The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve a multi-million-dollar, 350-unit apartment project next to the new West Dublin-Pleasanton BART station. A transit-oriented development (TOD) similar to 370 townhouses and apartment units planned near the East Dublin-Pleasanton station at Hacienda, the project will include a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units within walking distance of rapid transit.
At the same time, the council has taken under advisement proposals for two other residential developments in Hacienda that would add another 370 townhouses and apartments, also planned for vacant lots within walking distance of the BART station just north of Hacienda. Also under review is a multi-million-dollar expansion of the CarrAmerica Corporate Center that would add three new office buildings, retail stores and a five-story hotel.
The Windstar project that was approved Tuesday will include two four-story apartment buildings that, because of higher ceilings in many units, will rise to 68 feet. They will include 70 affordable apartments for low- to very-low-income tenants. The apartments will offer 213 one-bedroom, 130 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom apartments, with several top floor apartments featuring rooftop lofts. Rents for those designated as affordable would start at $861 for a one-bedroom unit.
Eric Heffner, senior vice president of Windstar, told the council he has been working on the project for six years. He now has a 93-year lease for the 7 acres that are owned by BART, which will use revenue from Windstar and even larger development across the freeway in Dublin to pay for the new BART station and operations here.
The Pleasanton council's action in rezoning the property from commercial to also allow residential agrees, too, to Windstar's plan to include 14,000 square feet of mostly ground-floor retail stores as mixed use with the apartments. Heffner said one of the stores could be a slimmed-down major brand supermarket, being considered by a company that is downsizing its markets to meet increased demand in mixed use, transit-oriented developments such as Windstar's.
Sketches shown to the council included tree-lined pathways that would give BART commuters access through the apartment complex to Stoneridge Shopping Center just across Stoneridge Mall Road.
But not everyone signed on to the Windstar project.
Concerned about the major changes planned in Hacienda, Councilman Matt Sullivan urged the council to hold off its approval until the entire community has a chance to look at the major developments planned in Hacienda and decide how Pleasanton should move forward. With the city nearing its 29,000-unit, voter-mandated housing cap, the 700 new housing units at Windstar and Hacienda would leave only 1,000 units or less for future projects.
"We have a lot of other projects that are going to come through and possibly get approved. That will significantly reduce the opportunity we have to build better projects," Sullivan said.
Sullivan and Councilwoman Cindy McGovern also questioned the plan to cluster 80 affordable units planned in Hacienda on one site. They said Pleasanton's housing policies have always tried to disperse housing for lower-income residents, usually in homes and apartments indistinguishable from market rate housing.
Still, the affordable cluster won the endorsement of others on the council and most on the Planning Commission in a recent workshop. The 80 affordable apartments would be built by W. P. Carey on part of its site, formerly owned by the Shaklee Corporation, with 130 townhomes on the other part of the site.
On the other side of Shaklee, BRE Properties plans to build 240 market-rate apartments and condominiums.
Neither development would have retail stores, which planners said are nearby in other Hacienda locations.
A major component of the Hacienda plans is for three additional office buildings on the CarrAmerica site, totaling 480,270 square feet, and a new five story, 130-room hotel with 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail.
Matt Edwards, director of development for CarrAmerica, said the CarrAmerica center is underutilized and that its owners have been waiting for an appropriate time to build it out.
Even though the office building market remains sluggish, demand for space in prestigious locations such as CarrAmerica is strong. Within the last few months, Robert Half International, a major Pleasanton employer, announced that it will relocate its offices and employees to Bishop Ranch in San Ramon after failing to find adequate office space in Pleasanton to expand and consolidate its operations. If CarrAmerica's proposed new office buildings had been available, Robert Half officials said they would have preferred staying here.
Attorney David Gold, of the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, who is involved in the CarrAmerica expansion project, said he supports the city's "mixed-use, sustainable vision" for Hacienda as written in the new 2008 Pleasanton General Plan, now being approved. He said Hacienda currently has 1,530 multiple and single-family homes in the business park with 900,000 square feet of retail space. He cited the opening of the BART station in the mid-1990s as the impetus for moving Hacienda into a more contemporary transit-oriented development.
After reviewing the Hacienda development plans, the council asked City Manager Nelson Fialho to establish a task force to consider the CarrAmerica and housing plans, and to make a recommendation back to the council later this year.
Fialho said it's likely the CarrAmerica expansion plan will be considered separately and first so that development on the site can begin in 2009. The apartments and townhomes also could be built in 2009, but probably later in the year.
When the Hacienda Business Park was originally developed in the early 1980s, it primarily consisted of office uses. Since then, more than 730 acres of the park have been turned into mixed-use residential.