HAYWARD -- A blighted corner where a bowling alley has sat vacant for almost a decade on a busy intersection may be converted to housing and retail.

The City Council got its first look Tuesday at early plans to knock down Holiday Bowl at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Industrial Parkway and replace it with owner-occupied townhomes and some stores. Council members were receptive to the idea.

"That corner really needs some help," said Councilman Francisco Zermeño.

As conceived, the 5-acre site would include about 75 owner-occupied townhomes and 10,000 square feet of retail space, a developer representative said later. Parking would be behind the stores and restaurants, which would be near the streets at the Mission-Industrial corner. The two retail sections would be separated by a public plaza; the site also would have pathways and a central green area for residents.

Council members had several suggestions, such as taking advantage of the view of the Mission Hills golf course south of the parcel and increasing the amount of retail space.

"I want to put in a pitch for accessible one-level housing," said Councilwoman Sara Lamnin. The townhomes in the early proposal are three stories; she suggested adding one-story units above the retail space. Doug Rich of Valley Oak Partners said that was a possibility.

No one spoke against the development at Tuesday's meeting.

"I am so excited to see a project at that site," said Mimi Bauer, of the Fairway Park neighborhood, south of the site. "We have been waiting for so long."

She asked about bicycle racks and bus stops and also questioned some of the townhomes facing directly onto Mission and Industrial, which have eight lanes of traffic.

Councilman Greg Jones asked where the store entrances would be.

"My first choice would be on the street," Rich said.

"Good choice," said Jones, who suggested the city make street entrances a requirement for retail projects.

Tuesday's work session represented a change in the way Hayward processes larger projects. Before, proposals would go before the council only after city staff members signed off on them.

Now, the council will give feedback earlier, the assistant city manager said Wednesday.

"This is an opportunity early in the process before a developer spends a lot of money or we spend a lot of staff time so we know the overall intent is moving in right direction," said Kelly McAdoo.

In March, the council rejected a proposal to convert the long-closed Mervyn's headquarters on Foothill Boulevard into a mix of homes and retail. That developer, Integral Communities, spent years working with nearby residents and city staff members, revising the project several times, before the council turned it down on a 4-3 vote.

That experience and some other projects were part of the reason for the change, McAdoo acknowledged. But the Holiday Bowl site was one identified as a potential catalyst to spur nearby growth, she said; it is just over half a mile from the South Hayward BART station. The council had asked to be included early in any talks about developing those catalyst sites.

"I think it's exciting to have this dialogue up front," Rich said at Tuesday's meeting.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473. Follow her at Twitter.com/rpdarr1.