A large-scale hotel, shopping and performing arts center project that will extend the reach of downtown Paso Robles was unanimously approved by city planners this week.
Pine Street Promenade, to be built at Pine and 10th streets at the site of the old Hayward Lumber yard, received a 7-0 vote of approval from the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday night, with no opposition.
Since the project is in line with the city’s zoning and master plan for the area, it doesn’t need approval from the City Council until its second phase, when the developers propose building the parking structure on city property, city planners say.
Construction is expected to begin within a year, project architect Steven Puglisi said.
“We don’t see very many projects come before us where no one says anything but positive, glowing accolades,” Planning Commission Chair Pro Tem Steven Gregory told The Tribune. “One of the interesting features, which I mentioned at the meeting, was it was probably the most detail-oriented project of its kind for environmental conservation.”
The two-phase project features plans to reduce its potential water use by at least 36 percent, incorporate solar energy and use low-emitting materials in its adhesives, sealants, paints, insulation, composite wood and other finishes, according to project documents. It would also meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standards for its environmentally friendly design.
A hotel and public market would be built first, followed by a performing arts center and the city’s first parking structure. A time frame for when both phases would be complete wasn’t immediately available Wednesday.
Plans for the project were announced in May by developers Brett Van Steenwyk and Debbie Lorenz, who also own downtown’s iconic Acorn Building. They pledged to build a walkable gathering place where people could shop, visit and eat, while also providing a link to the existing Amtrak station and the city’s core.
“I think it’s incredible,” Gregory said of the plans. “We already have, in my opinion, the best downtown. And I think it’s a great component that complements what’s already there.”
Furthermore, building something fresh at the former site of Hayward Lumber at 944 Pine St., whose buildings have been vacant for almost a decade, is important to keeping downtown moving forward, Gregory said.
Last year, Van Steenwyk and Lorenz purchased the former lumber yard, a 2.4-acre lot, for $4.25 million.
Costs to build and operate the Pine Street Promenade were not disclosed.
The hotel would have restaurant and office space, as well as a central plaza/gathering area and limited valet parking in the basement.
The hotel, designed for 106 rooms with the potential for 127, will also feature a public market where vendors can rent booths to sell their wares, similar to the Oxbow Public Market in Napa.
“They’ve put a lot of thought into it — it lends itself to small galleries and boutique businesses and a nice restaurant,” Gregory said.
Water was a big focus in the development’s design, planners say.
Low-flow fixtures, efficient landscaping and rainwater catchment are among several water-saving measures touted in a water conservation analysis prepared for the project by San Luis Obispo’s In Balance Green Consulting.
The analysis indicates that the project’s conservation measures will reduce its total water use from 3.52 million gallons per year to 2.24 million gallons per year — a 36 percent savings.
Plans to incorporate the use of gray water would save an additional 21 percent per year, for a total annual water savings of 57 percent over initial projections for a project of its size, the report says.
The second-phase parking structure, likely for paid parking, will serve the performing arts center as well as provide general public parking downtown. It will be five stories and have 200-plus spaces, according to the project’s plans.
A surface lot for 86 parking spaces will be constructed first and then removed in the project’s second phase to make way for the performing arts center. Those parking spaces will then be incorporated into the parking structure at the south end of the project.