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August 26, 2009 > Park in-lieu fee eliminated for Landmark Tower

Park in-lieu fee eliminated for Landmark Tower

By Simon Wong

The Landmark Tower will be a 375-luxury condominium, 18-story, mixed-use building at 600 Barber Lane where the former Billings Chevrolet dealership was located. The residential units will contain one, two or three bedrooms. The development includes an eight-story garage and 150,000 sq. ft. of commercial office and retail space.

When Council approved the project in November 2008, the park in-lieu fee was calculated at $4,638,685 based on the standard calculation of 2.5 people per household. The applicant, TP Pham Investments, LLC, was permitted to justify a different demographic, as per the City's Subdivision Ordinance, and submitted a figure of 1.45 people per household which reduced the in-lieu fee to $2,091,833 which staff would assess for an acre of land.

The project includes "park features," including a 0.5-acre roof-top garden under glass-and-metal roofing, throughout the building for public use during business hours. This permanent access would be recorded as a public-access easement which can be used to offset the developer's park obligations.

"The combination of public-access easement and value of the roof-top improvements reduce the in-lieu fee to zero," stated Senior Planner Sheldon Ah Sing.

"If you build the park, the in-lieu fees are no longer applicable. I thought this had all been agreed last November," stated Mayor Livengood.

City staff clarified the factors that make up the in-lieu fee - population density and how much parkland is not provided to satisfy the requirement for the target group. They also confirmed that the developer, and not the City, will maintain the "roof-top park/garden" as had been agreed when the project was originally approved.

On August 18, the applicant also sought approval for modifications requested by the Council for greater architectural consistency and less contrast between the granite base and the rest of the building.

Before voting, the Mayor reiterated the roof-top garden would be open to the public during business hours and the owner/developer would assume responsibility for the feature in perpetuity. Additionally, the property will be annexed to Community Facilities District 2008-1 to help fund public services and, thus, reduce the burden on the General Fund.

Council voted unanimously to accept TP Pham Investments, LLC's, demographic changes and eliminate the park in-lieu fee in exchange for public access to the "roof-top park/garden" and approve exterior improvements.

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