By Jacob Bourne
In the spirit of the City of Livermore’s Downtown Specific Plan adopted in 2004, a City-owned eight-acre site consisting of multiple parcels is up for redevelopment for hotel, residential, parking and retail uses. A request for proposals from qualified development teams was issued in July 2015, and after an intensive selection process examining 14 applications, Lennar Multifamily Communities was chosen as the developer who has partnered with Presidio Companies for the hotel portion of the project.
The site of the proposed property occupies lots both east and west of South Livermore Avenue between Railroad Avenue and First Street. It’s also in close proximity to the Bankhead Theater, Village Square Shopping Center, Livermorium Plaza and Livermore Transit Center.[contextly_sidebar id=”Vnh9FkxfF3rFz9S6CaW6szlmSfEKGwE9″]“This is the core of our Downtown and has been identified as a catalyst site,” said Cheri Sheets, city engineer. “It used to be a Lucky grocery store that declined years ago. The site to the east was the first catalyst area with a cinema, performing arts venue plus retail. It’s a large site that’s centrally located and was part of a visioning process that started in the early 2000s. The goal is to balance retail and housing. The housing component will be the major customer base supporting the retail. So far the area has been lacking in specialty retail stores.”
The bulk of the development will be west of South Livermore Avenue with a multi-family residential complex offering 200 rental units, a pool and courtyard amenities just north of a 550-space parking garage. Sixty stacked flat condos will border South L Street with ample landscaping and pedestrian passageways throughout residential areas. Fronting South Livermore Avenue, a partially open-air market hall is geared to be a desirable shopping destination with 12,000 square feet of retail offerings that complement existing businesses in the area. On the east side of South Livermore Avenue, a 135-room Marriott Autograph Hotel will include a restaurant, conference, retail and meeting spaces. The custom-designed hotel will feature amenities such as a rooftop deck, lounge, pool, fitness facility and flex-use spaces.
“I think we’ve had a strong community engagement process,” Sheets reflected. “We had a great turnout for the Council-Planning Commission workshop—a lot of people came out and spoke. We should be back to Council with a response by early next year.”
Special City Council and Planning Commission workshops were held on August 1 and 8 to discuss project plans and community feedback. Of the 14 development applicants, one team consisted of local community members who wanted a larger open space component incorporated into the project. Though the current proposal meets the Downtown Specific Plan open space requirements, a concept is evolving to create a connection between the development and nearby municipal parks. The connection could be potentially incorporated into the project or implemented separately. The onsite open space currently consists of plazas and paseos for residents and members of the public. An outdoor area totaling 18,000 square feet outside the market hall could be used for community gatherings, public art and performances.
Some feedback from the community has included concerns about having a large structure solely used for parking on the property in addition to 350 spaces devoted to condo residents. Since the garage would be for public use, the City is managing its development and has hired Watry-Buehler Collaborative to design a structure that allows for good light and air circulation and strong connectivity for pedestrians.
Now that the development team has been selected, the application proposal is in the process of being refined. Parking and traffic studies are necessary for the environmental review, which should be completed by early 2017.
“The beauty of the process is that now we can look at how to incorporate all the comments to make it a much better project,” added Sheets.