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City Desk: Oct. 21, 2015

City Desk

Two New Proposals for Apartments, Retail Development on El Camino

Two new development proposals for the El Camino Real – Summerhill Apartment Homes’ 2232-2240 El Camino, and Prometheus Real Estate Group’s 3501-3593 El Camino – debuted at the Santa Clara City Council’s Oct. 13 study session. The proposed four-story developments together would add about 850 new market-rate apartments.

Almost adjacent to Santa Clara Town Center, Summerhill’s 2.74-acre proposed development features a four-story structure with 150 apartments – 90 one- and 61 two-bedroom units – wrapping around an interior parking garage and pool area. A first-floor fitness room, clubroom and other common areas face onto El Camino.

Summerhill is prepared to pay the City $3.2 million in development fees in lieu of parkland dedication. The estimated $68.4 million in increased property tax valuation would bring an additional $144,000 to Santa Clara’s general fund, and an additional $460,000 to both Santa Clara Unified and Santa Clara County. Santa Clara Unified currently projects the development would add only three new students.

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Prometheus is proposing a mixed-use development at 3501-3593 El Camino – the 10.6-acre Lawrence Square Shopping Center diagonally across El Camino from Kohl’s plaza, known for its profusion of specialty Asian restaurants. In addition to 701 apartments, the proposal also includes 84,000 square feet of retail space facing El Camino – billed as a “new face of retail” – with two major anchor tenants. Prometheus also plans to create the initial parcel maps needed for possible future condominium conversion.

While the development will include extensive amenities – “for residents from toddlers to retirees,” as Prometheus’ spokesman put it – the developer will also pay a hefty $14 million in park fees.

Neither plan includes “affordable” units currently. But this was the first outing for both proposals, and given some Council members’ clearly-stated opinions on the need for affordable housing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some changes at the next review.

“We have all these [development] plans that are for one demographic,” said Council Member Teresa O’Neill. The demographic she referred to was 25 to 35 year-old childless tech industry professionals making the area’s median income of $96,000 or more.

“We’re practically on the verge of class and generation warfare,” she continued. “A lot of people are saying, “I have no place to live.” Smart growth is also about meeting the needs of the entire community, she said. Saying that she has heard “extremely pointed comments” about new housing construction,” she added, “It’s not fair or prudent to ignore” the large and growing percentage of residents who can’t afford today’s stratospheric rents, now averaging $2,500 for a one-bedroom apartment.

City Desk

New Soccer Field to be Built at Reed and Grant

At last week’s meeting, the Council also voted to begin design work on a new soccer field on a roughly nine-acre parcel on Reed St., owned by the City-owned electric utility, Silicon Valley Power. The money for the project has already been approved in the Santa Clara 2015 capital improvement budget.

While other locations for additional athletic fields continue to be considered, for the present a new soccer field at Montague Park isn’t in the cards. However, other improvements to that park are already underway. The tennis courts have been refurbished, and work continues on the playgrounds to bring them up to current standards.

Council Member Lisa Gillmor recommended moving the continuing discussion and responsibility for recommendations about athletic fields and other recreational needs to the Parks and Recreation Commission – “using that commission” instead of forming ad-hoc committees duplicating commission roles.

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