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Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - December 7, 2012

Building boom returns

Pleasanton's Community Development Director had good news for Realtors last week although those who'd prefer that the city stay on a slow-growth track when it comes to housing and population growth might not agree. Speaking to members of the Valley Real Estate Network, Brian Dolan updated the group on new zoning and residential building plans that could easily add another 10,000 people to the city's population rolls within the decade, if not sooner. It's all part of the settlement agreement between the city, the Urban Habitat affordable housing coalition in Oakland, the Alameda County Superior Court, the Association of Bay Area Governments and state housing authorities that require Pleasanton to build more housing.

For starters, BRE, a national developer known for its high-density affordable housing projects, is about to start construction on a multi-million-dollar housing project in Hacienda Business Park that will accommodate as many as 500 individual apartment units in 18 three- and four-story buildings when the development is completed. These will be located on two separate sites that the City Council rezoned for 30 units per acre, not quite as dense as some of the apartment buildings across the freeway in Dublin, but close. Dolan said a third site, owned by Roche Laboratories, also was rezoned for high density apartments, although the company's management at its European headquarters hasn't yet given its approval. Developers, including BRE, are urging Roche to sell the land, which is now zoned residential.

Two more projects also are expected to gain the approval of the city's Planning Commission and then the City Council's early next year. One developer has already received unofficial approval from the Planning Commission in a pre-application workshop hearing to build a 168-unit apartment complex on West Las Positas Boulevard near Stoneridge Drive. Again, with 30 units per acre, the development will include three-story buildings and one four stories in height with 15% of the units in the affordable category for low-to-middle income tenants, the others in much higher market rate, more luxurious units. Down the street, the owners of California Center, formerly called CarrAmerica, are planning to tear up much of the campus green and parking lots to build 300 luxury apartments and a new retail center on the corner across from the Walmart store complex. The firm will add parking as needed for its half-empty office building facility with a multi-deck parking garage closer to I-580.

There's more. Dolan said a developer is close to finalizing plans for 350 luxury rental apartments at the corner of Bernal Avenue and Stanley Boulevard, a site once sought by Home Depot for a second store in Pleasanton. That request was shelved by the City Council, but this plan, which will also includes a small retail center at the corner across from McDonald's, appears headed for approval by next March.

Also likely to gain the approval of city authorities is a 300-unit apartment complex planned for the vacant site south of the new Safeway/Gateway Center at Valley and Bernal avenues. That project, which will replace an eight-building office complex approved for the site 12 years ago, will include 88 single family homes that Dolan said will be moderately sized and perhaps modestly priced.

As for the schools that may be required for any children moving into these hundreds of new apartments, Dolan said the school district's new demographic study and facilities strategic plan will address those concerns. As with all residential building in Pleasanton over the last 10 years, 15% of new multi-family construction must be reserved for those who meet affordable housing requirements. The rest, as these new developers are planning, will have much higher rents that many prospective tenants will not be able to afford.

But not to worry, Dolan said. Work on most of these new buildings won't start for a year or two and won't be occupied until mid-decade or later.

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