With a 4-1 vote, the City Council gave the official thumbs up Tuesday to the development of the Mission Residences project, a four-story, 14-unit condominium complex planned for B Street downtown.
The building will replace two bungalows on the west side of the 200 block of B Street, just north of a two-story apartment building and Black Bear Diner, 255 Second St.
The development gained approval from four of the city’s five policy makers — with Councilman Brett Lee dissenting — despite objections from neighbors of the project site, who voiced concerns Tuesday about the council green-lighting a project that didn’t fit within the B Street visioning process the city completed in 2007.
According to the city staff report, the Mission Residences will exceed the maximum density set by that 2007 visioning process with a density rate of 42.4 units per acre compared to the 24 units per acre that’s technically allowed.
Also, the building will exceed the height guidelines of 38 feet with 45 feet of livable space. Meanwhile, only 21 parking spaces will be built instead of the required 28, based on the number of units.
“We recognize that there’s been a complete turnover of the (council) since 2007,” said Brelend Gowan, 23-year downtown Davis resident. “You folks may have a very different and new vision of what this area should be like, but with all due respect, it doesn’t mean the public does yet.”
But other than Gowan and a few other speakers, a commanding majority of those who spoke during public comment Tuesday came in support of the project. And while the council took pause to consider the visioning process, council members eventually picked the overall benefits to the community of filling a need for senior housing and high-density infill in the downtown.
“There are times when (there’s) a compelling reason that we have to, as policy makers, look at the overarching needs of the entire community,” Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson said. “And this is something that we continue to hear about … people that want to be able to age in place.
“We want people to move out of their big homes and move into something smaller, some sort of a walk-away, being able to take their Prop. 13 protections and move them down, out of their five-bedroom home and into a three-bedroom home; and what that would do for our schools and what that would do for the economic vitality of downtown.”
When the complex was first envisioned, Jim Kidd, the developer who proposed the project, actually wanted the condominiums to be geared toward seniors only, speaking last year during the pre-application phase about the need for more senior housing in Davis.
But after learning that it would be difficult to fill the 14 units in the complex with couples who would qualify for the age restriction, Kidd pulled back from the requirement.
Instead, the local developer proposed that the units be owner-occupied — which would be enforced by the condominium association’s governing documents — in an attempt to strike a balance between marketing the condominiums to older individuals or couples and improving the chances of filling the spaces.
“This was an evolving situation,” Kidd said Tuesday. “I wanted 55 (as the age restriction), but I couldn’t get it. Then I looked at 62 and I said I’ll go into that. But then I found out everybody living there has to be 62.
“When I was looking, I talked to 10 different people who were interested, I found two of them that would qualify. And that started to concern me because I don’t want to get stuck with a $7 or $6.5 million project and not be able to get qualified people to move in there.”
Council members considered mandating that the project carry an age limit of 62 and over, but Kidd’s reluctance appeared to take that possibility off the table.
Councilman Lee was especially in favor of the restriction in order to reduce the impacts on parking in the area, but in the end, the council decided that the high-density infill project brought enough value to the community to approve it.
“It’s smart growth, it’s infill, it’s downtown, it’s sustainable (and) it’s owner-occupied,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk. “That’s exactly the kind of thing we should be thinking about moving forward in our community. … I recognize the impacts to the neighbors but I think this is a good project, and I’m happy to support it.”
The council and specifically Mayor Joe Krovoza also discussed the general size of the condominium complex at length. The four-story building appeared to cause a bit of consternation for Krovoza, who at one point Tuesday seemed uncomfortable with the size of the facility within the scope of the B Street corridor.
With the addition of only accepting the project as a conditional use to the B Street zoning, however, Krovoza finally came around to the proposal.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash