The City Council approved a retail and housing project for 1616 El Camino Real on Tuesday that could be an example of what to expect as El Camino Real redevelops.
The four-story mix of 28 stacked condos above 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail will go up along El Camino Real and part of Mariposa Avenue. Heights taper down towards neighbors with a half dozen two-story town-homes at the rear of the project.
"We're going to see El Camino Real transformed significantly in the next couple of years," said Mayor Mike Kasperzak. This project and others are "good for El Camino Real and are really the beginning of the Grand Boulevard."
City planners said in a staff report that the closeness of the building to the street with parking in the rear helped it comply with the "Grand Boulevard" vision for El Camino Real.
Next door, 173 apartments have been proposed to replace Western Appliance and the Tropicana Hotel.
Council members Jac Siegel and Laura Macias criticized the design while Kasperzak and Ronit Bryant praised it. Siegel called it "unimaginative" and creating "a wall" on El Camino Real.
"Taken as one block it seems very compact," Macias said. "There's no place to go in terms of folks living here. Thank goodness there's a park close by."
"I actually think this looks very good," Bryant said. "Aggregating properties and stepping it down to the neighborhood is a very good example. It is enormously nicer than the unloved building that is there. I'd much rather look at this."
Responding to Macias' comments, Bryant said, "If we want open space we are going to have to incentivize the developer to give us that space."
The site is home to the old Austin's restaurant, a nail salon and a vacant retail space, and was once proposed to be a KFC drive-through which the neighborhood opposed and the city rejected. Neighbors did not oppose this project. Neighbors said it was "a great improvement over the previously proposed fast food establishment," according to developer, Stan Gamble of Mingstan Development.
With an average price of $675,000, the units will come in one, two and three-bedroom models ranging in size from 950 to 1,700 square feet.
A large oak tree on the site will be moved to accommodate the underground parking garage, while a large olive tree was found to be in too poor of condition to justify the same treatment.