Fremont City
California

Planning Commission Report
3676

SILICONSAGE CENTERVILLE MIXED-USE PROJECT – 37358 Fremont Boulevard – PLN2017-00229 - To consider a Discretionary Design Review Permit, Vesting Tentative Tract Map and Private Street to allow demolition of all existing buildings located from 37358-37494 Fremont Boulevard and 3768-3820 Peralta Boulevard and construction of a new mixed-use development featuring multi-story buildings containing a combined 26,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space with 93 rental apartment units on the upper floors along Fremont Boulevard and 72 for-ownership townhomes at the rear of the site facing Peralta Boulevard, Parish Avenue and Jason Way, and to consider certification of a Final Environmental Impact Report (SCH# 2018072040) prepared and circulated in accordance with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Information

Department:PlanningSponsors:
Category:Site Plan and Architectural Review

Item Discussion

Location:               Portion of the block bounded by Fremont Boulevard, Peralta Boulevard, Parish Avenue, and Jason Way, in the Centerville Community Plan Area

 

Area:               4.6 net acres

 

People:              Shaivali Desai, SiliconSage Builders, Applicant

              DJ Edwards, JMH Weiss, Engineer

              Brian Fletcher, Callander Associates, Landscape Architect

              Joel Pullen, Project Planner, (510) 494-4436, jpullen@fremont.gov

 

General Plan:               Town Center

 

Zoning:               TC-P(TOD); Town Center-Pedestrian with Transit Oriented Development Overlay District

 

Body

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The applicant is proposing a new mixed-use development on the northeast side of Fremont Boulevard between Parish Avenue and Peralta Boulevard. The project would include demolition of all privately-owned existing buildings facing Fremont Boulevard and construction of mixed-use development along Fremont Boulevard with retail at the ground floor and two to three stories of residential above comprising 93 rental apartment units. A total of 72 three-story townhouses would be constructed to the easterly rear of the project site between the mixed-use building facing Fremont Boulevard and Jason Way. There are two options to be considered with respect to integration of the only register-eligible resource at the site—the City-owned Fire Station No. 6 centrally located at 37412 Fremont Boulevard—into the project. The two options are as follows:

 

(1) The “Original Project,” which would retain and rehabilitate the former Fire Station No. 6 structure for adaptive reuse within the project, reconfigure its parcel abutting Fremont Boulevard, and develop a landscaped pedestrian passageway from Fremont Boulevard to Jason Way. This option would include 64 apartments and 25,000 square feet of commercial in two structures, each set on one side of the Fire Station, in addition to the aforementioned townhouses to the rear. A reduced massing alternative to this option would reconfigure the northerly mixed-use building to reduce upper-floor bulk in the vicinity of former Fire Station No. 6 and generally reduce unit size, resulting in 81 apartment units.

 

(2) The “Applicant Preferred Project” (referred to as the “Project Variant” in the Environmental Impact Report),” which would demolish the former Fire Station No. 6 structure and absorb the site of the former station into a larger and connected mixed-use building that would accommodate an additional 1,000 square feet of retail space and 29 apartments within that portion of the enlarged mixed-use structure. In this latter scenario, there would be a total of 93 apartments, 26,000 square feet of retail, and the same 72 townhouses to the rear.

 

In both scenarios, the City Council has purview as to the disposition of the Fire Station No. 6 structure and City-owned Rose Court property through its role as both landowner and as the final approval authority for the proposed project.

 

The project would be in conformance with the General Plan land use designation for the site and with General Plan goals related to both historic preservation and providing residential units within close proximity to mass transit. Staff recommends that Planning Commission recommend approval to the City Council of the Original Project with a reduced massing alternative as recommended by the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) and further described below in the Background section of this staff report, based on findings and subject to conditions provided in Exhibit “C.

 

BACKGROUND AND PREVIOUS ACTIONS

 

Historic Status of the Fire Station

The original Fremont Fire Station No. 6 is a two-story building designed in the International Style by the local Niles firm of Sorensen & Ellsworth and was built in 1954 shortly before City incorporation. The fire station was determined to be seismically unsound and decommissioned in 2008, and a new fire station at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Dusterberry Drive was constructed. The fire station has not been used for any purpose in the decade since. It had been considered for recreational uses, but the structural and accessibility upgrades that would have been necessary to utilize the building square footage, the majority of which usable space is on the upper floor, was cost prohibitive. A 2007 historical study determined the structure to be eligible for the California Register under Criterion 3 (Architecture). An October 2017 Historical Resource Impact Analysis confirmed this finding, offered a list of character-defining features, and assessed the effect of development on the resource with respect to compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Other structures on Fremont Boulevard were built between the 1950s and the 1970s. No other structures on the project site were found to be register-eligible, and the project was determined not to result in a substantial adverse change on any other resources. See Informational Enclosure 1 for the October 2017 Historical Resource Impact Analysis by Page and Turnbull, which includes in its appendix the 2007 California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Primary Record form by Woodruff Minor. This analysis was relied upon in preparation of the further study in the Environmental Impact Report.

 

Surrounding Uses

The subject site is within Centerville’s Historic Town Center that stretches along Fremont Boulevard in the vicinity. To the northwest, the Centerville Train Station lies beyond Peralta Boulevard, with a combination of older buildings and newer development, such as Artist Walk, nearby. Between Peralta Boulevard and Central Avenue, an eclectic mix of buildings of various uses and ages are predominantly built up to the street, though the west side of the street contains older historic resources such as the Center Theater and Masonic Hall. To the rear of the site, expansive parking lots abut the narrow alignment of Jason Way, which consists of a row of single-family houses on the eastern side only. Parish Avenue provides access from Fremont Boulevard to Peralta Boulevard, and contains a mix of institutional and residential uses. Peralta Boulevard contains a mix of low-rise commercial buildings and residential uses at its curve that brings the road into alignment with the railroad tracks to form a right angle at Fremont Boulevard.

