ALAMEDA -- The Planning Board has turned down a request from a developer that would have set the stage for a possible restaurant and brewery to open at a former car dealership on Park Street, saying it did not want to approve a use for the site before tenants were actually secured.
But the board did approve some changes Monday to the project in the 1700 block of Park Street, including allowing outdoor dining and calling for bike racks in front.
Property owner Bill Phua was hoping the board would modify the October 2009 resolution approving his project at the former Cavanaugh Motors so that a restaurant and a brewery or winery could operate at the site. Phua also wanted permission for the businesses to stay open until 1 a.m.
Board member John Knox White, however, said he did not want to give what he called a "blanket variance" in anticipation of a restaurant or brewery and then be surprised with another type of business opening.
Much of the construction has already been done on the project, which consists of two new buildings and a remodel of the former car dealership, as well as a new parking lot behind the buildings on Buena Vista Avenue.
Along with allowing a restaurant and brewery, Phua wanted the board to remove special conditions that the city imposed over parking, including a requirement to provide transit passes for people who end up working in the buildings. The board upheld the requirement, however, despite Phua adjusting his plan to have more parking spaces.
The board also called for any trash containers to be located away from nearby homes, which board members said would be an issue regardless of what businesses open at the site.
"There's going to be packaging and all kinds of stuff," board member David Burton said. "There's going to be a significant amount of trash that has to go somewhere."
Phua's proposal called for the restaurant to be located on the ground floor of the two-story building at 1700 Park St. on the corner of Clement Avenue. Offices are still planned for the second story.
The brewery or wine business would be located at the rear of 1708 Park St., or what was the former automobile service area when the building housed a car dealership. A wellness center is proposed for the front of the building, or the former car showroom with its floor-to-ceiling windows.
The new single-story building at 1718 Park St. was suggested for the tavern or a tasting room under the recent proposal.
Andrew Thomas, the city's planning services manager, told the board that the half-block where the project is located has been vacant since 2009 and that city officials supported the conditional use permit that would have cleared the way for the suggested businesses.
Burton and other board members noted that some aspects of the construction, such as the window design, do not match what city officials initially approved. This undermines trust, they said, and made them less likely to approve a use for the site without knowing details about a specific business.
Work on the property comes as city officials are moving to revitalize the neighborhood, which is near the Park Street Bridge and considered a "gateway" to the city linking downtown with Oakland and Interstate 880.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.- com/Peter_Hegarty.