What is Wheeler Plaza?
Wheeler Plaza is a 2.4 acre site owned by the City and Redevelopment Agency that is located one block west of El Camino Real and immediately southwest of the intersection of San Carlos and Laurel Street. The site is located directly behind the retail frontage of Laurel Street and includes retail frontage on San Carlos Avenue. The City owned parcel currently serves as a surface parking lot. The Redevelopment Agency owns four parcels adjacent to Wheeler Plaza - two retail buildings (fronting on San Carlos Avenue) and one retail building fronting Laurel Street (formerly Foodville) a rental housing building on the other side of the parking plaza. All three parcels (totaling 2.4 acres) are being considered for this Redevelopment project.
What is "The Project"?
The Wheeler Plaza project proposes to replace the existing surface parking and existing buildings with a new mixed-use development featuring underground parking, ground level retail, and condominium housing above. The Agency and City have required that the developer include open space in the form of plazas, parks or paseos as a public amenity.
Furthermore, all 187 public parking spaces must be reconstructed and made available for use by the patrons of local businesses. The City's design guidelines require high-quality architecture and materials for any new building in the downtown core ensuring that this new development will be an aesthetically pleasing addition to San Carlos.
Has a specific project already been proposed?
The City's development partner Silverstone Communities, has has proposed a 108 unit residential building above a podium parking structure with new retail space on San Carlos Avenue. Preliminary site plans and renderings are found in the community meeting materials from May 4, 2011.
What is the current General Plan land use and Zoning for this area? Does the proposed project conform?
The City recently adopted a new General Plan with for a density in this area of up to 50 units per acre. Development approval of the site would likely be through a Planned Community designation in which many of the development standards could be modified.
Was an environmental impact report completed for Wheeler Plaza?
A phase I and Phase II environmental assessment has been completed. A comprehensive Wheeler site-specific EIR has not been completed at this time. It should be assumed that an EIR or similar review will need to be completed as part of the entitlement process.
Isn’t there a Downtown Master Environmental Assessment that was completed sometime in the mid 1990s?
There was an MEA prepared. Staff is researching how or if it could be applied to a Wheeler Plaza mixed-use project.
Could you walk us through the planning entitlement process with a discussion of how long this may take?
There will be at least a six month process from application to approval, including the time for significant community outreach and neighborhood collaboration with residents and businesses. The project may require a full EIR which can add significant time to the process. Final review and approval will be at a public hearing by the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Will the City require retail on Walnut Street?
The City will not require ground floor uses that are compatible with our Central Retail Core District including retail and restaurant uses. Other uses at the ground floor may be permitted by virtue of the Planned Community approval process.
I understand that a similar proposal for Wheeler Plaza was considered approximately 5 years ago—why did it not go forward?
The City had preliminary discussions with a developer on a proposed residential project. The potential for such a project was the impetus for acquisition of the adjacent parcels. However, a proposal was never formally presented so it is not clear if would have been viable.
Will the developer be required to provide temporary parking during construction of Wheeler Plaza for those spaces that are disturbed or removed?
The City will investigate all options to accommodate adequate parking, a laydown area and site access during construction. Some solutions include temporary shared parking agreements in nearby parking lots or vacant parcels, and a valet service for downtown visitors and customers.
Would the developer be required to pay prevailing wages?
Yes, prevailing wages will apply.