The proposed Garden Street Terraces project — which will substantially change a large segment of downtown San Luis Obispo — is expected to face the final hurdle for approval before the San Luis Obispo City Council tonight.
The 135,000-square-foot project includes a large hotel, residential, retail and commercial development slated for 1.1 acres bordered by Broad Street, Garden Alley, and Garden and Marsh streets.
A substantial redesign of the project was submitted earlier this year, prompted by concerns raised by the council and some in the community over size and preservation of historic resources in existing buildings.
The council is set to vote tonight whether the project can begin development as it is proposed. The council might also require additional design changes, which could require the project be reviewed again.
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First submitted by WestPac Investments in 2006, the project has been through 12 public hearings before the city’s three advisory bodies charged with reviewing proposed developments: the Planning Commission, the Cultural Heritage Committee and the Architectural Review Commission.
Critics of the project have said that its contemporary design and color palette with shades of gray and white will be too stark of a contrast to the surrounding buildings.
In September, the Architectural Review Commission voted 5-1 in favor of the latest design of Garden Street Terraces, with member Jim Duffy casting the only vote opposing the project. He was concerned that it has not garnered enough community support.
The latest changes made by architect George Garcia in response to feedback by the community and the city’s advisory bodies included incorporating lighter brick elements, alternate patterns and blends and the mortar hue of the building’s gray façade.
Pedestrian-friendly amenities were also added to Garden Alley, such as recessed wall areas for plants and recycled public art installations.
As part of the Garden Street Terraces redesign, the height of the entire development was reduced to 50 feet or less; it was up to 74 feet in the previous version of the plan.
It was also reduced from 212,000 square feet to 135,000 square feet by trimming the number of hotel rooms to 48 (from 95 in the initial plan) and residential units to eight (compared with 34).
It also retains the existing buildings on Garden Street such as SLO Brew and the façades of other historic buildings such as the Smith and the Laird buildings.
If the project is approved by the council tonight, construction would likely begin in 2012.
The San Luis Obispo City Council meets at City Hall, 990 Palm St., starting at 7 p.m.