The Pleasanton City Council has approved a mixed-use housing and retail development at Old Bernal Avenue and Augustine Street that will require tearing down a small home built in 1895 and ripping out one of three heritage trees on the site.
Mike Carey, a real estate broker, told the council that the old 868-square-foot home is too old to save and that the tree to be removed , which is 50-60 years old, is the youngest of the three on the site. To spare the ax, one of the three new homes proposed would have to be removed from the development plan, an action the council did not require.
The project, located across Old Bernal from the city library parking lot, will include three three-story single-family homes and a fourth three-story building with retail space on the first floor and three apartments above.
The mixed-use building's first floor would have 948 square feet of floor space, enough to accommodate multiple tenants, Carey said. Located at the far southwest edge of Pleasanton's downtown, it would blend in with the effort to allow offices on the first floors and apartments on upper floors.
Adam Weinstein, the city's planning manager, said the project meets the guidelines of the Downtown Specific Plan and would fit in with both changes being considered for that plan and the likely expansion of the downtown area if the library and Pleasanton city hall complex are moved to a new location in Bernal Community Park.
Approval of Carey's bid to develop the site with high-density housing did not come easily. The city's Planning Commission first considered the proposal last January and held an informal discussion with Carey at a workshop meeting before recommending that the City Council approve the project.
Even then, the commission voted 3-1 to approve Carey's plan, with Commissioner Nancy Allen opposed.
Some also wanted to wait to approve the project until a task force, just now being formed, finishes its work in updating the downtown specific plan, which would include Carey's site.
Gerry Beaudin, director of community development, said the new homes and apartments, because of their small size, will add to the lower income of inventory in the city's Housing Element.
"Based on the size of these units, they should fall into the moderate to lower income level," Beaudin said. "We're talking about 300-square-foot units which will add to our mix of housing which we report to the state Department of Housing and Community Development every year."
Also, responding to a question about tear downs occurring frequently in other wealthy communities,unities such as Palo Alto, where perfectly good homes are bulldozed to make way for more expensive houses, Weinstein said tear downs of the type approved by the council Tuesday aren't new for Pleasanton. However, here they are generally old homes in poor shape or not in highly visible locations.
Recently, a small office building at 273 Spring Street was torn down to allow for the development of a new mixed-use project. A non-historic single-family residence at 363 St. Mary St., behind an existing commercial building was torn down to allow for development of a new single-family residence.
"While we're likely to continue to see applications for tear-downs here and there as people continue to want to invest in the downtown area, we're very cautious in evaluating the historic/architectural significance of buildings proposed for demolition to make sure that we're protecting the lower-scale, historic character of downtown," Weinstein said.
"Also, even when buildings proposed for demolition aren't historically significant, we're often successful in working with applicants to preserve these older buildings, which can often be re-purposed while allowing for new development elsewhere on the site," he added.
Carey didn't waste anytime is starting his new project, Fences went up Wednesday as crews awaited a demolition permit.