A developer is looking to turn a vacant lot on Middlefield Road into high-density condos, adding to the growing number of housing proposals for the recently rezoned East Whisman area of Mountain View.
The project, located at 282 E. Middlefield Road, proposes building 91 for-sale condos on just over an acre of land near the N. Whisman Road intersection. With building heights in excess of 62 feet, the proposal would stand tall above the neighboring single-family homes, ratcheting up density in an area considered ripe for redevelopment.
It's exactly the kind of housing that city officials have been looking for, said Kevin DeNardi of the DeNardi Group, which submitted the application in May. It provides ownership condos in an area that's been flagged for housing growth, with a targeted sale price below $1 million. With nearby townhouses hitting $1.8 million and single-family homes approaching $3 million, he said it's important to fill a niche for more affordable options.
"This allows first-time home buyers a better price point to buy in at, and we feel strongly about that," DeNardi said.
Unlike other for-sale housing developments that pay the city a housing fee in lieu of building affordable units, DeNardi said the proposal includes 14 condos that will be sold at below-market rates.
Though historically an office-heavy, industrial area of the city, East Whisman has been rezoned to allow up to 5,000 new housing units to transform into a dense, mixed-use neighborhood reliant on public transit and walkability. Other housing proposals for the area include 400 Logue and Google's massive Middlefield Park project.
What sets the latest condo development apart is that it won't be located in the highest-density core of East Whisman, but on the western fringe of East Whimsan in an area that's been dubbed the "village center." Focused on neighborhood retail for the future East Whisman neighborhood, the village center does allow for between 50 and 200 homes, which the DeNardi project would largely fill.
But the village center is meant for lower densities and conflicts with what the developer is seeking. The development would reach just under of 63 feet tall -- higher than the 50-foot height limit -- and would more than double the square footage allowed under the zoning for the property. It would also have 101 parking spaces, less than the 142 required by the city.
DeNardi said the plan is to use California's State Density Bonus Law to increase the number of condos that would normally be allowed under the city's plans. The same developer previously used that law to crank up density for a similar project on Gamel Way.
As it stands, DeNardi said city planning staff are still at odds with them over whether the density bonus is allowed. State law tends to calculate density by the number of units per acre, while the city is focused more on square footage. The proposal is to build 122,000 square feet of housing in a location where 50,000 is allowed under city zoning rules -- a massive increase, but still eligible for a waiver under state law, DeNardi said.
DeNardi said it comes down to a "difference of opinion," and that the project is slated to come before the City Council for a public hearing on Nov. 16.
City staff did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the status of the development application.
Under the city's zoning for East Whisman, office development cannot proceed without a commensurate increase in housing, roughly translating to 3 housing units for every 1,000 square feet of offices. The hope is that residential developers will team up with office developers to preserve that balance and even provide incentives for housing to be built. DeNardi said he has yet to discuss a partnership with any officer developers, but that might change once the project is approved.
And while some housing proposals in East Whisman have collapsed due to the high cost of new construction, DeNardi said he believes that the Middlefield Road condo project can make it to the finish line.
"We are confident and we want to move forward," he said. "We want to add to the housing inventory in East Whisman as well as the inventory of for-sale condos."