Windstar Communities is proposing to build a 350-unit apartment complex near the new BART station on 7 acres north of Stoneridge Mall Road.
Planning Commissioners got their first look at the project May 9, reviewing artist's drawings and poring through details surrounding the development, and were asked to give their critiques.
Construction is expected to begin on the BART station in the next few weeks, with completion in early 2009. Windstar is eager to build its TOD and wants to open phases of it to coincide with the opening of the new transit center.
"As more and more people take mass transit, this is going to be the gateway into Pleasanton," said Eric Heffner, senior vice president of Windstar.
The plans call for the units to coexist with retail stores in a live-work type of use. The buildings would be four to five stories high. Ranging from one to three bedrooms, the apartments are designed in three pods with communal spaces in the middle.
Commissioners praised the project, saying transit-oriented development is needed in Pleasanton because the city is bordered by two major freeways.
Commissioner Jennifer Pearce said she'd like to see service-type businesses in the retail portion of the project such as dry cleaners and a pharmacy. Chairwoman Anne Fox agreed, adding that a postal center would be a nice addition.
Included in Windstar's plans is an 'urban' grocery store that would comprise part of 11,000 square feet of retail space to serve both apartment dwellers and those who work in nearby office parks.
Most commissioners agreed that 350 units sounded like a good number that was both economically viable for the developer and feasible for the land use.
Commissioner Arne Olson went a step further, saying he thought "the units should be exempt from the city's housing cap."
The housing cap of 29,000 units that Pleasanton is mandated by voters to adhere to is nearing the limit, causing the city to closely evaluate what projects with housing units it will approve.
Fox and Commissioner Kathy Narum said 350 apartments may be too much and wanted Windstar to see if having less units would allow more space for a tot lot and other public open spaces.
A total of 423 parking spaces are allotted for the apartments. Another 117 will serve residents' guests and roughly 100 more will be provided for retail and leasing office uses. The parking will be housed in a two-level garage and a surface lot.
A separate four-story, five-level parking garage will be constructed by BART adjacent to the proposed TOD on 1.2 acres for train users. Pedestrian walkways on both the Pleasanton side of Interstate 580 and the Dublin side will connect to the freeway median where the BART station will be located. Another parking garage will be located on the Dublin side, where transit-oriented development plans there include a 150-room hotel, a 210-unit condo complex and a 7,500-square-foot commercial building.
Some commissioners felt the parking situation for the Pleasanton side was appropriate while others felt it may be inadequate. Narum suggested the developers show the commission research on other transit-oriented developments and the amount of parking that was used.
"You're going to have young families moving in and they're going to need to drive their kids to school because Pleasanton doesn't have a bus system," Pearce said.
One aspect of the development all commissioners were in agreement about was their distaste for the urban-style architecture.
"I'm not really sure how to say this, but it looks like Dublin," Narum said.
"I agree," said Commissioner Phil Blank. "It just doesn't look like Pleasanton."
Olson suggested replacing stucco with brick and others added that the yellow and red color scheme reminded them of developments of their neighbors to the north.
Another work session will be scheduled with the Planning Commission before it will be presented to the commission for approval.