even) if it is a small three-bedroom unit, I think that still provides more possibilities for different-size families to occupy that unit,” he said.

Luedtke, however, countered that the council’s insistence on the larger offering would require some redesign of the project pending approval from its 30-plus investors first.

Luedtke said the change could result in a “$1-million swing” in terms of lost profit and would discourage future development of smaller mixed-use housing projects in the city.

“If you enforce the two- and three-bedroom (BMR units), you’re probably not going to get any condo projects in town anymore until they’re up to 32, 34 units (in overall size),” he said.

The council sought several changes to the mixed-use project in addition to the parking and BMR condo issues. The council denied Luedtke’s request to waive its 12-foot-high commercial-space ceiling requirement to allow for potential Class A office space. Instead, Luedtke offered an 11-foot ceiling height design.

“I think we need to have the ceiling heights there at 12 feet,” Councilwoman Jan Pepper said, “so that we preserve flexibility for the use of that space in the future.”

The council altered a condition of approval for the project to retain a 70-foot Canary Island Pine tree nestled between the city parking plaza and Luedtke’s property line.

Other changes recommended for the final project include the addition of pre-wiring to accommodate the installation of an electric-vehicle charging station in the future. The council also sought a re-examination by the PTC of some proposed exterior building materials.

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