The Annex shopping center will remain part of plans that the city of Atascadero will consider June 5 when deciding whether to approve the retail site and a controversial Walmart center across from it on the north side of town.
The city of Atascadero received an application Thursday from Santa Barbara-based Montecito Bank & Trust to move forward with the project at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real.
The Annex and Walmart are separate projects but the ways their developments could impact the area were studied together and therefore the city will consider them for approval at the same time. The Annex is intended to have shopping, dining and some housing.
Montecito Bank & Trust is the lender of The Annex’s previous lead developer, The Rottman Group, also in Santa Barbara.
But Rottman still owns one plot of land within The Annex, which means the firm will remain part of the project, Atascadero Community Development Director Warren Frace said.
The bank, which bought the land for $2.5 million at a public auction May 8, is interested in getting land entitlements for The Annex because that would make the parcels more valuable should the bank decide to sell the land to a developer, Frace said.
Entitlements typically increase land value because they include a master plan and environmental clearance for development, leaving the new buyer with significantly fewer hurdles before construction, Frace said.
It’s taken Walmart and The Annex, for example, nearly seven years to get their projects before the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration.
The Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to the City Council, will hear the projects’ proposals at its meeting June 5. The City Council, which has final say, is then scheduled to hear the proposals at its June 26 meeting. The public can give their input at both meetings.
The projects' road improvements have been the center of public concern.
The Annex’s share of the road improvements would now be paid by whoever buys the property when Montecito Bank & Trust decides to sell, Frace said.
Specifically, the proposal to be detailed on June 5 outlines that the city would front nearly half the cost of the road improvements and then wait to reimbursed from fees future builders would pay. Walmart would also contribute two types of roadwork fees during the project's first phase.
Montecito Bank & Trust sued The Rottman Group last year for defaulting on $6.2 million in loans for several assets, including the land slated for The Annex, according to a 2011 filing at Santa Barbara County Superior Court. The case is still open; its next hearing is set for June 4, according to the court.