 

Prior City Council Review

On October 3, 2017, City Council considered various options for disposition of former Fire Station No. 6 with respect to this project proposal, and provided direction to staff to plan for sale of the Rose Court property to the developer, but to rehabilitate Fire Station No. 6, including completing tenant improvements enabling the building to be repurposed for a public use contingent with the project getting approved. The City Council determined that the City should retain ownership and manage the new use, and the developer was to provide parking. This action also allowed the City to consider sale of the rehabilitated building at a later date should the City decide it does not wish to retain ownership for a public purpose. At the time, staff and the applicant anticipated that retention of Fire Station No. 6 would avoid a potential significant impact to the register-eligible resource. Subsequently, on October 17, 2017, it was determined through a Historic Resource Impact Analysis prepared by a qualified consultant that retention of the structure and incorporation into the project would still result in a substantial adverse change to the register-eligible resource because of the demolition of the adjacent structures and the planned height and scale of the new construction. As a result, pursuant to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the City prepared an Environmental Impact Report for the project to study the potential impacts of both retention and demolition of the fire station, and of the overall project.

 

Historical Architectural Review Board Hearing

Pursuant to Fremont Municipal Code (FMC) Section 18.175.040, HARB considered the proposal on January 17, 2019, because of the potential for the project to affect a register-eligible resource. Approximately 15 community members spoke during the public hearing, both in support of retaining the fire station and of removing it.  Those that supported retaining the fire station thought that the massing of the adjacent proposed project should be reduced and stepped back from the register-eligible resource, while those that thought the fire station should be removed expressed dislike for its appearance and reasons for infeasibility of reusing it. Based upon findings in FMC Section 18.175.220 (Process for review – Standards and findings for approval or recommendation) and FMC Section 18.175.300 (Demolition of register/potential register resources), HARB recommended that the City Council retain and rehabilitate the fire station and reduce the massing and step back the proposed building in proximity to the northwestern edge of the structure. HARB also commented on the architecture, expressing a general preference for lighter colors and fewer gothic architectural elements on the façade. In response to HARBs recommendation, staff requested that the applicant prepare an exhibit demonstrating the appearance of such a reduced massing alternative with an alternative architectural scheme, which is attached as Informational Enclosure 2. Draft HARB Minutes will be provided prior to the Planning Commission Hearing when they are available.

 

Evolution of Plan Development

During several iterations of project review, staff and the applicant worked to ensure the proposed project addresses considerations that include, but are not limited to: 1) a site and building design meeting the standards of the TC-P zoning district and TOD Overlay; 2) options with respect to the disposition of the Fire Station No. 6 structure central to the project’s frontage on Fremont Boulevard; and 3) architecture that separates the massing of the mixed-use structure with a main-street image from the townhouses that form a transition to the residential uses to the east.

 

PROCEDURE FOR TONIGHT’S HEARING

 

The Planning Commission is charged with the following:

 

1.                  Review and consider a recommendation to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (Exhibit “A”), prepared and circulated in accordance with the requirements of CEQA.

 

2.                  Review and consider a recommendation allowing alteration of Fire Station No. 6 in accordance with findings in FMC Section 18.175.220.

 

3.                  Review and consider a recommendation to approve a Discretionary Design Review Permit, Vesting Tentative Tract Map, and Private Street based on findings specified in Fremont Municipal Code (FMC) Sections 18.235.060, 18.45.040, 17.20.200, and 17.25.040, and Government Code Section 66474, to permit the development of a mixed-use project as defined herein.

 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

 

Planning Commission is being asked to consider following entitlements, and make a recommendation to the City Council:

 

1.                  Discretionary Design Review Permit, to determine site plan and architectural consistency with applicable zoning regulations and design guidelines.

 

2.                  Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 8438, to subdivide the site into townhouse-style condominiums and mixed-use commercial and apartment lots.

 

3.                  Construction of a private street to provide local access to the parking garage, surface parking and individual garages of the residential units.

 

4.                  Removal and mitigation for 23 protected trees pursuant to the City’s Tree Preservation Ordinance.

 

Site Plan and Architecture

The site spans the entire northeastern block of Fremont Boulevard between Peralta Boulevard and Parish Avenue and includes all property back to Jason Way with the exception of two adjacent commercial parcels fronting Peralta Boulevard. Only one commercial driveway is proposed to be centrally located on the primary mixed-use frontage on Fremont Boulevard, while the primary residential access is via a system of driveways on Parish Avenue and a newly-widened (from 12 feet to 20 feet) alignment of Jason Way connecting to Peralta. There are two types of buildings proposed on the site—mixed-use building(s) of between three and four stories tall containing ground-floor retail and residential apartments above, and three-story townhouses arranged in rows.

 

Mixed-Use Building Layout for Original Project (including former Fire Station No. 6)

If the project were to include retention of Fire Station No. 6, the fire station would be set between two mixed-use buildings between three and four stories tall stretching from Peralta Boulevard near its intersection with Fremont Boulevard down to Parish Avenue along Fremont Boulevard, which buildings would include a total of 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor and 64 apartment units above, and a subterranean parking garage. A landscaped pedestrian pathway and open driveway next to the fire station would connect Fremont Boulevard to Jason Way. Former Fire Station No. 6 would be rehabilitated in place in a way most consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. Based upon HARB’s recommendation to reduce the massing of the building to the northwest of Fire Station No. 6, the applicant prepared a graphic, attached to this report as Informational Enclosure 2, that shows the Reduced Massing Alternative of the Original Project. In this version, the upper floors on the front of the adjacent building are pulled back away from Fire Station No. 6. Units have been reduced in size to achieve minimum density and meet the necessary parking while maintaining the original building and parking garage configuration, with a resultant total of 81 units (44 one-bedroom units and 37 two-bedroom units).

