HAYWARD -- A developer wants to build 60 senior apartments on a busy four-lane major downtown thoroughfare that feeds into the city's one-way traffic loop, and the location, parking and access have some neighbors concerned.

The four-story building at 818 A St. would be half a block west of Mission Boulevard, where A Street becomes one-way, and across the street from traffic spilling out from the Lucky Supermarket shopping center.

The proposal for a four-story building at 808 A St. goes before the Planning Commission on Thursday. It would include 6,000 square feet devoted to management offices and retail space on the ground floor, with the apartments above that.

City staff has recommended approval, saying the senior project would be an attractive addition to downtown, is close to BART and retail outlets, and would add to Hayward's stock of senior housing.

Ray Baker, who owns a three-story building next to the site, said it's not a good place for a senior development, though he would be fine with less-massive regular housing there, mixed with retail.

"I'm not against development. But senior housing belongs in a different part of downtown that is quieter, with less traffic and fewer hazards for pedestrians," he said. "Seniors have mobility problems, and these intersections on A Street are too dangerous."


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The site would have a total of 49 parking spaces for both residents and customers. City guidelines allow 0.50 parking stalls per unit in senior housing projects, and one space per 315 square feet of retail space in the central parking district, according to Damon Golubics, Hayward senior planner.

"Are they saying senior citizens don't have cars?" asked Valerie Snart, who lives on nearby Warren Street. "If everyone just owned one car, where are they going to park? At Lucky's?"

Even one parking stall per residence is not enough, said Anna May, president of the Historic Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association. "The reality is that even for a senior housing project, two parking spaces are more reasonable," she said.

To allow drivers to turn into the apartment complex, an eastbound left-turn lane would be added at A and Watkins streets. The crosswalk at that intersection would be studied, and more time added if needed to let pedestrians cross A Street safely, according to the staff report.

A driveway would run through the site, with entrances on A and Smalley Avenue, a side street.

Both entrances should have security gates, May said. "I'd imagine my mother living there and would want her to feel safe," she said.

Smalley, which is just north of A, is too narrow to be used for an entrance to the apartment complex, said Scott Neely, who owns Downtown Muffler Service. Instead, he would like the Smalley entrance locked and only used for emergency access. Neely's shop is at the corner of Smalley and Mission.

If the Smalley entrance is locked, Neely said he would be in favor of the housing. It's a good fit for the now-vacant lot, which has sat empty for years, he said.

"Hayward needs new buildings, and I think it will help keep the riffraff out of the neighborhood," he said.

A traffic analysis estimated that the project proposed by Meta Housing of Los Angeles would add no more than 10 vehicles an hour on Smalley, with most drivers using A instead.

The apartments would be 561 to 900 square feet and mostly one-bedroom units, according to the staff report, which did not have an estimate of what rents would be. Tenants would be restricted to those age 55 and older.

If more parking is added, the site would be a great place for senior housing, Snart said, with a grocery store, restaurants, coffee shops, the main library, BART and City Hall within walking distance.

Those customers would be a boon to downtown, said Kim Huggett, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

"The site is currently an eyesore," he said, "And this is an opportunity to help meet the city's goal of rejuvenating downtown by adding more residents."

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.

Hayward Planning Commission
When: 7 p.m. July 11
Where: Hayward City Hall Council Chambers, 777 Watkins St.