The project would sit on the site of what is now Global Video and its ginormous parking lot, and would consist of three buildings (one each bordering Telegraph, Claremont, and Clarke) between 4 and 6 stories in height with as many as 120 units. The parts of the project along Telegraph and Claremont would feature street-side retail frontage (total of 7,700 sf) with actual nice retail spaces (17 foot ceilings!).
I admit that I’m personally not a huge fan of these kind of Emeryville-looking buildings, with stuff sticking out everywhere and all the bright colors and such – I’d much prefer it if more new developments looked like 8 Orchids or the back side of Broadway Grand, but I’ll happily overlook it since I’m just so thrilled with the idea of having some street-fronting retail there. That giant parking lot might be nice for people who like to drive their car to rent a movie, but it’s a real nightmare from a pedestrian’s perspective – it ruins the streetscape and is just so unpleasant to walk past. And I’m sure that the neighborhood will have no problem filling up the new retail spaces (hell, even the Wall Street Journal is writing about how hot Temescal is).
That map is probably too small to read – click on it for a larger image. I like the way they’re designing their parking – the structure would sit in the middle of site, between buildings, and the top of the structure would provide the required open space. The project will apparently be a mixture of rental and ownership units, but the precise mix has not yet been determined.
Now of course community members have raised concerns about shadows, noise, and traffic impacts, just like they do with well, every proposed building. The Initial Study (PDF!) found that the only potential significant impacts arising from the development would be traffic related, so the EIR will focus on those. The public comment period on the Notice of Preparation for the EIR ends on January 21.
By the way, if you weren’t already convinced that the zoning in this city (and particularly in Temescal) is a complete mess and needs to be totally thrown out, check this out. The site falls into two different zoning classifications – part of is is C-28 and another part is R-40. Normally the General Plan can take care of this kind of issue, but even that isn’t particularly helpful in this case, since the site is once again divided into two different categories. Part of the land is mapped Neighborhood Center Mixed Use, which permits 125 units per acre, while another portion of the lot is considered Mixed Housing Type Residential, which only allows 30 units per acre. Depending on where you draw the boundary between the two different use categories, the General Plan permits between 85 and 102 units on the property. Which is not a ton, but certainly more appropriate than the outdated zoning, which permits only 48 units, or up to 69 with a conditional use permit.
So if the maximum number of allowable units under any interpretation of the General Plan and the borders is 102, why are they talking about building 120 units? Because of this nifty little thing called SB 1818, or the State Density Bonus Law, which is basically a form of voluntary inclusionary zoning. The developer has committed to reserving five units in the building for families earning 50% AMI ($37,700/year), and in exchange, they get to build 20% more units than would otherwise by allowed under local zoning ordinances and the City can’t do anything about it.
Of course, since the messed-up zoning provides zero clarity as to how many units actually are allowed on the site, it’s not entirely clear what 20% on top of the maximum allowable density is. See the chart below (taken from the staff report on tonight’s item).
What a mess.