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Hotel, retail, housing planned for old Foster’s Freeze site in downtown San Luis Obispo

This rendering shows what the mixed-used project would look like on the 500 block of Marsh Streets (at the corner of Marsh and Nipomo streets). The project is in the planning stages and will go before the Architectural Review Commission on Nov. 13.
This rendering shows what the mixed-used project would look like on the 500 block of Marsh Streets (at the corner of Marsh and Nipomo streets). The project is in the planning stages and will go before the Architectural Review Commission on Nov. 13.

More than 60 downtown housing units, a 36-room hotel and nearly 20,000 feet of commercial space are envisioned for a downtown San Luis Obispo project that could soon be approved by the city’s Architectural Review Commission after two years of planning.

The proposed mixed-use development, called San Luis Square, is located at the old Foster’s Freeze property, next to the historic Jack House and Gardens. It will be considered for final approval at a hearing on Nov. 13.

The project would feature three four-story structures on about an acre at 570, 578 and 590 Marsh St. and 581 Higuera St.

There’s a big interest in living downtown. This could serve people like workers and seniors.

John Belsher, project applicant

The developer, The Obispo Company, led by local attorney John Belsher, is proposing 62 small residential units — 40 studios and 22 one-bedroom units that average 500 square feet per unit; 19,792 square feet of retail and commercial space; 37 bicycle spaces; a two-level underground parking garage with 136 parking spaces; and a 36-room hotel.

The residential component is designed to help meet a city goal of adding workforce housing and offer new living spaces downtown, Belsher said.

“Some of the units could be rented and some could be owned,” he said. “We don’t have any estimates on the prices for them at this point. There’s a big interest in living downtown. This could serve people like workers and seniors.”

The proposal requests a maximum building height of 59-and-a-half feet. The commission may approved building heights up to 60 feet under city policy.

“The fourth story would be set back (from the street),” Belsher said. “This project is all within city standards.”

The commercial space would include restaurants, retail stores and a public marketplace with a variety of goods, including fruits and vegetables. Belsher said that he’s not sure which stores might lease space.

36 number of proposed rooms for hotel proposal

More than 30 percent of the proposed project is pedestrian walkways and one-third of the site is devoted to public space, including outdoor seating areas, a plaza and arcade, Belsher said.

Earlier plans for San Luis Square didn’t include a hotel. But Belsher said that would provide something new and fit with a need in that part of town.

“It’s only 36 rooms so, we’re not talking about a national chain (hotel operation),” Belsher said.

If the Architectural Review Commission approves the project, the developer could proceed with obtaining building permits, unless the project is appealed to the City Council.

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The Foster's Freeze sign in downtown San Luis Obispo, California, was taken down Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

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