 

Mixed-Use Building Layout for Applicant Preferred Project (demolishing former Fire Station No. 6)

The project as described above would be similar, with the exception that the demolition of former Fire Station No. 6 would make way for an addition to the two mixed-use buildings on the frontage of the site that would connect them together, adding 1,000 square feet of retail and 29 apartments, for a total of 26,000 square feet of retail and 93 apartment units above, with a covered vehicular entry in place of the open driveway, and a covered pedestrian connection alongside that driveway. Additional parking would be located in a connected garage underneath the extension to the mixed-use building and driveway.

 

Mixed-Use Building Design

The mixed-use building(s) would exhibit a mix of features of the Mediterranean and Spanish Revival architectural styles, and would primarily be three stories in height (four stories on Peralta Boulevard). Alternating sections would be capped by octagonal and hipped roofs with slightly overhanging eaves. Windows and openings would be primarily arched on the uppermost and lower floors, and rectangular on intervening floors. The ground-story facades would feature stone veneer cladding with evenly spaced openings and multi-lite storefront glazing. Portions of the second floor would project slightly beyond the retail storefronts, with exposed wood joists beneath the cantilever. Cladding of upper floors would alternate between cement plaster and cedar shingles. Arched wood shutters would adorn the upper windows, along with decorative tile mosaics, terraces, roof spires, and brackets at eaves. Units within the structure would range in size between one and two bedrooms. Informational Enclosure 2, prepared in response to HARB comments, presents an alternative softened architectural scheme with lighter colors, revised stonework, more segmental arches, and reduced massing.

 

Design of Townhouses and Rear of the Site

There are 72 three-story townhouses proposed within the easterly portion of the site. Each unit would be between approximately 1,800 and 2,100 square feet with between three and four bedrooms. There are 22 structures of two to five attached townhouses proposed, with plentiful pedestrian connections and landscape buffers strategically located between buildings. These buildings would feature symmetrical façades in the front, with rear garage entrances and second floor balconies. The buildings would feature stucco siding with stone veneer cladding and shingle, tile, and wood accents. The townhouses would be arranged in rows perpendicularly to the driveway parallel with Fremont Boulevard along the rear of the mixed-use building(s), fronting only on Parish Avenue and the easternmost portion of the site’s frontage along Peralta Avenue, with the ends of rows separated by five streets and four paseos abutting Jason Way. At the curve of Jason Way, the rows of townhouses adjust to parallel Peralta Boulevard, and the resultant triangular area central to the project site and behind the location of the fire station is proposed to be the open space area, with a community room, gym, tot lot, pool, and clubhouse. This portion of the development may remain the same regardless of whether the former fire station is retained or demolished.

 

Former Fire Station No. 6

Former Fire Station No. 6 is a two-story structure set at the front of a narrow parcel centrally on the block of Fremont Boulevard between Peralta Boulevard and Parish Avenue. Under the Original Project, the proposed rehabilitation of Fire Station No. 6 would adjust the property lines to the existing building’s footprint (a portion of the building is on private property) and generally open the building’s interior for use in a way that currently would not be possible because of the narrow parcel and property ownership patterns. The structure would be seismically retrofitted and converted to a permitted use within the TC-P zoning district. Existing cement plaster on all façades would be retained and repainted. At the south façade, the pedestrian metal door and non-original metal roll-up garage door would be replaced. The transom window and ribbon windows would be retained. On the north façade, the original metal stair at the northeast corner would be removed to eliminate conflict with the location of the proposed drive aisle, and a new painted metal stair would be placed in the opposite rear corner paralleling the eastern façade of the building. The rear metal canopy would be removed. New landscaping and a Roman brick veneer would wrap the southeast corner of the fire station, mirroring the original feature at the southwest corner. Two sets of metal-framed storefront sliding doors would be placed on the center of the southeastern façade, separated by a concrete pilaster. These doors would provide access from the public courtyard where access was previously prohibited by fire code due to the location of the property line. On the façade, a vertical trellis feature would be installed, with public seating in a landscaped area around a focal point.

 

Plans showing the above-described project, including both the Original Project and Applicant Preferred Project, are included in Exhibit B—Project Plans, with the reduced massing alternative shown on Informational Enclosure 2.

 

PROJECT ANALYSIS

 

General Plan Conformance

The subject site has a General Plan land use designation of Commercial – Town Center, within which both commercial and mixed-use developments are permitted uses. Mixed-use projects with ground-floor commercial and residential uses are subject to a maximum FAR of 1.25. FAR increases up to 2.5 are permitted where a TOD overlay has been applied. Minimum FARs of 0.5 minimum and minimum residential densities of 30 units/acre also apply when the site is located within the TOD overlays. This mixed-use project would comply with the minimum density and intensity required by the General Plan within the Centerville TOD overlay.

 

The following General Plan goal and policies of the Community Character and Community Plans Elements pertaining to historic preservation and building design are applicable to the project:

 

LAND USE POLICY 2-1.7 Becoming a More Transit-Oriented City – Plan for Fremont’s transition to a community that includes a mix of established lower-density neighborhoods and new higher-density mixed-use neighborhoods with access to high-quality transit.  Transit-oriented development (TOD) – or the placement of higher density uses around transit facilities – should be recognized as the key strategy for accommodating Fremont’s growth the next 25 years.

 

Land Use Policy 2-1.11: Infill Emphasis – Focus new development on underutilized or “skipped over” sites that are already served by infrastructure and public streets.  Strongly discourage, and where appropriate prohibit, the conversion of open space or underdeveloped land on the fringes of Fremont to urban uses.

 

Land Use Goal 2-2: Directing Change – Growth and development that is orderly and efficient, leverages public investment, ensures the continued availability of infrastructure and public services, reduces adverse impacts on adjacent properties, and protects the natural environment.

 

LAND USE POLICY 2-3.8 Location of Higher Density Housing – Generally locate new higher density housing in Priority Development Areas and the TOD Overlay where there is good access to transit, proximity to local-serving commercial uses, and proximity to collector or arterial streets.  Conversely, the City should discourage the use of developable sites with these attributes for new low employee intensity or low value land uses.

