A June 10 Santa Clara Planning Commission meeting grew tense during discussions regarding a proposed change to the Gateway Crossings project construction schedule.
The fully approvedis slated to build 1,600 residences, 15,000 square feet of retail, a 225-room hotel and a 2.1-acre park at 1205 Coleman Ave. Developer Hunter Storm requested an amendment to the development agreement allowing them to build the hotel portion in Phase 2 instead of in Phase 1. The rationale for the change is that the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily upended the hospitality industry.
“Unfortunately, here locally we have not been immune to the effect of COVID in the hospitality and travel industry,” said Josh Rupert, Director of Development, Hunter Storm. “In some regards we’ve actually been feeling it much worse.”
Rupert cited data stating that nationally since June 3, six out of 10 hotel rooms have been empty, thousands are closed causing 7.7 million related job losses and $31 billion lost since February. For Santa Clara County, Rupert said that hotel occupancy is expected to be down by 37.8 percent over the next four quarters and not get back to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.
Commissioner Suds Jain expressed confidence that the industry will experience a faster recovery due to signs of increased economic activity and efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine against COVID-19 but stated concerns about potential lost revenue for the financially struggling City if the hotel is delayed while also affecting job creation. He suggested that the developer boost the amount of affordable housing in the project from 10 to 15 percent, which was reiterated by Chair Anthony Becker.
Several members of the public spoke in support of the developer’s request citing the unexpected changes brought on by the pandemic as warranting the decision to delay construction of the hotel. A few disagreed with the move to change the development agreement over a situation that’s been deemed temporary. The amendment to delay the hotel was ultimately approved by the Commission.
A new restaurant that will be opening at 1998 Homestead Road applied for a use permit to serve alcohol. The establishment, which specializes in Filipino cuisine currently operates in other Bay Area cities and plans to start off just serving breakfast and lunch in Santa Clara.
Commissioners expressed excitement over the prospect of a new restaurant opening in the City but a few were concerned that the parking supply at the multi-tenant building may be inadequate. Planning staff said that the amount of parking was deemed sufficient based on parking requirements in place for restaurant uses. The Commission approved the alcohol permit request and will also allow the restaurant to extend hours of operation until 9 p.m. so that dinner service can be added in the future.
A topic continued from a prior meeting, the Planning Commission approved an amendment for a variance for 1560 and 1582 Jackson Street. The decision overturned a restriction put in place in 1977 that disallowed modifications made to the property that had been combined into a single lot. The amendment now allows the owners of the two single families homes to build accessory dwelling units.
Commissioners decided that a proposed fiscal year 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 Biennial Capital Improvement Program Budget was in conformity with the City’s 2010-2035 General Plan. The budget covers 36 new projects including a placemaking study to be conducted on the Mission Library Gazebo, a substation to power a new data center and a new Hetch Hetchy trail.
A special Planning Commission meeting covering “The Cost of Development” during the COVID-19 pandemic will be held on Monday, June 15. The next regularly scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, July 15.