The building is slated for a LEED Gold rating, with solar panels on the roof of a parking garage, electric car charging stations, free transit passes for employees, patio seating and glass and stone building materials. Approximately 13 of the 51 trees on site will be removed.
The approval is a relief to Santa Cara County officials, who have been trying to sell the building since it became vacant in 2008.
To help the developer secure bank funding, the council narrowly approved a development agreement to allow the project's permits to last six years instead of the usual four. Council members Jac Siegel, Ronti Bryant and Laura Macias agreed with city staff who said such a development has historically cost much more than the $20,000 "community benefit contribution" that developer Dave Wilbur proposed. Council member Bryant described the move as decreasing the value of an important bargaining tool. Nevertheless, the council ended up approving the agreement after Wilbur stated he was unwilling to pay any more for it.
The project's approval was one of the quickest ever, with the council approving a request to allow the city planner to work on the project in March.
Because the 3.57-acre site is next to a light rail station, the council allowed it "transit oriented" status, which means a denser 0.65 floor area ratio is allowed over the more common 0.5 FAR common in the area, and 3 percent fewer parking spaces are required.
Almost $357,000 in off-site improvements will be made, including improvements to a walking path on the north edge of the site from the light rail station. Council members said the alley-like pathway appeared unsafe with walls on each side blocking visibility from adjacent parking lots.
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