 

Analysis: The project site is located within an existing town center area and would further the City’s General Plan policies that emphasize infill development in proximity to transit. Specifically, the project would locate mixed-use residential and commercial development with convenient access to the Centerville Train Station and Altamont Commuter Express routes, and pedestrian-oriented town center commercial uses. The proposed project would provide new housing opportunities and commercial space on an underutilized infill site where existing utilities and infrastructure adequately support such development.

 

COMMUNITY CHARACTER GOAL 4-6: Historic Preservation and Cultural Resources - Conservation and enhancement of Fremont’s historic sites, buildings, structures, objects, and landscapes into the 21st Century and beyond.

 

COMMUNITY CHARACTER POLICY 4-6.1: Protection of Historic Resources - Identify, preserve, protect and maintain buildings, structures, ob­jects, sites and districts which are reminders of past eras, events, and persons important in local, state, or national history.

 

COMMUNITY PLANS POLICY 11-3.3: Centerville Opportunity SitesCapitalize on the development opportunities presented by vacant and underutilized parcels in the Centerville area. Infill development should close gaps in the fabric of the community and make Centerville a more cohesive and memorable place, a “destination within Fremont. Whenever feasible, residential and commercial uses should be combined in new development to create a community that is active in the evening as well as the daytime, and to reduce the length of auto trips by placing shopping, housing, and workplaces in close proximity to each other

 

IMPLEMENTATION 11-3.3.B. Other Development Opportunities – Pursue other infill development opportunities in Centerville, including the site of former Fire Station #6.

 

Analysis: Historic resources enrich a community by providing it with a unique identity and connection to its past. If Planning Commission were to recommend that the City Council approve the demolition of Fire Station No. 6 and replace it with additional mixed-use development, such a project would closely follow the above language of the Centerville Community Plan in that removing the fire station would “pursue other infill development opportunities…including the site of former Fire Station #6.” A decision to retain and rehabilitate the fire station as an adaptively-reused historic resource would also achieve General Plan goals by way of creating a new mixed-use development consistent with the General Plan’s planned intensity and density for the area, and that which would be the result of the implementing zoning, with a project that would comply with five of the ten applicable Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. HARB recommended retention and rehabilitation of the fire station with reduced massing and stepping back of the proposed building in proximity to the northwestern edge of the structure.

 

COMMUNITY CHARACTER POLICY 4-3.7: Massing and Scale - Ensure that the massing and scale of new development, additions, and alterations reflects its context and compatibility with adjacent structures. Require transitions in scale where higher density development abuts lower density development. Overpowering contrasts in scale and height should be avoided by requiring taller buildings to step down or recess as they approach lower density areas. Privacy impacts on nearby side and back yards should be avoided through building design and orientation.

 

COMMUNITY CHARACTER POLICY 4-3.11: Well Designed Sites – Ensure that sites are designed in context and relationship to surrounding uses and landscapes; and that they include pedestrian connections with clear definition of building locations, parking lots, landscaped areas and other features included on the site. Ensure the street to building relationship is in context with the scale, setback, form and height of adjacent buildings.

 

COMMUNITY CHARACTER POLICY 4-2.3: Pedestrian Friendly Design – Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging, and where appropriate requiring, pedestrian-friendly design. As new projects are developed and as existing development is rehabilitated or updated, incorporate features that make it easier to travel through Fremont without a car. These features could include (but are not limited to) wider sidewalks, crosswalks or crosswalk signals, narrower streets or curb “bulb-outs” at intersections to minimize the distance a pedestrian must walk to cross a street, varied paving materials, window transparencies (to enhance the experience of walking down a street), street trees, landscaping, benches, and mid-block connections to reduce trip lengths.

Pedestrian friendly design treatments can be applied in all areas of the City, but are particularly appropriate in centers and employment districts and along corridors. The access and circulation needs of pedestrians should be a primary consideration in the design of streets, buildings, parking lots, and public spaces. Pedestrian routes should be designed to provide visual interest, safety, convenience, and comfort.

 

Analysis: The Original Project and Applicant Preferred Project alike propose a mixed-use development of moderate height that would be in compliance with the General Plan and zoning, that responds to the disparate perimeter adjacencies, and that connects to and improves existing vehicular and pedestrian access within a town center in close proximity to transit options. In particular, the pedestrian-oriented frontage of the site would encourage walking more than that development which currently exists, and the internal circulation would provide more connectivity than is typical within a development site.

 

Zoning Regulations

The subject property is located in the TC-P(TOD) (Town Center-Pedestrian with Transit Oriented Development Overlay) zoning district.  Multifamily residential development within a mixed-use project is governed with respect to lot, siting, architecture and site design for portions of the development not located along the commercial street frontage, and with respect to private and common open space, by the R-3 (Multifamily Residential) zoning district most similar in nature to the residential portion of the mixed-use project.  The following table illustrates how the proposed project would be consistent with both the TC-P (TOD) and R-3-35 development standards.

 

Development Standard

Zoning District Requirement and Other FMC Standards

Proposed Project (Original or Applicant Preferred, as noted)

Complies

Yes/No

 

Net Density (units per acre)

30 (minimum)

Original Project: 29.92 (rounds to 30)

Applicant Preferred Project: 35.8

Yes

Allowable Floor Area Ratio

2.5 (maximum)

1.25 (minimum)

Original Project: 1.35

Applicant Preferred Project: 1.42

Yes

Minimum Building Frontage

 

At least 50 percent of the buildings street facing façade must be built to within five feet of the street property line(s)

Fremont Boulevard:
-Original Project: 84 percent

-Applicant Preferred Project: 100 percent

 

Peralta Boulevard:
70 percent of commercial frontage

Yes

Minimum Lot Width

(feet)

None

Varies

Yes

Minimum Front Yard

 

None

None

Yes

Minimum Interior Side Yard Width

10 feet

 

10 feet

 

Yes

 

Minimum Rear Yard Depth

None

Varies

Yes

 

Minimum Paseo Width

20 feet

20 feet

Yes

Distance between windows of separate units on walls angled 90 degrees or less from each other

15 feet

15 feet, except windows within stairwells

Yes

Minimum ground floor height for commercial space, floor to second floor

16 feet

16 feet

Yes

 

Commercial Component

50 percent of the floor area on the portion of the ground floor within 50 feet of the street frontage.   The minimum depth of the commercial space shall be 50 feet.

