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SLO's Garden Street Terraces project heading to City Council for final OK

San Luis Obispo’s Architectural Review Commission voted 5-1 on Monday night in favor of the design of Garden Street Terraces, a large hotel, residential, retail and commercial development slated for downtown San Luis Obispo.

Commissioner Jim Duffy was the only person to vote against the project, citing concerns that it has not garnered enough community support.

The 1.1-acre project will go before the City Council on Oct. 18 for final approval — nearly five years after the project was first introduced.

A substantial redesign of the project — prompted by concerns raised by the council and the community over the project’s size and preservation of historic resources in existing buildings — was submitted to the city earlier this year.

Public concerns about the color scheme planned for the buildings, pedestrian features such as awnings and the architectural design of the building proposed for the corner of Marsh and Broad streets were discussed Monday night. Architect George Garcia made changes to the project in response to those concerns, including incorporating lighter brick elements, and alternate patterns, blends and mortar color hue of the building’s gray façade. Pedestrian-friendly amenities were also added to Garden Alley by adding recessed wall areas for plants and recycled public art installations.

The majority of the six members of the Architectural Review Commission voiced support for those changes.

Eight public speakers, critical of the project, said that they would like to see more done to incorporate more elements of the existing buildings downtown such as lighter colors and design features such as cornices found on other buildings in the area.

As part of that Garden Street Terraces redesign, the height of the entire development, proposed for the stretch of Marsh Street from Broad to Garden streets, was reduced to 50 feet or less from up to 74 feet in the previous version of the plan.

The scope of the project, being developed by WestPac, was also reduced to 125,000 square feet from 212,000 square feet — reducing the number of hotel rooms to 48, compared to 95 in the initial plan, and eight residential units, down from 34 in the previous version.

If the project is approved by the City Council next month, construction would likely begin in 2012.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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