In a development that is slated to be larger than Mayfield -- but probably without as much controversy -- 38 acres of industrial land could be converted to a mix of single family homes, row homes and higher density condos along Ferguson Drive. Tonight the City Council will decide whether to allow zoning for the development.
The Environmental Planning Commission already has backed the plans for up to 1,120 homes just north of Whisman Station. The project would be built in two phases. Developer Regis Homes is moving forward with the first phase, which would develop up to 896 homes on 28.5 acres, while the remaining 9.5 acres are still in use by washing machine company Autochlor and Cisco server farm division Webex.
Drew Hudacek of Regis Homes said his company would develop only 55 to 65 percent of the density it would be allowed to, translating to 492 to 582 units on 28.5 acres.
Preliminary plans for the project include a 2.6-acre centrally located park and a grid-like street pattern. Housing densities start small to the south and taper upwards away from Whisman Station.
The City Council also will vote on an Environmental Impact Report for the project, which says that impacts to traffic on nearby portions of the 101 and 237 freeways are "significant and unavoidable." The resulting impacts to air quality from the development are "cumulatively considerable," the report says
The council will have to adopt a "statement of overriding considerations" to move the project forward. The statement points out the importance of new housing near jobs and transit, park space and a mix of housing in order to meet different needs.
"We think the plan is a great plan," Hudacek said. "We are excited it's near the VTA light rail station" at Whisman Station. "Creating more housing near [the city's job base is certainly the best thing we can do towards sustainability."
Though the development is just north of the former GTE plant that dumped toxics into the ground below Whisman Station, tests of the groundwater at the site found levels of volatile organic compounds "below screening levels." Nevertheless, the homes are required to have gas-impermeable membranes built into their foundations to prevent toxic vapor intrusion, and construction workers will be required to follow a host of safety precautions to prevent exposure to toxics in the soil.
The zoning would also allow up to 37,000 square feet of commercial space, such as a grocery store along Ferguson drive. A coffee shop inside the development is a possibility, Hudacek said. Regis Homes will be required to build at least 17,000 square feet of commercial space in the first phase.
Over a year ago, an economic feasibility study reported that a grocery store or other retail business wouldn't work in the development, even though neighbors wanted one. However, the planned development of several higher density office buildings north of the development has made the idea more feasible, said council member Jac Siegel.
The development was first proposed in 2005 by several property owners who had trouble leasing their industrial buildings for years. It initially included the 12-acre Francia orchard, which was later dropped from the project.
"We're now four years into this process," Hudacek said. "It will be at least another year or probably two before we can even start constriction."