Fremont Boulevard:
-Original Project: 84 percent

-Applicant Preferred Project: 100 percent

 

Commercial Depth on Fremont Blvd:

>50 feet

Yes

Lot Area Minimum (square feet)

None

Varies

Yes

Distance between parking or circulation areas and a public street right-of-way or private street easement (feet)

15 feet

26 feet

Yes

Maximum Building Height (feet)

65 feet

Mixed-use building:

39 to 47 feet to eave

63 feet to highest peak

 

Townhouses:

29 feet to eave

39 feet to highest peak

Yes

Common Open Space (square feet)

500 sf for first five units, 50 sf for each additional unit

 

-Original Project: 6,950 sf minimum

-Applicant Preferred Project:

8,500 sf minimum

-Original Project: 15,396 provided

-Applicant Preferred Project:

13,625 provided

 

Yes

Private Open Space

(square feet)

Balconies, decks, porches

a.      Minimum Area: 60 sf

b.      Minimum Interior Dimension: 6 feet

 

Balconies, decks, porches:

a.       Minimum Area: 60 sf

b.      Minimum Interior Dimension: 6 feet

Yes

Enclosed Storage Closet

100 cubic feet (cf) for each dwelling unit

100 cf minimum for each dwelling unit

Yes

 

As the table above shows, the project would conform to or exceed all minimum applicable TC-P, R-3-35 and TOD Overlay development standards.

 

Transportation Demand Management:

The project site is located within a TOD area with access to the Centerville Train Station and Altamont Commuter Express routes.  In addition, there are bus stops on Fremont Boulevard and Thornton Avenue within a quarter mile of the project site that provide access to four bus routes.  In accordance with the City’s TOD Ordinance, the project is required include at least one transportation demand management (TDM) measure to promote the use of alternatives to automobile travel, and reduce total vehicle trips and vehicle trips during peak hours through site design measures such as bicycle parking and storage infrastructure in excess of code requirements, notice boards providing information about local transit options, and initial move-in transit passes for residents.  In addition, the project is required to maintain participation in a TDM association supporting programs for enhanced transit ridership, biking, and walking, to the satisfaction of the Planning Manager or designee.  This requirement is addressed as a condition of approval.

 

Parking:

Pursuant to FMC Table 18.152.070 (TOD Overlay District Automobile Parking Standards), the residential component of the Applicant Preferred Project would require a minimum of 165 covered parking spaces with a maximum of 237 covered parking spaces and 36 guest parking spaces.  The commercial component would require a minimum of 52 parking spaces with a maximum of 78 parking spaces. As shown in the table below, the project would comply with the minimum and maximum automobile parking requirements and would provide sufficient parking to accommodate the need for each type of use by a combination of private garage spaces, parking garage spaces, open parking spaces, and bicycle and motorcycle parking spaces, as well as requirements for bicycle parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Development Standard

Requirement

Applicant Preferred Project

Complies?

 

Vehicle Parking

Mixed-use commercial

·         52 to 78 spaces (min/max)

 

 

 

Mixed–use multifamily residential

 

·         165 to 237 covered spaces plus 36 guest parking spaces (min/max)

 

 

Requirement

Residential:

Minimum - 1 covered per unit

Maximum - 1 covered per unit (2 for townhouses plus 0.5 guest parking spaces per unit)

Retail:

Minimum - 2 per 1,000 sf

Maximum - 3 per 1,000 sf

·         144 covered parking in townhouse garages

·         102covered parking in garage

·         44 open parking spaces*

·         10 motorcycle spaces

 

Total – 295 spaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*7 spaces for Fire Station use

Yes

 

 

Residential Bicycle Parking (units without private garage)

Long term = 2, plus 0.5 per unit

Short term = 4, plus 1 per 10 units

 

68 total

84 spaces

Yes

Nonresidential Bicycle Parking

Long term = 1, plus 5 percent of required automobile parking for tenants or occupants

Short term = 4, plus 5 percent of required automobile parking for visitors

2 long term and 10 short term  

Yes

EV Charging Stations

Commercial 10% of the nonresidential spaces

Multifamily 3% of the residential spaces

-6 spaces for non-residential

-3 EV charging spaces for the units in the mixed-use structure

-1 EV charging station in each townhouse garage

Yes

 

Affordable Housing:

Pursuant to the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO), the applicant has proposed a combination of provision of on-site below-market-rate (BMR) rental units and payment of affordable housing fees. The applicant proposes to provide ten below-market-rate rental units within the mixed-use building with five units affordable to low-income households and five units affordable to very-low income households in order to satisfy the affordable housing requirement for the 72 townhouse units. All on-site affordable units would be provided as two-bedroom units. The remainder of the affordable housing requirement for the units in the mixed-use building, under either the original, reduced massing, or applicant preferred project, would be satisfied through payment of affordable housing fees. The AHO specifies that payment of fees is an acceptable alternative to providing BMR units on-site with the project.  The final fee amount would be calculated based on the individual unit square footages with the fee in effect at the time of issuance of building permits.

 

The applicant has expressed an interest in providing additional affordable housing in the mixed-use building to accommodate other project(s) currently under review. Staff has indicated to the applicant that such a proposal would be subject to an alternative affordable housing proposal in conjunction with the project requiring the affordable units, which would be reviewed by City Council at a later time.

