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Publication Date: Friday, February 02, 2001

Transit plaza plans scrapped Transit plaza plans scrapped (February 02, 2001)

Council says no to 5,000-square-foot retail building

By Justin Scheck

At a Tuesday night meeting the Mountain View City Council voted down a 1999 plan to develop the Evelyn Street transit Plaza that would have included a 5,000-square-foot office building as part of the complex.

The building was slated to have office space for the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.

However, the council did vote to have city staff explore other building options for the site, provide utility connections for public restrooms, and research the option of bringing pushcart vendors to the site. The issue was decided by a vote of 6-1, with Mayor Mario Ambra voting in opposition.

At the meeting, council members expressed reservations about the 1999 plan, including the fact that the proposed building was a retail and office space removed from the train tracks, and was not a traditional train station.

"My sense was that the council was not interested in just building offices there," said Council Member Rosemary Stasek.

Council member Sally Lieber said that prior to Tuesday's meeting she was not aware that the plan with the Chamber of Commerce had dissolved. But, she added, she was pleased to see the council look at other design options, and would not object to seeing the chamber included in future plans.

"Because they provide gateway services, they would seem to be a logical tenant. I still think it's a worthwhile concept to have them there," Lieber added.

But, she said, "We want a historic-looking train station, so we're not going with the concept of building a 5,000-square-foot office building... I would like to see an old-fashioned station with a coffee bar in it where people can sit and watch the trains come and go."

Lieber explained that the city is set to receive a federal transportation grant topping $300,000. But this money is only available if building plans are finalized by this fall.

Lieber said she views the pushcarts as a temporary option, and hopes to see a "more stable, more permanent" retail option once the station is built.

The council Tuesday night was presented with three different site plans from the Mountain View architectural firm Hawley, Peterson and Snyder, which was contracted in February 2000 to formulate conceptual layouts for the site.

The three layouts each had a plan for a building, and one for a "future building," which would have land set aside on the site for a future development.

Council member Matt Pear said he favors the idea of creating a plaza without a building that would have space for future construction.

"What I was looking for is some sort of transit plaza with a pad set aside for a future development," said Pear. He explained that he is hesitant to approve any building before the city has an agreement with a tenant.

Council members agreed that the plaza should have restrooms, and discussed the option of self-cleaning modular units that can be leased from the Bay Area firm of JC Decaux.

However, Pear said the cost of the units could be prohibitive, and said he would want city staff to do more research into the issue.

During council discussions, Ambra said he had reservations about the lack of handicapped parking at the site, and was concerned about whether this put the city in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However, City Attorney Mike Martello said that, because there is no parking planned for the site, there is no requirement for handicapped parking.

Council member Mary Lou Zoglin, who was a member of the City Council Transit Plaza Ad Hoc Committee, said, "This is like any of the places downtown. You don't have parking right in front of your downtown shops. It's simply because this is a downtown location that this happened."

Pear also said he was concerned about the issue of handicapped parking, and added that he hopes, in the future, to have the city consider grade separation for the place where Caltrain tracks cross automobile thoroughfares. 


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