Pleasanton residents could possibly see a new 5-1/2-story, mixed-use apartment complex on the northeast corner of the Stoneridge Shopping Center after the city's Planning Commission signed off on the development's final design plans last week.
The complex would consist of 360 apartment units and would total approximately 618,370 square feet in size and 65 feet in height. Even though the project exceeds the number of stories that is allowed in Pleasanton's housing design standards and guidelines, an exception was requested pursuant to state housing density bonus law, which the Planning Commission approved during its Feb. 22 meeting.
The project would be built across 6 acres located between the mall, the new 10x Genomics campus project to the south across Stoneridge Mall Road and offices to the east across Stoneridge Mall Road.
The project is not a part of Pleasanton's current sixth Housing Element cycle -- which is still being reviewed by the state -- as the project actually dates back to January 2012.
Back then, the Pleasanton City Council approved the rezoning of nine sites throughout the city for high-density multifamily development in order to meet its 2015-2023 Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
"The city did complete an environmental impact review that analyzed the impacts of this residential development and all the other development contemplated as part of the 2012 housing element update," community development director Ellen Clark said during the Feb. 22 commission meeting.
"Since then, we've completed additional environmental review for this project specifically, but that also takes into account other background development as part of the six cycle, the current Housing Element, as well," Clark said. "So comprehensively, the city has looked incrementally at those impacts and taken account of all of the developments projected overall ... including with respect to water impacts, public services and traffic concerns."
Since then it has gone to the Planning Commission three times -- twice in 2019 and again in 2020 before coming back last March with a final design plan -- originally, the project was going to build close to 500 units at the site before city staff proposed a mixed-use plan that brought the number of units down to the current 360.
"Staff believes the proposed site plan and positioning of the building are appropriate for the subject property," said Eric Luchini, senior planner for the city. "The applicant has included an adequate amount of usable open space and landscaped areas within the project, as well as areas for circulation and gathering that will improve the connectivity and functionality for that portion of the mall and make better use of an underutilized parking field."
The units would be "wrapped" around an internal five-level parking structure and residents would have access to two ground-level outdoor courtyard-style spaces, which include a mix of common use outdoor space and recreational uses and one common use roof-top deck area.
There is also a new parking structure that is being proposed along with the five-story building -- the structure would consist of 473 surface and parking structure vehicle spaces. Seven of the spaces would be surface level and 466 spaces would be located within the parking structure.
During the Feb. 22 Planning Commission meeting, the five commissioners voted 4-1 to endorse the plans while also adding a request for staff to conduct an analysis comparison that will be presented to the commission and the City Council
The analysis will look at the Stoneridge Mall Framework and newly adopted objective standards to understand the areas where the new 360-unit building may or may not comply with the framework standards.
The framework was developed back in August and finalized in January because of the size and various property owners within the shopping center desire to completely redevelop the area. The council approved staff to work on an early-stage development plan, which led to the Stoneridge Mall Framework.
Planning Commissioner Ken Morgan was the lone dissenter, saying he wanted a comparative analysis to be presented to the City Council before the council members make the final decision on giving the project the green light to move forward with construction. His reasoning was based on the fact that the design standards that the project is basing its plans off of are from 2012 and might not be the same as the current ones that the City Council passed recently as part of the Stoneridge Mall Framework.
Clark said that the project application was submitted last spring, which was way before the council adopted the new design standards in the mall redevelopment framework.
"What I'm asking is that we do an analysis to see where it does and doesn't comply with the new standards," Morgan said.
"Even though we can't mandate them, we can have a discussion with the applicant to understand whether they would be willing to make any changes to make them consistent with the Stoneridge Mall Framework that we've just adopted, or to potentially change the framework, if needed, so that we don't run into a situation where a year from now we're looking to approve a new project but the way this one has been built is inconsistent with even being able to meet the framework for the mall," he added.
The applicant behind the project is Simon Property Group, which owns roughly 60% of the parcels at the shopping center.
But Clark told Morgan and the rest of the dais that broadly speaking, the project will not obstruct any current design standards.
"The framework is written in such a way that it's fairly high level and that was done for a reason, because we have a lot more work to do," Clark said. "So I think the nature of the framework is one that would say that this project can be accommodated."
"It will be a factor -- almost an existing condition, as I mentioned -- that will be considered and I think there's enough latitude in the framework to adapt around it," she added. "Again, I don't see anything inherently in this project that stands in the way of any of the goals of the framework."
She also said any new application for that area afterward will be subject to the framework standards.
The project still needs to be approved by the City Council, which staff said will happen at a later council meeting.