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Medical Offices on Los Gatos Blvd Approved

Residents express concern about project's lack of retail, parking and traffic impacts.

Despite being pulled from the consent agenda at the request of several concerned residents Monday evening, exclusive medical offices will be built at 15400 Los Gatos Blvd. by SHP Newark LLC.

The Los Gatos Planning Commission denied the developer's request in September from being exempt from having to build retail or restaurant on a project that calls for a 40,000-square-foot, two-story building at the corner of Los Gatos Boulevard and Gateway Drive, the site of the empty Swanson Ford dealership.'

However, the Los Gatos Town Council voted unanimously Nov. 7 to allow developer to proceed without the earlier stipulation that 8,500 square feet of retail or restaurant needed to be built with the project.

"The placement of the building is not appropriate for solely professional use," said longtime Los Gatos resident Larry Arzie, adding that the project is against the Los Gatos Boulevard plan.

Arzie also said plans to build a medical office on the boulevard require more traffic and parking scrutiny and asked the Council to return the project to the Planning Commission for another review.

"The neighborhoods around this project have made it clear to you that they wanted a people-oriented project. It is on the record," Arzie stated. "A place they can walk to and buy taxable goods from. A place to meet and socialize. A place that benefits the neighborhood. By taking this away from them, you should at least make sure it does not look like an old-school Stevens Creek project."

The building will be located on a two-acre site that was most recently occupied by Swanson Ford and Hertz Rental Car, as well as McHugh Lincoln Mercury.

In June 2009, the Los Gatos Town Council gave the project a green light, but it was for a 40,000-square-foot, two-story building with at-grade or below-grade parking for 197 vehicles.

Back then, the council stipulated the project should have a minimum of 8,500 square feet of retail or restaurant space fronting Los Gatos Boulevard.

The applicant, however, asked for that stipulation to be removed. SHP Newark LLC, a subsidiary of San Mateo-based Sand Hill Property Co., has told town officials he needed to be exempt from building retail, because there is no interest from the retail community during the past three years.

SHP Newark LLC has also indicated a single tenant medical office user is interested in the entire building.

According to a staff report, ever since the recession, the lending environment has been challending for developers. Speculative mixed-use office/retail developments have not been successful in obtaining financing.

The medical operator would serve the community on several fronts, according to the report. It would provide additional medical services not available, would stimulate development on Los Gatos Boulevard and encourage connectivity to the adjacent parcels and uses.

Los Gatos senior planner Suzanne Davis explained that medical offices are the most desired use for the area because of the proximity to and other medical and dental offices nearby.

 

Leslie November 22, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Once again, the city planners and city council show that when they talk about the character and quality of life in Los Gatos, they are not speaking about the complete town, but only about the area near the Almond Grove district. They consistently allow businesses to open and buildings to be built on Los Gatos Blvd. that take no account of the fact that many of the town's citizens live in neighborhoods directly next to that Blvd. I guess that only some Los Gatos citizens deserve character and quality of life. The rest of us only deserve to look at sterile buildings and to breathe the fumes and endure the traffic of people who come to medical appointments. Almond Grove citizens don't even have to listen to summer music from a hotel, but OH what I would give for the only inconvenience to be louder summer music.
Sheila Sanchez November 22, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Hi Leslie, as Larry Arzie pointed out last night, this project was not originally intended to be solely a medical office building. I can understand your frustration in light of that. My only hope is that the building will face the boulevard with the parking in the back. Otherwise, as Larry indicated, we'll see a "sea of cars" fronting the boulevard, which is not what the blvd plan was about.

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