 

Design Analysis

The proposed project has been reviewed for consistency with the City’s Multifamily Design Guidelines and Citywide Design Guidelines.  Based on this review, staff has found that the project would meet many of the design objectives and principles that are provided in the guidelines to augment the basic requirements of the R-3 zoning district standards as further described below.

 

Multifamily Design Guidelines:

The project would be consistent with the following principles of the Multifamily Design Guidelines:

 

CONTEXT SENSITIVE DESIGN PRINCIPLE. The proposed buildings and site improvements, and would create a cohesive community setting that would be compatible with surrounding uses because the massing would be located in the front of the site away from existing single family homes.

 

SITE PLANNING & LAYOUT PRINCIPLE. The proposed site layout would include common open space areas and pedestrian pathways that would enhance safety, convenience, and social interaction among residents.

OPEN SPACE & LANDSCAPE PRINCIPLE.  The proposed project would provide usable private and common open space areas and amenities and include plantings that would provide a variety of colors and textures appropriate to the proposed project.

 

BUILDING DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE PRINCIPLE. The proposed buildings embody quality design elements and materials and include articulated entryways and architectural elements to provide variation in building massing.

 

SUSTAINABILITY PRINCIPLE. The proposed buildings would conform to current building code requirements for energy efficiency.

 

Citywide Design Guidelines:

The commercial portion of the project would substantially conform to the Commercial and Mixed-Use Site Planning section of the Citywide Design Guidelines as described below:

 

Design Rule 3.38R: Commercial space shall be located so as to provide continuity of the commercial presence along a street frontage within the context of surrounding development or anticipated future commercial development. 

 

Design Rule 3.39R: Commercial space shall be oriented towards the street and major pedestrian or plaza areas.

 

Design Rule 3.41R: Provide built-in flexibility to allow conversion from one commercial use to another and to ensure that the commercial space adequate for retail is also adequate for a variety of other uses.  Elements such as the following shall be incorporated into the design:

 

·         Adequate ventilation and mechanical equipment to allow conversion to a variety of uses, such as a retail store or eating establishment.

·         Minimum of 16 feet floor to ceiling heights on the ground floor.

·         The depth of commercial tenant spaces should be predominantly 50 feet.

 

The commercial component of this mixed-use project would be primarily located along the Fremont Boulevard frontage and oriented towards the street.  The commercial space would be approximately 50 feet deep and would have a 16-foot tall ceiling height on the ground floor, which is intended to accommodate a variety of commercial uses. Condition of approval B-1 is included in order to ensure the commercial spaces appropriately relate to the primary pedestrian frontage.

 

Site Planning:

As previously noted, with the exception of a small triangular site on Peralta Boulevard, the site comprises an entire City block within the existing streets of Fremont Boulevard, Peralta Boulevard, Parish Avenue, and Jason Way. The plan would place a commercial/residential mixed-use building at the edge of the right-of-way on Fremont Boulevard and the most commercial frontage of Peralta Boulevard, and then transition to more residential, but still substantial, townhouses toward the east. At the curve of Jason Way, the rows of townhouses adjust to parallel Peralta Boulevard, and the resultant triangular area central to the project site and behind the location of the fire station is proposed to be the open space area, with a community room, gym, tot lot, pool, and clubhouse.

 

Context/Scale:

The area bounded by the perimeter streets is zoned TC-P and intended for intense uses befitting the TOD Overlay, with a main-street feel. The project would remove a mix of low-lying buildings and address the main street with a mixed-use building with architectural character, and incorporate a density of uses that would drive substantial pedestrian activity in the area. As previously noted, commercial uses would be required to have their primary entrances on the main streets of Fremont Boulevard or Peralta Boulevard. The buildings would fit within the height limit established by the zoning, and their design has been reviewed for historical architectural conformance and recommended by HARB. As previously noted, HARB recommended retention and rehabilitation of the fire station with reduced massing and stepping back of the proposed mixed-use building in proximity to the northwestern edge of the structure as depicted in Informational Enclosure 2.

 

Architecture:

As previously noted, the mixed-use building(s) would feature a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish Revival architectural styles. Consistent with the Citywide Design Guidelines, the building would feature varied massing, vertically-proportioned fenestrations, a significant amount of articulation on all four elevations, visually-interesting roofline treatments, inviting storefronts at the street level with transparent window/door systems and canopies, and a strong architectural presence oriented toward the public realm on Fremont Boulevard. The townhouses that transition the density of the site toward the east would feature symmetrical facades, with rear garage entrances and second floor balconies. The buildings would feature stucco siding with stone veneer cladding and shingle, tile, and wood accents.

 

Landscape/Open Space:

The project site currently has 23 existing City-protected trees that would be removed as part of the project. A total of 145 new 24-inch box trees would be planted within the project site in conjunction with the proposed project, which would meet the requirements of the Tree Preservation Ordinance. A variety of low water usage shrubs and groundcovers would be planted within the site.

 

Each residence would have a balcony with at least 60 square feet of private open space.  The project would also feature over 15,000 square feet of common open space located in four areas—a central outdoor open space area with an amenity room, landscaped area, gym, tot lot, and clubhouse; a separate outdoor covered deck area, and two separate community rooms within the buildings on the frontage.

 

Street Right-of-Way Improvements:

The project would be required to install complete street improvements along the project frontages in accordance with the Street Rights-of-Way and Improvements Ordinance.

 

Grading and Drainage:

The existing topography of the site is generally flat with a gentle slope towards Fremont Boulevard.  Elevations range between approximately 55 feet above mean sea level (AMSL) at the eastern end of the site near Jason Way to 50 feet AMSL at the western end of the site adjacent to Fremont Boulevard.  Project grading is relatively minimal and, with the exception of excavation necessary for the construction of the underground garage(s), would be limited to that grading necessary to create building foundations, set the height of road beds for vehicular access, and to provide positive drainage within the site and direct flow to stormwater management facilities and to exterior storm drains. A total of 16,000 cubic yards of cut and 4,000 cubic yards of fill would be required. Grading would be subject to review and approval by the City Engineer prior to building permit issuance.

