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December 3, 2008 > Landmark Tower conditionally approved by city council

Landmark Tower conditionally approved by city council

By Dustin Findley

Landmark Tower is an 18-story, $500 million, mixed use building project. City council approved the project, at the November 18 meeting, on a conditional basis. The conditions include a study conducted by the applicant to refine the population estimate, in an effort to reduce the fees that the developer has to pay the City, and redesign of the building with "architectural consistency."

James Lindsay, Planning and Neighborhood Services Director, described the project. It will be located at the old Chevrolet site, a 3-acre location on Barber Lane. The building will consist of 3 components: residential, office space, and retail.

Three-hundred seventy-five condominium units make up the residential component. Office space will be on the fourth level, above ground. The retail component will take up the first 3 levels. The parking is proposed to be 3 levels underground, as well as structured parking all along the back of the project. At the meeting the population estimate for the 375 residential units was 2.5 people per unit.

Traditional application of the zoning ordinance of parking did not work in this vertical mixed-use environment. City staff had to look at and consider peak hours of traffic density for the residential and commercial uses, which occur at different times. They calculated the parking demand to be 1,356 spaces. The project is proposing 1,392 spaces, so staff believes there is adequate parking when you take into account the differing peak hours of the 3 land uses of the project.

Parking is being shared by all of the uses within the tower, but not for any neighboring uses. In that respect, the parking is self-contained. Lindsay explained that the parking analysis is an estimate based on information currently available, involving such factors as retail, commercial, and restaurant square footage, and more parking may be needed when the project is completed.

Vice Mayor Livengood questioned Lindsay about the revenue this project will generate for the city in terms of sales taxes, property taxes, other fees; disregarding the fees that the developer has to pay the city up front, and looking ahead. Lindsay surmised that the revenue that this project would generate would exceed the upfront fees.

Councilmember Giordano wanted to make sure that they were satisfying the need for upscale and "executive type" housing identified by a Economic Development Commission report. Lindsay said this project would a type of housing that currently does not exist in the city. It will provide penthouse suites, which currently don't exist, and offer fantastic views. Parks will also be constructed on the penthouse level, seventh and fifth floors.

Councilmember Gomez was concerned about the 2.5 occupancy estimate and its implementations because "traditional families are not living in these projects." A representative from the developer said that they could complete a more accurate study and population estimate in 2 - 3 months. The council agreed that this would only serve to the developer's benefit because it has already met the requirements, and will most likely find that 2.5 is too high and will get to pay less fees.

Councilmember Polanski wanted the colors of the building to be better unified so it would appear as a cohesive whole, rather than disparate elements, as it appeared in the design brought before the council.

Livengood sees the money that Landmark Tower will bring, in the short term as it creates jobs during its construction, and income for the city in the long term after the tower is constructed. It meets many needs in one project: jobs, executive housing, retail, office space, "all of the things that this city needs."

Outgoing Mayor Jose Esteves said Landmark tower will have a resounding effect on the surrounding businesses, and greatly benefit the City of Milpitas.

Construction is scheduled to begin in Fall 2009 and end in Fall in 2011. The scope of the works, as written in literature available at the meeting, is to demolish existing building to construct an eighteen story mixed-use tower consisting of 14 stories of residential condominiums over 4 stories commercial condominiums over 3 stories of basement parking with an attached 8 story parking garage and related landscape

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