Flood of development proposals get council support | December 16, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View Voice

News - December 16, 2011

Flood of development proposals get council support

by Daniel DeBolt

The demolition underway at San Antonio Shopping center may soon extend to California Street, thanks to a property acquisition that was among five major development proposals the City Council supported on Tuesday

The City Council voted to allow city planners to begin work on extending the mixed-use "Village at San Antonio" project to include a 3.6-acre parcel on California Street that developer Merlone Geier is set to acquire. It was one of five "gatekeeper requests" the council approved Tuesday, allowing projects in need of new zoning to be designed in anticipation of future council approval.

The property is home to Ross and Beverages and More, which would be scraped, allowing the Merlone Geier project to grow to 8.8 acres and surround several small business holding out at the corner of California Avenue and San Antonio Road. Hold-outs include the Milk Pail Market, Baron Park Plumbing and the produce market once home to the famous Shockley Laboratory, where research on the first silicon devices was conducted and that some say is the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Council members were supportive of the expansion after many years of pushing for owners to cooperate on the shopping center's redevelopment. The new property acquisition could remove the driveway required by the previous owners into the middle of the Merlone Geier project, something many found troublesome to design around. At this point it is unclear whether homes, hotel, retail or some combination will be built on the parcel.

"Maybe Merlone Geier will acquire those properties and integrate it into whatever they are going to create," Steve Rasmussen, owner of the Milk Pail market, said of the corner properties. "I do own the property, but the passion is my business. The real estate happens to be like packaging material."

Gatekeepers galore

On Mora Drive near Ortega Avenue is a cul-de-sac of 17 businesses, all of which are supposed to move by April under a 25-year-old zoning agreement for the street to convert to housing. Broker Grubb and Ellis represents the owners and submitted a gatekeeper request to allow the residential redevelopment plans to begin for the 5-acre property, approved 6-1 with member Tom Means opposed. Council members were lukewarm to a request for another 18 months for the businesses to move while planning goes on, a question the council is expected to take up early next year.

Apartment giant Prometheus Real Estate Group has picked up the apartment development proposal for 100-190 Moffett Boulevard from developer Fairfield Residential. The county's social services offices on the site would be replaced by high-density apartments of up to three stories. Prometheus has expanded the project to include property on the other side of Stierlin Road, 178 and 190 Stierlin, now home to an auto shop that is no longer favored by the city's zoning. The end of the Stierlin Road may be closed off to expand the project. The council's support was unanimous.

Council members also unanimously passed a request for Urban Housing Group to begin designing a four-story, 150-unit apartment project on 2.3 acres at 865 and 881 East El Camino Real, home to California Billiard Club and India Fresh grocery store. Council members said they were pleased by an opportunity to make the area more pedestrian friendly, but were not pleased that the owner of a used car lot on the corner refused to sell so the property could be included in the project.

At 248 East Middlefield Road, a vacant lot next to a Whisman Road gas station, a 19-unit "live-work" condo project is proposed by DRG Builders. Council members passed the gatekeeper request 5-2, with Mayor Jac Siegel and member Laura Macias opposed. Macias questioned the developer's experience with such a project.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com