By Kate Snyder
A plan that has been years in the making for a housing development in the northern portion of Vallejo’s waterfront is moving closer to completion. The Mariner’s Cove project was presented in October to the Vallejo Design Review Board and outlined details of the proposal that is slated to include 174 single family homes, 22,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and two parks that would provide open space to the community.
Bounded by Mare Island Causeway, Mare Island Way and Harbor Way, the 27-acre Mariner’s Cove project was first conceived as part of the city’s Northern Waterfront Land Plan more than 15 years ago and since then has undergone various changes. An initial proposal for 175 townhome units has been shifted to 175 single family homes, according to planning documents, and the two parks that are being proposed are slightly different shapes from the previous plans.
The developer of the project is the Callahan Property Company, based in Pleasanton, and the architect is SDG Architects, based in Brentwood. The landscape architect is Gates and Associates, based in Walnut Creek. Rusty Case, associate principal at Gates, presented to the design review board details related to the two parks that would be part of the project – the 3.52-acre Promenade Park and the 4.45-acre Wetland Park.
“It’s really been a goal of ours to make these two parks transition to one another pretty seamlessly so they don’t appear to be two separate spaces, they kind of work together as one holistic open space system,” he said during the October meeting.
Park features include a multi-use meadow right in the middle, Case said, that would be about 0.75 acres and bordered by a 10-foot multi-use path of toned concrete that would be used by pedestrians and maintenance vehicles. The plan also calls for nature gardens at the east edge of the park area that would be less manicured and more natural. In the center of the Promenade would also be two play areas with maritime themes and separated into a zone for children 2 to 5 years old and a zone for children 5 to 12 years old, though Case pointed out that the play areas could be enjoyed by kids of all ages. There would also be various picnic areas off the park as well as 9,000 square feet designated for dogs. Case also said that all plants are climate-adapted and drought tolerant and the majority of plant material is native to California.
The homes would include a variety of housing plans, according to the project documents, such as different floor plans, two elevation styles and eight different color schemes. Styles presented were the Monterey style, which includes decorative shutters, flat concrete tile roofing and horizontal siding with wood trim, and the Tuscan style, which would have features such as exterior stucco, arched entries and stone veneer clad column bases.
David Terhune, principal at Ruggeri-Jensen-Azar, which is the civil engineer on the project, also spoke to the board about the plan to address sea level rise within the development. The plan includes installing a 3.5 foot tall sea wall that until the sea level starts rising to critical levels will immediately be functional as a place for residents to sit. All building and home construction will also involve a certain elevation, he said.
“Based on the city requirements, we have set our lowest residential building at an elevation of 15.5 [feet], which is two feet above the projected requirement,” Terhune said. “All three of the commercial buildings are set at the same elevation, 15.3 [feet].”
Though no action was taken on the project, board members discussed the details and asked questions related to the design, the planned available parking and how to make the commercial buildings stand out more. One concern that several commissioners shared was about the type of housing the proposed development would provide and whether it was the type of housing that Vallejo needed. Board Member Tara Beasley Stansberry made the point that the proposal is for single family homes and that while the applicant had stated that they wanted to attract millennials, millennials might not be the best target market.
“It would be wonderful if you would consider that a very small portion of these homes were sold at below market rate,” she said. “We are in a housing crisis here in Vallejo, and while this is wonderful, you mentioned that you wanted to attract millennials. But they’re not the only people who buy homes. And they’re not even buying right now. And so I’m wondering if that would be an option.”
The next step is for the applicant to take the recommendations of the board and return at a later date with an updated design of the project, at which point the board would decide whether to recommend that the planning commission and city council ultimately approve the project.