SAN LEANDRO -- Increased housing demand, a sewer line and library advocates are all prompting changes to the San Leandro shoreline project, the city's Shoreline Advisory Group was told Wednesday night.
Cal Coast Development was tapped to turn 50 acres of the city's shoreline into a bustling tourist, recreation, office and housing area, but the plans have hit a few snags in recent months before reaching the state-mandated environmental review.
City officials said community members voiced objections to the plan to relocate the Mulford-Marina Branch Library to the west side of the Marina Golf Course to make way for new housing on Aurora Drive. Engineers also discovered a high-pressure sewer line along Monarch Bay Drive that prohibits construction 30 feet on either side, conflicting with the proposed new library site and some of the townhomes and live-work units planned for the northeast end of Monarch Bay Drive, according to Ed Miller, CEO of Cal Coast Development.
As a result, Miller said his team is pursuing a revised plan that leaves the library in its current location and relocates the 55-plus housing units that were to be built there to the southwest side of Monarch Bay Drive near the existing boat launch.
He said the townhomes and live-work units affected will have to be pushed back and reconfigured to accommodate the sewer line.
Plans for the construction of a 200-room hotel, a 15,000-square-foot conference center, pedestrian pier and bridge, promenade, perched beach, restaurants and other amenities remain on track, but developers have opted to build more housing and reduce planned office space from 250,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.
Miller said the change will allow for 159 additional one- and two-bedroom leased housing units near the offices on the northwest side of Monarch Bay Drive, bringing total housing in the project to 352 units across four sites.
"We want to have a variety of types of housing so that we can attract a variety of homebuyers at different price levels," Miller said, adding that most of the units will be for sale, not lease, and the target market will be young professionals and empty nesters, rather than families with children.
The added housing was welcome news to Shoreline Advisory Group member Tom Fitzsimons, an assistant vice president at Wells Fargo, who said the city especially needs housing on the west side.
"We need to have that supply or else we are going to have pressure on rents that lots of people in the community can't afford," Fitzsimons said.
But the additions still won't be enough, according to advisory group member René Mendieta, who advocated for five to seven stories of housing on the south side of the Monarch Bay Golf Club instead of the two to three stories planned.
"This is going to be a very unique location, destination point," said Mendieta, who works as a real estate agent.
Other advisory group members said it was important for restaurants to be built where the best views are to attract the best eateries and Audrey Velasquez, group member and general manager for the Marina Inn, asked whether improvements will be made to poor cell phone service in the area. Miller said a cell service booster, but not a tower, could be explored.
The trees that are home to Monarch butterflies on the southeast side of the golf course will not be touched and nearby construction will not take place during nesting season, Miller said. The butterflies will be studied further once studies for the mandated Environmental Impact Report begin.
Officials hope to have the final EIR report certified next August, permits obtained in 2015, and if all goes well, a groundbreaking as soon as May 2016.
The City Council will hear an update on the shoreline development at a work session Nov. 12, and the city's bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee will soon discuss where the bike trail will go in the area.
Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.