The Morgan Hill City Council unanimously approved the design review permit for the residential and commercial project that will reroute Depot Street through what is now the Community and Cultural Center parking lot.
The project, proposed by Latala Group, will be a mixed-use space of townhouses and office buildings on what is now the Hale Lumberyard site. When the street is realigned, the parking lot at the community center will not lose any spots, but 72 out of the 240 spots will be reduced in size for compact vehicles.
The permit calls for “40 three-story attached townhome style units and one mixed-use building with office space below and nine condominiums on the second and third floor,” according to a city staff report.
A review permit would not typically need to be brought to the council for approval, but city staff said that because the project impacts the downtown, it required approval from the planning commission and elected city council; both unanimously approved the permit.
Construction is not expected to start until after the summer of 2020 and is planned to be completed within a year.
“The proposed alignment divides the CCC parking lot into two lots, north and south, and is engineered as a curvilinear roadway to prevent speeding. The CCC parking lots will be restriped and reconfigured to achieve no net loss of parking,” the staff report states.
“The realigned Depot Street will enhance pedestrian connectivity by providing detached sidewalks between Fifth Street and East Dunne Avenue and provides a secondary pathway from Depot Street to East Dunne Avenue,” the report continues.
The realignment has been planned for several years. At the current intersection of Depot Street and East Dunne Avenue, motorists can only turn right from Depot; drivers have to make an awkward zig-zag maneuver to traverse East Dunne to make a u-turn or left onto Church Street.
Morgan Hill’s General Plan through 2035 calls for rerouting Depot Street on the southeast corner of downtown, through the Community and Cultural Center, and connecting Church Street.
The reasons the city outlined for rerouting Depot Street had to do with safety concerns and creating more distance between traffic and the Union Pacific Railroad line.
In the project’s development agreement, Latala Group committed to 10 percent below market rate housing, along with $135,828 paid as an in-lieu fee contribution that will go toward the city’s housing fund.
Some of the council members said they had previously been concerned about the project but were happy with how the plans had turned out.
“I’m very happy to see the culmination of all of our comments being put into this plan,” said Mayor Rich Constantine. “I, like many of my colleagues, was very skeptical about how this was going to work.”
City staff said the community center parking lot would be closed for a week or two for re-striping and that during construction, 56 of the 240 spots will not be available. The council discussed the possibility of not allowing overnight parking in the community center lot to ensure it was not used by residents of the Hale townhomes.