Pleasanton Weekly

News - September 10, 2010

City OKs retirement community, new auto mall

Staples Ranch could be annexed into city late this year

by Jeb Bing

The City Council on Tuesday night gave its final approval to multi-million-dollar development projects on Staples Ranch that will be the largest Pleasanton has seen since Hacienda Business Park was developed in the 1980s and 1990s.

With the council's action, both Pleasanton and the Alameda County Surplus Property Authority, which owns the 124-acre site at the southwest corner of El Charro Road and I-580, will ask the Local Agency Formation Commission of Alameda County (LAFCO) to annex the tract into the city of Pleasanton so that the planned developments can proceed.

Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who is a board member on LAFCO, said she hopes the agency can consider the annexation bid in November.

Three specific projects were approved Tuesday night:

* Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton, a 45-acre senior continuing care community to be developed by Continuing Life Communities (CLC), with up to 800 units for assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living homes and apartments.

* Hendrick Automotive Group will build a new auto mall on its 37-acre portion of Staples, next to the junction of I-580 and El Charro Road, directly across El Charro from an outlet mall that Livermore is considering.

* A 5-acre park that will include tennis courts and a landscaped area that will also serve as a detention pond to collect excess water during heavy storms from the Hendrick, Stoneridge Creek and other developments on Staples Ranch.

Also in the long-range plans for Staples are an 11-acre retail center and a larger 17-acre community park with 10 acres to be set aside for a two-story, four rink facility to be built by San Jose Arena Management, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks. No developers are currently on board to buy and build the retail center. Negotiations are continuing with the Sharks over the ice facility.

Supporters and future residents of Stoneridge Creek again filled the council chamber Tuesday night, standing and applauding when the council voted 5-0 to approve the senior retirement and care facility. Continuing Life Communities, a prominent senior housing operator with complexes similar to what's proposed on Staples Ranch, has said it has the finances needed to start construction once it can obtain building permits, probably early next year. It's possible that the independent living units, which will be built first and in phases, could be ready for their first occupants by early 2012.

Although it now has its development plan in hand, Hendrick will probably wait a year or two before constructing its new auto mall, which will replace the one Hendrick now has in the Rosewood Drive-Santa Rita Road area in east Pleasanton.

The two newly approved developments and the proposed others are expected to generate hundreds of new jobs, new services and millions of dollars in sales tax revenue for the community.

The council's action came after years of effort to develop the empty farmland that is owned by Alameda County. At one time, more than 300 homes were proposed for the site, but that plan was rejected by city officials. IKEA, the Swedish discount department store, also considered building a Tri-Valley outlet on Staples, but turned instead to Dublin and then abandoned the project altogether.

The current plan goes back at least six years when Alameda County and Supervisor Scott Haggerty sought to sell the land to developers with the intention of annexing Staples into the city of Pleasanton. Those efforts languished, mainly because of objections to extending Stoneridge Drive through Staples to connect to El Charro Road on the other side. Opponents feared drivers, stuck in traffic on I-580 and at the 580-I-680 interchange, would find it attractive to cut through on Stoneridge to avoid the congestion.

Proposals made this time, however, caught the interest of Pleasanton with plans to make Staples a business, senior residential, recreational and retail center.

As part of its unanimous vote to approve the Staples Ranch plan Tuesday, the council also agreed to extend Stoneridge Drive to El Charro Road and Pleasanton on condition that the road opens to El Charro only after Livermore extends Jack London Boulevard on the other side.

City Manager Nelson Fialho said Tuesday that Livermore officials have told him those plans are proceeding, with the Jack London extension project to start within a year or two.

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