 

 

 

 

 

Urban Runoff Clean Water Program:

The Municipal Regional Stormwater NPDES Permit (MRP) requires all new and redevelopment projects to incorporate measures to prevent pollutants from being conveyed in stormwater runoff and into the public storm drain system.  This project is required to comply with the MRP by incorporating Best Management Practices (BMPs) to achieve these requirements to the extent practicable.

 

Findings for approval

 

In order to approve the Discretionary Design Review Permit, Vesting Tentative Tract Map, and Private Street, the project must be found consistent with the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.  Based on the above analysis, staff finds that the proposed project would be in conformance with the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance and recommends the following findings:

 

General Plan and Zoning Conformance Finding:

 

(a)              Find PLN2017-00229, including the Reduced Massing Alternative of the Original Project, is consistent with the General Plan, Community Plan, and Zoning Ordinance as shown in Exhibit “C” (Project Plans) based upon Conditions in Exhibit “B.”

 

Discretionary Design Review Permit Findings

Pursuant to FMC Section 18.235.060, the following findings must be made by the Planning Commission in order to approve a Discretionary Design Review Permit:

 

(b)              The proposed project is consistent with the general plan, any applicable community or specific plan, planning and zoning regulations, and any adopted design rules and guidelines.

 

              Analysis: The proposed mixed-use project would conform to the Fremont General Plan policies and goals, and development standards of the TC-P zoning district and TOD Overlay as enumerated in the staff report.  The project would also meet or exceed the design rules contained within the Multifamily Design Guidelines and the Citywide Design Guidelines including but not limited to site and building design, open space and landscape and context sensitive design.

 

(c)               The project’s architectural, site, and landscape design will not unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of adjacent development nor be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare.

 

              Analysis: The area surrounding the project site along Fremont Boulevard is zoned TC-P and located within the TOD Overlay.  The proposed project would not interfere with the use and enjoyment of adjacent developments, nor would it be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare in that the proposed project would be compatible in scale and would encourage neighborhood compatibility. The project adequately provides a transition of scale that is compatible with the surrounding development, while providing the commercial component required by the TC-P zoning district and TOD Overlay.

 

(d)              Where HARB review is required, the proposed project is consistent with the applicable standards and findings required in Chapters 18.135 and 18.175.

 

 

Analysis: As noted herein and as contained in the HARB report dated January 17, 2019, HARB recommended retention and rehabilitation of the fire station and reducing the massing and stepping back the proposed mixed-use building in proximity to the northwestern edge of the structure based upon findings and subject to conditions.

 

 

Mixed-Use Development Findings

Pursuant to FMC Section 18.45.040(d) (Mixed-use development requirements), the following findings must be made prior to approving a mixed-use project:

 

(e)              The development’s site layout, building(s), and land uses integrate into the existing community, the layout and buildings create an appropriate human scale and an efficiently functioning infrastructure, and the amenities serving the residents of the development function better as a whole than what could be provided in a non-mixed-use project.

 

Analysis: The development would include a commercial mixed-use building adjacent to the main-street environment, and would step down the intensity to the rear of the site in order to fit the project into the surrounding neighborhood. The plan contains a unified circulation system that provides for convenient access and parking for the commercial uses in a location between the two types of buildings. Pedestrians may connect through the site in multiple connected ways, and the architecture would be complementary throughout. Common spaces and pathways are blended into the overall site plan in a cohesive way.

 

(f)                The development complies with the General Plan and Citywide Design Guidelines with regard to pedestrian orientation, provision of open space, and appropriate provision of parking.

 

              Analysis: The proposed project would locate residential and commercial development in a TOD area with convenient access to the Centerville Train Station, Altamont Commuter Express routes, AC Transit bus routes and surrounding commercial uses.  The project design and site layout would integrate into the existing neighborhood and create a compatible pedestrian scale. The project would provide sufficient parking, open space, and pedestrian amenities.

 

Vesting Tentative Tract Map Findings

Based on the analysis contained in the staff report, and pursuant to FMC Section 17.20.200 and Government Code Section 66474, the proposed Vesting Tentative Tract Map is in conformance with the General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and the Subdivision Map Act, and none of the following findings can be made:

 

(g)              The map fails to meet or perform one or more of the requirements or conditions imposed by the Subdivision Map Act or Title 17 of the Municipal Code (Subdivisions);

 

(h)              The proposed subdivision, together with the provisions for its design and improvements, is not consistent with applicable general and specific plans;

 

(i)                 The site is not physically suitable for the type or proposed density of development;

 

(j)                The design of the subdivision or the proposed improvements is likely to cause substantial environmental damage or substantially and avoidably injure fish or wildlife or their habitat;

 

(k)              The design of the subdivision or the type or improvements is likely to cause serious public health problems; and

 

(l)                 The design of the subdivision or the type of improvements will conflict with easements, acquired by the public at large, for access through or use of property within the proposed subdivision.  In this connection, the commission may approve a map if it finds that alternate easements, for access or for use, will be provided, and that these will be substantially equivalent to ones previously acquired by the public. This subsection shall apply only to easements of record or to easements established by judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction and no authority is hereby granted to the commission to determine that the public at large has acquired easements for access through or use of property within the proposed subdivision.

 

In addition, the following finding should be made pursuant to Government Code Section 66473.5:

 

(m)            The proposed subdivision, together with the provisions for its design and improvement, is consistent with the general plan or any specific plan for the reasons stated in this staff report.

 

Private Street Finding

Pursuant to FMC Section 17.25.040, the following finding must be made to approve a Private Street:

 

(n)              The most logical development of the land requires private street access. 

