The developer of two proposed downtown apartment projects wants to use exemptions in voter-approved development rules and will take the case to Redlands City Council.
On Tuesday, September 28, the planning committee unanimously recommended that council approve the requests. However, the wording has been changed so that the exemption applies to properties on Eureka Street rather than projects.
Both sought to use the “development directly related to the proposed Metrolink stations” exemption described in the U measurement.
Approved by voters in 1997, the Measure U slow-growth initiative imposes restrictions on development, including fees to mitigate impacts on infrastructure and services; prohibit the increase in admissible residential densities; and demand projects to make sure they don’t increase traffic.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Conrad Guzkowski, chairman of the planning committee, said he saw “a number of red flags” in the initial suggestion that the committee approve exemptions for projects. The projects are not very advanced in the planning process and will come back for approval at a later date.
The first exemption from the U measure for the nearby Redlands Mall site arrived earlier this year, but was only approved after much discussion. Guzkowski said on Tuesday it was clear what needed to be considered was how the redevelopment fit into the overall picture.
“We weren’t acting on a specific project, but we were really looking at how the idea of the redevelopment of this shopping center, as it was at least described to us, how it fit into the property and its location, its relevance and proximity, and relationship to the downtown public transport infrastructure which is under development, ”he said.
He said he struggled not to give the impression of project approval, while being “true to the U measure, and encouraging development to take place in the city, particularly on properties that are we despair, at least we feel strongly… have to be developed in a new way to move forward.
The wording was therefore changed to approve the exemption of the property instead of the project.
The projects, by developer VantageOne Real Estate Investments, LLC, are both located on Eureka Street: Redlands City Center at the northwest corner with Brookside Avenue and The Grand at the northeast corner with Redlands Boulevard.
The City Center project offers 138 apartments, parking lots and three catering buildings on three acres that were once the former Safety Hall, the City Council Chamber and a San Bernardino County courthouse. The project’s environmental plans and documents are expected to be back before the commission and council in four to six months.
The Grand Project offers 149 apartments, parking lots, private and public open spaces and more on the 1.5 acre site of the former McEwen’s Furniture building. No timeline has been given for this project.
“Measure U does not provide specific advice regarding the interpretation of what is meant by ‘directly related to Metrolink stations’,” senior planner Sean Riley told the panel.
Staff used two criteria to assess the proposed station exemption requests.
Riley said the project site must be within a quarter of a mile of a transit station and have a clear pedestrian path to the station; and the project must provide at least 20 residential units per acre.
Those criteria, Riley said, are consistent with the goals identified in a previous board resolution. In 2012, a council resolution states that “the increase in density around passenger train stations facilitates pedestrian areas” and supports local shops and restaurants as well as rail traffic.
Richard O’Donnell, who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, said he did not think the project was directly linked to the stations and that approving the exemption would not be fair to them. voters.
Commissioner Karah Shaw said she would like to see staff better connect the dots on how projects or properties can be determined to be related to stations.
More explanation could also help clarify things for the public, she said.
“I understand the intention and totally agree with it,” she said. “What I also understand is why people would watch this and not understand why it qualifies.”
Commissioner Steven Frasher said that by approving the first exemption for the nearby shopping center site proposal, the commission “set a precedent that this area falls under the 2D provision of the U measure,” which exempts development linked to stations.
Public transit is an investment in many areas such as quality of life, Guzkowski said. It offers alternatives to modes of transport, housing, lifestyles and access to employment.
“It is for these reasons that I think we can easily make the conclusions here, in the absence of a project, focusing on the property, its proximity and its location,” Guzkowski said. “Yes, I think there is a symbiosis between this project and its potential for future development and public transport in the city center.
The board will make the final decision at a later date.