San Lorenzo Express News
Plan for San Lorenzo Commercial Center Is Reduced Again
AUGUST 29, 2005
A plan for redeveloping San Lorenzo's "Village Square" on Hesperian Boulevard has been significantly scaled back since it was first presented four years ago. The present plan calls for the Albertson's market to be razed to make room for housing. A new super-size supermarket would be built in the old Mervyn's parking lot. Many existing stores will remain.
Almost all of the commercial property along Hesperian in "downtown" San Lorenzo Village has been owned by the Bohannon family, descendants of David Bohannon, the developer of San Lorenzo Village.
Four years ago the Bohannons entered into partnership with an Orange County developer, Civic Partners, to prepare a plan for developing the properties. The Bohannons intended, and still intend, to sell off the properties.
Plan Has Changed Steadily Since 2002
Civic Partners presented a conceptual (or master) plan to the public in January 2002. The plan, a mixture of retail, commercial suites, and residences, created a pedestrian-centered environment catering to local residents rather than a car-centered "destination" shopping center. Although the concept was very favorably received, the community was intensely opposed to the high number of residences proposed by Civic Partners. (See Architects Present Plan for Village Square.)
A second conceptual plan was made public in January 2003, reducing the number of residences and radically changing the original plan. The plan was altered because the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association decided not to include its property in the area to be developed. The association removed its property from consideration because it believed Civic Partners would not build an association meeting hall of the same size as the existing facility. In addition, it appeared that Civic Partners would not provide adequate space for a new library that would meet future needs. The association's property includes the site of the present public library. (See Second Master Plan.)
In the spring of 2003 a master development plan was included in the environmental impact report on the San Lorenzo Specific Plan, a policy plan for the area submitted to the county board of supervisors for approval. The "specific plan" was the result of two years of public meetings. The Civic Partners master plan was very similar to the plan released earlier in the year. (See Third Master Plan.)
The Current Plan
The present plan, described at an August 4th meeting of the San Lorenzo citizens advisory committee that advises the Redevelopment Agency, is considerably different from earlier plans and a far cry from the original conceptual plan. The plan includes a 6.3 acre retail center covering the old Mervyn's site and parking lot. The center would be dominated by a super-size supermarket, a few small shops facing Hesperian, and a restaurant. To date, Civic Partners has not had a commitment from Albertson's Stores or other company to lease the planned supermarket.
The strip mall running along the east side of Hesperian (which includes the shops anchored by the two banks) will remain. The Redevelopment Agency reports that the strip mall would be "remodeled to blend with the new development" and that no agency funds would be spent on this effort.
Civic Partners had proposed three residential projects: 330 condos, 50 "loft-style" condos, and 70 affordable "senior" apartments. According to the Redevelopment Agency, the 330 condos did not prove financially feasible (because of the cost of parking garages) and Civic Partners proposed instead 154 townhouses.
Civic Partners will not build public spaces. Instead, the Redevelopment Agency will purchase 20,000 square feet of land from Civic Partners to construct "village square improvements" at a cost of $1.25 million. The agency would also pay for "streetscape" improvements along Hesperian from the I-800 overcrossing to via Mercado.