 

Analysis: The land being subdivided is currently designated Town Center in the General Plan and TC-P with a TOD Overlay in the Zoning Ordinance.  The City’s standard street section for a public residential cul-de-sac in order to serve the rear townhomes would require two travel lanes, and on-street parking, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks with landscape planters on both sides of the street.  If the applicant were required to construct a full public street section to this standard, the amount of developable land remaining on the property would not be sufficient for development prescribed by the Land Use Element of the General Plan.   Allowing private access to the site would enable the development of the site at an intensity that is within the range prescribed by the General Plan.

 

Tree Removal Finding

Pursuant to FMC Section 18.215.070, the following finding must be made to allow the removal of trees that are subject to protection under the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance:

 

(o)        The proposed removal of 23 protected trees would be consistent with the Tree Protection Ordinance because removal is necessary to enable reasonable and conforming use of the property or to achieve a superior project, and the trees cannot be preserved by a reasonably required project redesign.

 

Analysis:  As discussed in the staff report, the project would require the removal of 23 regulated (protected) non-fruit bearing trees with a minimum six-inch DBH located in various areas of the site. The proposed tree removal would be consistent with the City’s Tree Preservation Ordinance because removal is necessary to enable reasonable and conforming use of the property and to achieve a superior project, and the trees cannot be preserved by a reasonably required project redesign. The removal of the trees would not adversely affect the appearance of the subject property as new trees and landscaping would be installed.  This project would adequately comply with the ordinance-required mitigation for the loss of the trees by planting an equivalent number of new trees of at least 24-inch box size as part of the 145 new 24-inch box trees proposed.

 

CITY FEES

 

This project would be subject to citywide Development Impact Fees. These would include fees for fire protection, capital facilities, traffic facilities, park facilities, and park dedication in-lieu.  All applicable fees would be calculated and paid at the fee rates in effect at the time of building permit issuance.  The applicant has indicated a preference to pay Affordable Housing Fees for a portion of their respective affordability requirement. The applicant may elect to seek approval of a different affordable housing alternative if such proposal is requested and approved prior to issuance of the first building permit for the project.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

An initial study prepared for the project determined that there were potentially significant impacts, both with retention/rehabilitation and demolition of Fire Station No. 6, with respect to substantial adverse change to the historical resource, and exposure of residents to noise. A Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was, therefore, prepared and circulated from September 19, 2018, through November 5, 2018, for the project pursuant to the requirements of CEQA. The EIR included mitigation measures to address the stated impacts to historical resources through archival documentation, an interpretative display, and in the case of demolition of the fire station only, architectural salvage. However, as previously noted, even with the mitigation measures, the impacts to the register-eligible resource would be Significant and Unavoidable.  To reduce the exposure of residents to noise, a mitigation measure was required to increase sound attenuation to reduce average sound levels within the structures. The City received several comments related to project design, parking, and historic context with adjacent properties, and responded to these through a Final EIR released on December 19, 2018. The applicant has agreed to implement mitigation measures that would reduce all other potentially-significant impacts to a less-than-significant level. All applicable mitigation measures are included as conditions of approval.  Because impacts to the register-eligible historic resource and noise impacts would remain Significant and Unavoidable despite mitigation, in order to approve the proposed project, the City Council would need to adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations.

 

It should be noted that the Final EIR includes an alternative (the Reduced Massing Alternative) that is very similar to the recommendation made by HARB at their meeting on January 17, 2019. This alternative was identified as the environmentally superior alternative and while it would reduce potential impacts to the register-eligible resource, the Final EIR concluded the impacts would remain Significant and Unavoidable.

 

PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMENT

 

Public hearing notification is applicable. Notices were mailed to all owners and occupants of property located within 300 feet of the site. The notices were mailed on February 1, 2019.  Public Hearing Notice was published by the Tri-City Voice on January 29, 2019. 

 

City staff encourages applicants to conduct outreach to residents by holding community meetings to present their projects prior to going forward to a public hearing. The applicant held a community meeting for the project on January 10, 2017, sending out invitations to nearby residents and soliciting input on the plan. In addition, the applicant reached out to the business community through the Centerville Business and Community Association (CBCA), as well as coordinating with individual tenants that would need to be relocated. See Informational Enclosure 3 for correspondence received through the date of finalization of this report.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

1.                  Hold public hearing; and

 

Recommend that the City Council:

 

2.                  Certify the Final Environmental Impact Report as shown in Exhibit “A,” and find this action reflects the independent judgment of the City of Fremont; and

 

3.                  Approve the Reduced Massing Alternative of the Original Project, making the findings below.

 

a.                  Find that the proposed rehabilitation of the former fire station is not consistent with the findings in FMC Section 18.175.220 in that the proposed rehabilitation of the structure, and the proposed project as a whole, would only be compliant with six out of the ten applicable Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Resources, would not be compatible with the period of significance and the character-defining features of the historic resource, the height, scale, and massing of the proposed adjacent development would be incompatible with the resource, and the proposed project would adversely affect or otherwise compromise important architectural features as described herein and in the staff report to the Historical Architectural Review Board dated January 17, 2019.

 

b.                  Find that, notwithstanding the failure of the project to meet the findings for rehabilitation of the fire station, because the findings in FMC Section 18.175.300 can be made for demolition of the fire station, and because relocation would not be feasible or desirable because no other setting would be appropriate, and relocation would increase the cost of rehabilitation further, with likely similar issues that would be applicable to adaptive reuse in a new location, find that historic resource preservation is best served if the fire station remains in place and is rehabilitated in a way that retains as much of its historical value as can be retained if incorporated into the project, under FMC Section 18.175.200, which states that it is the goal of the City to retain historic resources in their original context and setting, and that demolition should be considered as a last resort. Therefore, the City prefers to retain the structure notwithstanding the reduced historical value because that reduced historical value is preferred over total loss. Furthermore, addition of a setback to the Fire Station’s north side and reduction of the massing in proximity to the Fire Station will result in improved architectural compatibility between the proposed structures and the Fire Station, and that the reduced massing would be environmentally superior.