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Downtown SLO office, condo project moves forward

Hamish Marshall's Pacific Courtyards project, seen here from Osos Street, has been redesigned to better match the neighborhood.
Hamish Marshall's Pacific Courtyards project, seen here from Osos Street, has been redesigned to better match the neighborhood.

A mixed-use project with office space and nine residential units is moving ahead in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday voted 4-0 to approve final design plans for the Pacific Courtyards project between Osos and Morro streets. Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson, who lives nearby, recused herself.

The project includes 8,050 square feet of office space and nine residential units in two separate, three-story buildings on about a half-acre currently used as a parking lot in the city’s old town historic district. It is bordered on the north by Pacific Street and on the south by Pismo Street.

Developer Hamish Marshall said Wednesday that he anticipates construction could start by the end of June.

“We’re honestly just happy to be at the end of it,” he said. “We’re looking forward to moving forward as quickly as we can.”

The project was first submitted to the city in 2008 and later approved, but it stalled because of the recession. Significant changes to the project design required new approvals by the city.

The city’s Architectural Review Commission approved the project’s contemporary design last September, but the decision was appealed to the council separately by neighboring property owners Alice Davis, and Stewart and Diane Jenkins.

In November, the council upheld the appeals and directed Marshall and partner Chuck Braff of Robbins Reed Inc. to redesign it to be more compatible with the historic building guidelines.

The revised plans with a traditional design were reviewed in December at a joint meeting of the ARC and the Cultural Heritage Committee.

The ARC recommended the council approve it on the condition that the mass and scale of the Morro Street side of the project be reduced to complement the nearby Crafstman-style residences, according to a staff report by San Luis Obispo senior planner Phil Dunsmore.

Several local residents, including the appellants of the earlier design, told council members Tuesday that they were pleased with the end result.

“I think everything in the last change is very positive,” Davis said. “The new project blends very well with the existing buildings and homes.”

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