Mountain View Voice

News - July 2, 2010

La Costena building to be redeveloped

Popular burrito joints won't be kicked out, owner says

by Daniel DeBolt

Building owner Charles Gardyn says he doesn't have to kick out two popular burrito joints in order to make redevelopment of his landmark building feasible.

A major revamp is in the works for the home of Taqueria La Bamba and La Costena, both of which have held the title of "Best Burrito in Mountain View." Gardyn, the owner of the 1940s building at the corner of Old Middlefield Way and Rengstorff Avenue, says all of his tenants may return after construction of a proposed building, which features housing — possibly government-subsidized affordable housing — above a first floor of retail.

The City Council approved a "gatekeeper request" for the project Tuesday, which allows the project to go through the city planning process before final approval by the council.

While many building owners might want to bring in some chain stores to pay higher rents in such a development, Gardyn said Tuesday "I don't need to do that and I don't want to do that. I think the project is viable with existing rents."

Gardyn has partnered with ROEM Development Corporation to build the project. ROEM was selected by the City Council to build the affordable family housing development recently approved for Evelyn and Franklin Streets, and there is a possibility ROEM will develop affordable housing on Gardyn's site as well.

An underground parking garage may allow the proposed building take up a larger portion of the .83 acre lot. But the underground garage faces some difficulties with FEMA, which the developer believes can be overcome, as the site is located in a flood plain area.

For several years the city's has been pressuring Gardyn to tear the corner building down, citing numerous code violations and illegal structures.

Gardyn has been regularly attending general plan meetings to prepare for the project, which requires a rezoning. Old Middlefield Way is currently zoned for industrial uses, such as auto shops and supply houses, but an exception may be made for Gardyn's corner property, which has only been allowed to have its retail tenants by way of conditional permits.

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