By Jack Stubbs
San Leandro recently saw a large-scale development make significant strides in the city’s design review process. In early June, the City Planning Commission recommended that San Leandro City Council approve several crucial entitlements that would allow for the development of the Monarch Bay Shoreline Project, a 52-acre stretch of land along San Leandro’s northern shoreline, to proceed. On June 21, the Board approved the applicant team for a Conditional Use Permit and Site Plan Review.
The Monarch Bay Shoreline project, which is spearheaded by Los Angeles-based developer Cal-Coast Companies, will ultimately include a new 210-room hotel with an attached restaurant, a detached 16,024 square-foot restaurant/banquet facility, a 2,500 square foot market/café, a 285-unit multifamily apartment complex, 144 detached single-family homes, 62 townhomes and related parking and site improvements, according to the project proposal on the city’s website.
At the recent meeting, the applicant team described the context around the Monarch Bay Shoreline Development Project, which is a public-private partnership between the City and Cal-Coast Companies. The project embodies a vision to create a regional destination that connects the community with the Bay and provides enhanced recreational and community amenities, as described on the City’s website.
As well as representing a revitalization effort of the Monarch Bay Shoreline effort, the hope is that the proposed development will serve as a focal point for the surrounding community.
“The city has been looking for quite a long time about how to revitalize this area…it’s a very paved-over area with lots of parking…it’s very underutilized and under maintained, so we’re really thinking about how to create something vibrant with a lot of placemaking for a place the community really wants to go to, a gem that the community wants to go to. Tonight’s hearing is a very big milestone,” a representative from the applicant team said at the meeting.
Indeed, recent strides made with the advancement of the mixed-use development mark only the latest chapter for an endeavor that has been ongoing for nearly 15 years. In 2008, Cal-Coast Companies was chosen by the City as the Master Developer.
“The city leaders had realized in the early 2000s that we had a problem, and wanted to start looking for a solution,” said the project applicant’s representative.
In 2012, the City entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement (ENRA) with the developer, and in 2015, an EIR and General Plan/Zoning Amendments were conducted. In 2020, the city reached a legally-binding commitment for the Disposition Development Agreement (DDA), Purchase and Sale Agreement and leases.
This year has been dedicated to planning entitlements, the development agreement, DDA Amendments, park design and outreach.
“We have all the resources working together from the city on this project, which really is of city-wide importance…with an emphasis on public views, open space and public access,” the project applicant said.
At the most recent meeting, the applicant also provided the board with a review of building materials, and how the Monarch Bay development was aligned with San Leandro’s housing goals.
The City of San Leandro’s first Housing Element was adopted in 2003, and updated in 2011 and 2015, and is part of the City’s General Plan, which guides decisions about land use, transportation, natural resources, community design, public services and environmental hazards in San Leandro, according to the city’s website. The overall purpose of the Housing Element is to ensure that safe, decent, affordable shelter is provided for all San Leandro residents, and also provides direction on the production of new market-rate and affordable homes and guides the city’s housing programs and activities.
The board members’ feedback was relatively brief, covering topics around the project massing, considerations around the developers’ choice of tenant, and the importance of considering improvements to the pedestrian experience along the streetscape.
Next steps for the project include technical studies, permits, and ultimately, on-site construction. Property sales and leases are expected to occur by the end of 2022.