Council OKs Mayfield housing

Last major approval is for architecture and landscaping, demolition begins in November

With the quick approval of a final architectural design at Tuesday's City Council meeting, work may begin soon on a 260-unit housing development at 100 Mayfield Ave.

With Tuesday's approval, William Lyons Homes is expected to close escrow on the property in October. Demolition is set to begin in November and could take eight months, beginning with two months of asbestos and tree removal. To be demolished is a 520,000-square-foot commercial building, once home to the region's first indoor mall and later converted to offices used by Hewlett Packard.

The five council members who were present voted unanimously to approve the planned community permits for the project. Along with council members John Inks and Ronit Bryant, City Manager Daniel Rich left the dais, saying that stock he owns presented a "potential" conflict of interest. He recused himself a second time later in the evening when the council voted on a new ordinance for cell antennas requested by AT&T.

Like a few previous council meetings on Mayfield, the former neighborhood opposition and the developer were full of praise for everyone involved. No critical words were spoken, a stark contrast to meetings several years ago at which dozens of angry neighbors turned out to harshly criticize the project.

"We've learned a way to work with developers which is mutually supportive" said Wouter Suverkropp, Monta Loma Neighborhood Association president. He said he was giving his personal opinion and did not have an approved statement from his board.

A project which once included numerous four- and five-story condo buildings for a total of 436 units is now no taller than three stories throughout the project, with traditional looking two-story single-family homes around the perimeter of the site to provide a buffer to the surrounding neighborhood. The condos have a modern, squared-off look with red, white, brown and blue paint colors.

The project includes new park space amounting to 3.62 acres in two parks. Neighbors who have complained about a lack of park space in their neighborhood will have access to the parks through a public pedestrian promenade.

A new pedestrian tunnel under Central Expressway to the San Antonio train station, costing as much as $6 million, will also be paid for by the developer, along with a "prepayment" of maintenance funds for the tunnel, according to a city staff report.

"To have (neighbors) come forward to say they are happy with the project means a lot," said Mayor Jac Siegel, who strongly opposed iterations of the higher-density project created several years ago by another developer.

A deal was made between Hewlett Packard and developers Summit Land Partners and William Lyon Homes after another developer, Toll Brothers, could not negotiate a deal to purchase the property after spending several years obtaining approval of the 436-unit version of the project. The new developers decided not to build the larger project, and their smaller proposal was welcomed by neighbors.

If homes sell for an average of $913,000, the city will receive an estimated $7 million in below market rate housing fees paid by the developer, money which is used to subsidize affordable housing in the city. Property tax revenue for the city would increase by $154,000 to $377,000 for the entire 27-acre property, which would be valued at an estimated $236 million once built.

The council also approved a permit to remove 163 heritage trees. Another 76 coast redwoods will be removed and replanted, including 21 redwoods that would have required a larger retaining wall at the edge of one of the parks under the original Toll Brothers plan. The trees will be removed and replanted once the soil is lowered to the same height as the rest of the landscape. Hundreds of smaller trees will be removed and replaced by a larger number of new trees.

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3 people like this
Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm

It will be good to have a living neighborhood there instead of the empty and ghostly office occupying the site now. The new units will be very livable too; within walking distance to San Antonio Shopping Center and to the Caltrain station.

3 people like this
Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I'm glad to see the new parkland, the copious tree planting, and the pedestrian tunnel under Central Expressway. These are all welcome additions.

But this is a significant missed opportunity to make better use of this land. A huge, prime parcel, directly across from a Caltrain station, and the best we can do is 3-story residences? The reduced unit count (half of the original proposal) and the very high end orientation (large units at $900k+ a pop) mean this will generate very few transit riders. So we had a great chance to generate new riders for Caltrain and give a lot more people the option to live a more sustainable lifestyle (relying on transit and walking for many of their trips) and we've missed the boat.

When a project is approved and all you've got is patting on the back and smiles by the NIMBY neighbors, you know the greater good has been sacrificed.

3 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Martin: Great, I can't wait until you move in since you seem to like it so much.

OMV Resident: If you want the density of Manhatten, why are you still complaining and living in Old Mountain View full of single family homes with good size lots?

I'm all for the NIMBY attitude, since it's much easier to tell other people how they should live.

3 people like this
Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm

@Observer --

I like that you've fallen into the two of the most common false arguments in this debate, in one short post.

The first is the 'If you want density like Manhattan/San Francisco/fill-in-the-blank city, why don't you live there?' The MIRNA NIMBYs loved to use this to claim that the 2 to 4-story Minton's project was going to 'block out the sun' of the neighborhood. The hyperbole here is unbelievable. There's a huge gap between what was approved on this site (3 stories) and Manhattan and SF (20, 30 or 50-story buildings in places). I would have liked to see more 4 to 5 story buildings (as originally proposed) and perhaps even some 6 to 8 story buildings along Central. A much more efficient use of the site, far more sustainable in terms of carbon footprint, and still NOTHING like Manhattan.

The second fallacy is to characterize Old Mountain View as being full of single-family homes with large lots. Yes, that's the largest land use by acreage, but there are easily as many residents in apartments and condominiums in OMV as single-family homes. And I live in one of them. I chose OMV because of the proximity to the train, the walkability, and the proximity to Castro Street. I feel fortunate that there were enough non-NIMBYs in around 1965 to permit the apartment building that I live in to be built amongst the single-family homes. It's just a shame that more people aren't able to live the sustainable OMV lifestyle, because the NIMBYs are so loud and effective at shouting down development above 2 or 3 stories.

3 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2011 at 6:34 am

Well, I'm glad you feel fortunate living the way you want with your vision of how it should be, but you are arguing for hypothetical residents that don't live here by calling actual resident that do live here NIMBYs. The approved project listened to the voice of residents and constituents and not the pipe dream of people, er, well, you know, who just know better and want to tell every one else how they ought to be living.

3 people like this
Posted by Litsa
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Eeesh. There goes the Monta Loma neighborhood charm.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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