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Offices on Los Gatos' Royce Street?

Los Gatos Planning Commission will consider tonight whether to amend the downtown's central business district zone to allow for some minor office use.

Planners will consider a request tonight from the owners of a building located at 114 Royce St. in downtown Los Gatos to allow offices on the ground floor.

However, before recommending such use, they will have to decide whether changing the town's zoning code in Los Gatos' central business district is a good idea.

The commercial area features a variety of retail businesses that cater to visitors on foot and it restricts offices to protect the prime retail locations that have made the area one of the most popular shopping destinations in the South Bay.

San Jose-based Hallway Partners LLC has owned the small building since 2007, which has commercial uses on the ground level and a small apartment on the second floor.

Located on Royce Street, between Santa Cruz and University avenues, it has four tenants and two vacancies in six spaces that include the Hearing Aid Device Company, the Len's Barber Shop and O Spa Salon.

The problem is that in the time Hallway Partners has owned the building there have been no lessees in one of the vacant spots, and the building owner has received 69 inquiries from possible lessees in the past four years, with 47 of them requesting office space.

Allowing office use on the building's bottom floor will bring customers to benefit  Santa Cruz Avenue retailers, the building's owners said. They explained amending the code will add service professionals such as consultants, psychotherapists, lawyers, designers and others, which will bring clients who will patronize the nearby restaurants and shops.

The building owners said they've had to pass on office tenants only to have the space sit vacant, and that modifying the town's code will allow them fill their empty spaces and bring pedestrians to the downtown area.

If the zone is amended by the Los Gatos Town Council at a future meeting, the C-2 zone will permit personal service businesses and office activities with a conditional-use permit at the rear of the building, which won't have street frontage.

Currently, office activities in the area are allowed on Lyndon Avenue, properties abutting Wood Road, the west side of Victory Lane and the south side of Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, with some exceptions. They're also permitted on the east side of South Santa Cruz Avenue across from Wood Road and the north and south side of West Main Street west of Victory Lane.

According to Marni Moseley, an associate planner with the Town of Los Gatos, there are about 1,800 square feet in the back of the building that encompass two suites, which are accessed through the rear.

If the request is granted, the owners could split the suites into several offices, Moseley explained.

Brenda Hammond October 12, 2012 at 08:28 PM
So the people really paying for the parking structures are the people that park, shop and dine in downtown since the merchants pass on their overhead costs to them. I talk to a lot of people everyday in my business. I think it is an accurate estimate that about 90% of the residents I talk to say that they don't think we have a parking problem in town. Some out of town visitors do call from cell phones to ask us if we can recommend where they can park. We guide them to the lots between University and NSC and they arrive within a few minutes so their difficulty appears to be lack of knowledge as opposed to lack of spaces. People must be finding spots all over town since I see the sidewalks full of people. I think every business owner in town would agree that we could use more customers. Not because we are greedy but because it is difficult to be successful even with the bustling town we already have. There are solutions to this problem but if we don't have a parking problem then we don't survive. Even if we built another $10m parking garage we would fill it and then wish for more. Which brings me back to the shuttle. A way to satisfy you and me.
Brenda Hammond October 12, 2012 at 08:31 PM
My thoughts on merchant participation for a shuttle were that a portion of their marketing budget be diverted to advertise on the shuttle in order to encourage the riders to make a purchase in their business. The proceeds from the ads would be used to pay for part of the shuttle. There are hundreds of employees at Netflix and the hospital and many are already coming downtown in their cars. I can appreciate that when you do the math it sounds impossible however as a business owner when I do the math it seems possible. Maybe that's because I know how much the shuttle company was going to charge and I know that there are some businesses in town that would love the chance to offer hundreds of people a ride to their front door without impacting parking.
Brenda Hammond October 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM
I don't know why you call the valet/parking at Lyndon Plaza a smoke and mirror trick. I see it working and I see a successful center with great and many long term tenants. Something must be working because I have been frequenting that center for over 20 years along with everyone else. You don't like a lot of the decisions made over the years and I don't necessarily agree with all of them either. The bigger picture and the reality in my opinion is that we have a successful and vibrant downtown. It requires decisions that are innovative, out of the box and with a vision for what the future brings. Growth happens. Some of the busiest and most beautiful cities in the world have historic ruins in the middle of contemporary new architecture and have been transitioning for 1000's of years. I think we are capable as a town to do the same thing and we're still so young. Maybe it just comes down to perception and attitude. I have confidence in our future and I appreciate everything that our policy makers have done and will continue to do. All of them really care about this community just like you and I. If we only focus on our own perception of mistakes we could end up spinning in circles. Larry, we could go around and around right here for weeks and we would all get some history lessons!! Maybe you would like to stop by for a cup of coffee some time for a one on one. I've survived here for almost seven years and you've not been in. Consider this a formal invitation. ;)
Larry Arzie October 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM
To make the shuttle work, you need everyone to get on board. The Business Improvement District was shelved in the 90s because of the unhappy merchants having to participate. If you can present a viable reason for the District to be started up again and can gain support, then the shuttle program may have a chance. Good Luck
Larry Arzie October 12, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Alternative (creative) and ghost parking have been he bane of our existence.Even with the Valet parking at the Lyndon Plaza they use more than what would be needed because the town allowed them to turn retail space into higher use classifications.. With three restaurant, and the rest mostly office spaces they far exceed their parking needs. Vibrancy by the way is not more restaurants, more office uses, more traffic and circulation, and less parking. Vibrancy is not turning our downtown into an entertainment district. It is not intentionally pushing rents up through policy actions of increased intensification. Yes perception is often a defining factor and to some it is totally different than for others. The central business district can only handle so much. Coffee sounds good. I'm listed in the phone book.

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