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New SLO development proposal includes 702 homes, brewery and jogging trails

SLO spends $2.1 million to make this street safer

Street safety improvements have been completed along Laurel Lane which include reducing the crossing distance for pedestrians, removing a travel lane so pedestrians only cross three legs of traffic rather than four and a high-visibility crosswalk.
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Street safety improvements have been completed along Laurel Lane which include reducing the crossing distance for pedestrians, removing a travel lane so pedestrians only cross three legs of traffic rather than four and a high-visibility crosswalk.

A major mixed-use development that includes 702 apartments and townhouses, plus commercial space for a microbrewery, coffee shop and deli, could be coming to the Laurel Lane area in San Luis Obispo.

The conceptual plan for “1160 Laurel Creek” on a 17-acre site at the corner of Laurel Lane and Orcutt Road has been submitted to the city for review. The plan was revised from a 606-unit proposal withdrawn last year and would include properties both for sale and rent.

The concept, which could rise as tall as five stories, includes apartments ranging from 380 square feet to 850 square feet, as well as townhouses with attached parking, built over retail space.

The project would include 8 percent very low income housing, meaning about 56 homes would be restricted to price ranges affordable to those who make well below the city’s average salary.

No price ranges have been established on market-rate units, which will be “affordable by design” according to the developer, Blue Sky Development.

“There’s a need for housing in SLO for firemen, police, teachers and others who make up our workforce,” said Chuck Braff, a member of Blue Sky Development’s team. “That’s who we’re charged with providing homes for.”

The proposal envisions converting a 196,000 square-foot manufacturing building into housing divided among 11 proposed buildings the project would establish on the site.

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A rendering of the proposed 1160 Laurel Creek project in SLO Arris Studio Architects

Atoll Holdings is listed as the commercial tenant of the large building space, which would be converted to housing, according to the conceptual plan. The nearby Crux Climbing Gym, a separate building, would remain in place.

Blue Sky Development is seeking to provide “a variety of workforce housing options” along with amenities including pools, a half-mile jogging trail, fitness areas, bike repair areas, yoga rooms and lounges, according to Thom Jess, the project architect, of Arris Studio Architects.

“The location could not be better for this type of community. It is right on the bike path, close to downtown, close to the job centers near the airport, served by existing utilities, etc.,” Jess said in an email. “The whole goal is to design an infill project with a vibrant mix of housing and commercial uses as environmentally friendly as possible.”

Multiple bus stops are located along Laurel near the property, which also abuts the railroad tracks on the south side.

Because the project is in its planning process infancy, the city hasn’t yet undertaken environmental impact review of issues including traffic, noise, views, water and habitat.

The Planning Commission is scheduled review the conceptual plan at a meeting on Feb. 13, 2019 as a preliminary discussion on the proposal. The Planning Commission, Architectural Review Committee and City Council each are anticipated to consider the idea and give guidance in future meetings — and planning likely will take years.

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A rendering of the proposed 1160 Laurel Creek project in SLO. Arris Studio Architects

The site is currently zoned for manufacturing and office space, which means it may need to be rezoned, according to city officials.

The site also has an overlay that allows for mixed-use projects, meaning the city’s policy could allow for the project with the Planning Commission and City Council’s discretion on how much housing would be appropriate for the site.

“The project is an ideal opportunity for workforce housing,” Braff said.

“We search for the circumstances that allow for these sorts of amenities and possibilities and we found one that’s on 17 acres,” Braff said. “The need for housing is real and immediate.”

In addition to the housing and amenities such as a community garden and outdoor movie area, proposed commercial spaces include a microbrewery, coffee shop, mini-maker space, deli and cleaners.

The tallest structure would be five stories with additional four-story buildings.

There are a proposed 1,101 parking spaces, including garages (meeting the exact number of the minimum requirement), along with 1,600 bike parking spaces.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.

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