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Commission OKs redesign plan for partially demolished downtown building

Former Chinese restaurant site on West Angela set to get facelift

The Pleasanton Planning Commission approved a design review application Wednesday for a single-story building on West Angela Street that was partially demolished after its latest restaurant tenant vacated the property.

The proposal from owner Larry McColm calls for remodeling the building to remain at roughly 3,100 square feet inside while adding 996 square feet of covered exterior spaces that could be used for outdoor dining. The patios would be covered by a decorative wooden trellis, and a new brick-clad tower would be added to the front corner to help the main entry stand out.

"A lot of effort has gone in to this, to put the best face on this building as we possibly can," McColm, of McColm Commercial Real Estate, told the commission Wednesday evening in the council chambers.

"This is a very prominent site and has an empty shell on it right now," city planning manager Adam Weinstein said, expressing support for the proposal. "Tons of people walk down Angela Street all of the time, especially on the weekends. We really need a building with active uses, whose architecture reflects the character of downtown and is designed in accordance with the Downtown Specific Plan."

The commercial building at 30 W. Angela St., vacant for more than a year after Joy China Cuisine closed, has civic ties for Pleasanton. Built in 1968, it was originally used as an Alameda County Justice Court and later housed the city council chambers during the 1970s.

After the Chinese restaurant left the building in 2015, the site found itself on the city's radar when code enforcement received a complaint about demolition and property maintenance there that August, and officials determined the owner hadn't requested or obtained permits, according to Weinstein.

The city issued a building permit two weeks later for interior non-structural demolition and re-roofing, though the city later found crews took down non-structural exterior walls too, outside the permit's scope of work, Weinstein added.

McColm assured the Planning Commission on Wednesday that the building remains structurally sound. He said he is looking to remodel the building using the existing structural walls, rather than tear down and begin anew, for cost and time considerations.

Before developing the current one-story redesign, McColm submitted a preliminary application to the city in January 2016 proposing a new three-story building with a restaurant below, offices in the middle and apartments up top.

City staff generally supported a mixed-use concept but didn't like the proposed building's design plan because it didn't reflect the architectural character of downtown, according to Weinstein.

McColm later scrapped that concept and eventually arrived at the one-story redesign.

"That chapter is now closed, so we are left with renovating the existing structure and working just the best we can. And what I say is, we're putting on the best amount of makeup and lipstick we can to make this a beautiful project," McColm said.

The commissioners were largely supportive of the proposal, though Commissioner Justin Brown said he thought "it needs a little more kick" while also pointing to the "brown on brown on brown" color concept. The commission urged the owner to work with city staff to identify appropriately varied color and finish options.

The project was also endorsed by the Pleasanton Downtown Association's Design and Historical Review Committee, Weinstein noted. He also acknowledged that the site would lose up to two of its 26 parking spots because of relocating the trash enclosure at the back of the building.

With no tenant under lease, the interior design remains a bit up in the air. The owner said the building will "probably" remain a restaurant, but he left the door open for possibly considering a retail tenant.

After a nearly 50-minute discussion, the commission voted 4-0 to approve the design application. Commissioners Jack Balch and Nancy Allen were absent. Brown, an alternate on the commission, stepped in to take part in the vote.

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