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Council approves mixed-use project at Garden Supply site on El Camino Real

More development is coming to Los Altos after the city council June 26 unanimously approved a mixed-use residential and retail project for 4750 El Camino Real.

The council’s approval ends an 18-month process for the joint effort by Lennar Homes and the Sares Regis Group that calls for the redevelopment of several sites, including Los Altos Garden Supply, Marie Callender’s Restaurant and Bakery and two single-family residential properties.

The nearly 5-acre site will feature 17,260 square feet of retail space fronting El Camino Real, including the existing 5,000 square-foot Vitamin Shoppe at 475 El Camino, a 167-unit apartment development named The Colonnade and 38 townhomes set at the back of the project.

Mayor Val Carpenter told the Town Crier that the project would benefit the city on several fronts, including helping to meet Los Altos’ housing goals. The project includes 21 affordable housing units. Per city ordinance, new housing projects with 10 or more units must set aside at least 10 percent of them as moderate-income residences.

Carpenter added that the project received approval because it met the city’s Commercial Thoroughfare zoning codes, pointing to the project’s 319 parking spaces and 45-foot height among other city requirements. She credited the developers for their efforts to address the concerns of nearby neighbors and businesses.

“It was gratifying to have the project go through the way it did,” Carpenter said, noting the Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation to approve the project in May. “Here’s an example of how the process really works when you have professional developers.”

The Los Altos Towne House Association, which represents the Los Altos Square property next to the proposed development site, also supported the project. In a letter to the council, association board member Jim Colby said the development “will improve the existing site tremendously as well as represent a major investment of capital into the Sherwood Gateway area.”

According to a fiscal impact analysis contained in the city staff report, the project is expected to boost city coffers. Net revenue is estimated to increase by approximately $40,000 “with an established property tax base,” the report noted. In addition, the city projects an overall increase of 20 percent from “historic revenue to the city from the property.”

Carpenter noted that there are several one-time developer fees, including approximately $700,000 to local schools and park in-lieu and traffic impact fees totaling $4.3 million. According to city staff, the project should also generate approximately $159,000 in annual benefits to city schools through the additional property tax allocations.

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