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Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 7, 2013

More high density apartment complexes coming to Pleasanton

Council OKs West Las Positas project with 2 more developments planned

by Jeb Bing

St. Anton Partners, a California-based owner-driven, privately held, multifamily development and investment company, is expected to receive final approval Wednesday from the Pleasanton Planning Commission of its bid to build a 168-unit, three- and four-story complex on West Las Positas Boulevard near Stoneridge Drive.

The City Council has already approved the project, but the developer is also seeking a development agreement that will "memorialize" some of the commitments St. Anton has made in exchange for a longer expiration date on the project approval.

The St. Anton Partners project is the third in a series of high density housing developments approved by the council with two similar proposals to follow shortly. All are part of the settlement agreement between the city and Urban Habitat, an Oakland-based affordable housing coalition that successfully sued the city over its 1996 housing cap and lack of adequate affordable, workforce housing.

The St. Anton site is 5.6 acres at 5729 W. Las Positas Blvd. in the Hacienda Business Park. It is one of nine sites included last year when the City Council rezoned 73 acres in various parts of the city to accommodate high density housing following the court settlement.

Last year, the council approved a project by BRE Properties for high density apartment buildings with 498 units, also in Hacienda Business Park. The developer is expected to break ground on those apartments later this summer.

The two building sites include mixed-use, high density residential and commercial developments containing residential units, live/work units and ground-level retail space at the southeast corner of Owens Drive and Willow Road and at the northern corner of Gibraltar and Hacienda drives.

The planned projects will provide more than 70 units that will be available to lower income households.

In April, the council also approved a new multi-story, high density apartment project and adjoining retail center for a section of California Center that has until now has been one of the city's major office centers. That project will include two-, three- and four-story buildings and a two-building retail center on a portion of the office building site at Rosewood and Owens drives that the developer, Pleasant Partners, has acquired from California Center, formerly called CarrAmerica.

The project, on 8.4 acres, will include five residential buildings with the two-story buildings facing the streets and the taller buildings in the back. Of the 305 studio and one-, two- and-three bedroom apartments planned for the development, just under 50 will be in the "affordable" classification, well under the 15-20% rate once required under the city's now-invalid inclusionary zoning ordinance.

St. Anton Partners, on the other hand, has agreed to make at least 20% of its units available at low, subsidized rents to low- to very-low income tenants. In addition, three of these units will be designed for tenants with severe mobility issues, with door knobs, drawers and switches lower to the floor to accommodate the needs of those in wheelchairs.

St. Anton is drawing on $40 million in tax exempt bonds from the state of California to be used to finance the development. Those funds are available at low interest to developers such as St. Anton who pledge to make the affordable units available in perpetuity and also to provide other amenities. In St. Anton's case, it will offer educational services and other specialized programs for low-income tenants in the complex, programs and services that will be available to its other tenants as well.

Plans for two more high density housing projects have been submitted to city planners.

South Bay Development, which sold part of its 35-acre site at the corner of Bernal and Valley avenues to Safeway, which is now the Pleasanton Gateway retail center, plans to build 97 single family homes and apartment buildings to accommodate 210 units on its remaining property south of the Safeway site.

Scott Trobbe, who represents South Bay, reviewed those plans with the Planning Commission on May 22. A public hearing on the project is expected to be held later this month or in July.

Also pending is a 345-unit apartment complex on 16 acres of undeveloped land at Bernal and Stanley Boulevard, across from McDonald's . The property is owned by Frank Auf der Maur and Konrad Rickenback. The developer is E&S Ring Management.

Preliminary plans filed with the city planning staff also call for a corner retail center at Bernal and Stanley with a small grocery store and a coffee shop, possibly a Starbucks. Those plans will go to the Planning Commission for consideration later this year.

The Auf der Maur site once was considered for a second Home Depot store in Pleasanton, but the developer declined to pursue the plan after no one on the City Council at the time expressed an interest in approving the bid.

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